A walkout aimed to highlight the issue of tuition fees held last Wednesday at the University of Edinburgh failed to attract support from both students and organisers, sparking a strong reaction from EUSA president Matt McPherson.
Speaking during the walkout Mr McPherson told The Journal: “I am disappointed, I think that it’s something that students should be disappointed about themselves as well.
“We had a lot of people who had been involved in the organisation of this who didn’t even turn up today, why they didn’t that’s fine that’s their choice. It’s an example of why I think there’s a lack of interest in national campaigns at this time”.
The EUSA president went on to criticise the proposals from the NUS to hold national demonstrations, saying: “I think if it’s not a priority for our union why would it be a priority for Leeds Met who in order to send students to a demo would have to sacrifice events during Freshers' week because they have to make those tough decisions.”
Mr McPherson added that he believed there could have been more help from NUS Scotland, and called for “clearer leadership” by the NUS to support unions which have to balance both student activism and social events.
Three speakers had been arranged to attend the event but failed to arrive at the demonstration.
Mr McPherson blamed a lack of communication and being over-reliant on social media for the low turnout, but also cited staffing issues as emails with information about the walkout were not sent out to the student body in time for the protest.
Students who were unable to make the protest explained that there had been a lack of knowledge of the event amongst the student body in tandem with coursework and dissertation deadlines.
Mr McPherson criticised some members of the student council who were actively involved in proposing and organising the walkout and upcoming demonstrations but failed to take part in the action, saying: “Our student council passed a motion mandating our NUS delegates to vote in favour of a national demonstration in London in the autumn term but the people who proposed that motion haven’t even turned up today.
"Process and outcome were both unclear and people have to take responsibility for that."
Mr McPherson went on to offer a solution to improve turnout at protests by claiming that "we can localise these national campaigns if we localise the message".
Despite his obvious disappointment Mr McPherson sought to outline the positives that emerged from the 'Week of Action', which the planned walk-out was a part of. He specifically pointed to the success of 500 signatures in favour of the campaign for a free bus for veterinary students to the Easter Bush campus being recognised by the university principal, and the effort made by some students to hand out “hundreds of stickers” with a price tag to outline the concept of how much money students are paying in tuition fees.
Mr McPherson also told The Journal about the campaign at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) on 14 March which aimed to raise awareness about tuition fee costs by writing receipts for the amount of tuition fees being paid by students.