Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/964/26199

From The Socialist newspaper, 27 September 2017

Scrap tuition fees

Fight for free education

Build for budget day walkouts

Socialist Students marching for free education, 2016, photo Isai Priya

Socialist Students marching for free education, 2016, photo Isai Priya   (Click to enlarge)

Clare Laker-Mansfield, Socialist Students national organiser

Tuition fees can be beaten. Chancellor Phillip Hammond's announcement that he will consider lowering them in the next Tory budget is an indication of his government's enormous weakness. This vulnerability is clear both in a general sense and on the specific issue of fees.

The move by the DUP to back a Labour motion aimed at blocking the increases planned under the Higher Education Act indicated the huge fissures that could open up on the issue. It highlighted the potential for a mass movement to break this government.

The 8 June general election represented a revolt of working class people, but particularly youth and students. If on autumn budget day (22 November) Hammond does what he has suggested and moves to reduce university fees, it will be as a concession to that electoral revolt. But it will not be enough.

Under the current system, students beginning university this year face half a lifetime of debt. With interest rates on student loans now set at a staggering 6%, and with huge fees being combined with the abolition of what remained of maintenance grants, the amounts owed by today's students are at record levels.

'Debt time-bomb'

No wonder some commentators are talking about a 'debt time-bomb'. Estimates indicate that a young person beginning their studies in 2017 will have to earn over 50,000 a year before they begin paying back the capital on their loan.

In austerity Britain, with its gig economy and low wages, this means most graduates will never come anywhere close to paying off their debts. In fact most will find that, despite handing hundreds of pounds over to the loans company, the amount they owe will continue to grow year-on-year.

This underlines the importance of us demanding the complete abolition of fees and the reintroduction of grants for students. The promise to reintroduce free education was among the most popular in Corbyn's manifesto. But this should also be combined with a pledge to write off student debt. Such a possibility was hinted at by Corbyn in an interview he gave in the lead up to the election, though he subsequently appears to have stepped back from it.

Rather than accepting the faulty logic of the capitalist establishment which deems this 'unaffordable', Corbyn should boldly demand that the money to fund it is taken from the pockets of the super-rich. After all, why should recent and existing students continue to pay for the pro-1% policies of the Tories or the Blairites?

The task of students beginning their studies this week is to organise. Free education has been placed firmly back on the agenda. We need to use the momentum generated during the election campaign to help make this an autumn of resistance. That means getting organised on every campus. But it also means coordinating the fight on a national level.

That's why Socialist Students is demanding that the National Union of Students (NUS) uses its resources to build and mobilise a massive national demonstration this autumn. In 2010, when tuition fees were tripled to 9,000, an NUS-called demo saw over 50,000 students on the streets - sparking a mass movement of school, college and university students.

Movement

Disgracefully, NUS's right-wing leadership subsequently abandoned the struggle - condemning students who occupied Tory HQ and refusing to organise or even support further action. It was this, combined with the failure of the leadership of the trade union movement to move into struggle against the vicious Con-Dem coalition government at that point, which ultimately led to the defeat of the movement.

Today's NUS leadership is cut from the same Blairite cloth as those who abandoned the fight against fees in 2010.

Unless there is a radical change of course, including, as a first step, the organisation of a huge protest in the next months, they will occupy a similarly cowardly position.

Nonetheless, with or without the leadership of NUS, it's clear that the raw ingredients for a mass struggle on a similarly large scale to 2010, are present in the situation. This is true not just because of the anger that exists at sky-high fees, but because of the increased confidence that an alternative to austerity can be won.

As well as building the pressure on the NUS leadership to act,Socialist Students is calling for a huge day of action - or 'education shutdown' - on budget day. We will be organising for protests on every campus or college where we are present, and encouraging all those who want to join the fightback to take up the call and mobilise students to protest on this day.

Not only stunts and protests, but occupations and walkouts, could potentially be posed. If it were widely taken up, this could act as a spring board to building a mass campaign to win free education and kick out the Tories.


Since Socialist Students called for action on budget day, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) subsequently announced their intention to organise a protest on 15 November.

The Socialist Students committee wrote to the NCAFC leadership with the aim of opening up a dialogue about the way forward for our movement and how different organisations can work together to maximise the potential for mass resistance to the government. We have yet to receive a reply. An extract from the letter, the full version of which can be found at socialiststudents.org.uk, is carried below:

Dear comrades,

We write today in the hope of opening up a discussion on how best to build and take forward the student movement this autumn and beyond. The general election on 8 June raised the sights and expectations of hundreds of thousands of university and college students that the demand for free education is winnable.

Alongside this fresh politicisation of a huge new layer of students and young people, the Tory government, before the election confident that it could strengthen itself in parliament ahead of fresh attacks on the education system and wider society, has instead been severely weakened.

Reflecting this drastically altered political situation, Socialist Students has consistently stated the need for national demonstrations, and that they be coordinated by a fighting and democratic NUS leadership. Without NUS, a national demonstration on 15 November - if it goes ahead - will need to be organised democratically by all capable forces within the student movement.

This should include Socialist Students, which has grown to be a national organisation present on 40 campuses up and down the country. Our organisers have collective experience in leading various student protests and days of action, and we have roots among students on numerous university campuses.

Socialist Students would play a hugely positive role in building and mobilising for a national demonstration in the autumn time alongside NCAFC and other student organisations. Organising a successful national demonstration, especially in the absence of the leadership of the NUS, will take the involvement of Socialist Students and other organisations which have a national presence on university campuses.

The setting up of democratic planning committees, with participants from NCAFC, Socialist Students, and other groups willing to participate, should be central to achieving this aim. By establishing structures which allow for the participation of different groups in democratic discussion around the different aspects of building for such an action (including the tasks of mobilisation, political demands, speakers lists etc) we can have a greater impact as a united movement.

Socialist Students agrees with NCAFC that it is necessary to build further action beyond simply one isolated national demonstration. Socialist Students, under the banner of an 'education shutdown', has called and already started preparations for action on university campuses on budget day. This could potentially be received very enthusiastically and pull new layers of students into struggle, especially if built cooperatively and democratically alongside other groups.

We look forward to hearing your response to the points we raise here and furthermore suggest an urgent meeting ahead of the start of the new term. We hope this will be helpful to building alongside you and other groups for elevated student struggles in the future.

In solidarity,

Socialist Students steering committee

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 27 September 2017:


What we think

Anti-austerity opposition needed to seize on Tories' weakness


Socialist Party youth and students

Fight for free education

Freshers week campaigning reports


Sport

Women's football - Sampson allegations


Socialist Party news and analysis

Gig economy exploiter Uber loses London licence

Travel chaos for Ryanair customers as airline cancels thousands of flights

One in four teenage girls depressed - crisis made worse by cuts


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Bristol: demand for no-cuts budget grows

Salford: Labour mayor needs to stop all cuts

Ledbury tenants fight for decent homes

Hundreds march against Labour council's development plan

Stop the cuts - save our vital services

Lessons of October new edition out now!


Socialist Party workplace news

Escalate summer strike wave into coordinated action to defeat the pay cap

Birmingham bin strike: council humiliated in court battle - but war isn't over yet

Food processing workers vote for action against miserly bosses

Usdaw elections announced - fight for a left leadership, vote for Amy Murphy

Surrey County Council staff on collision course over pay freeze

CWU strike ballot to win 'Four Pillars'


International socialist news and analysis

Strike against Madrid's 'state of emergency'!

German elections: rise of the far right and right-wing government will provoke resistance

French Labour reform protests


 

Home   |   The Socialist 27 September 2017   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Tuition Fees:

triangleMobilise against rip-off executive pay

triangleSocialist Students day of action demands free education

triangleMarch for free education! We demand a future!

triangleWalk out against tuition fees on Budget Day!

triangleJoin the budget day protests!

Education:

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Fighting for free education

triangleNewham academy strikes spread to Cumberland school

triangleTeacher recruitment falls by a third - cut workload, not funding

triangleBigot Toby Young quits - now scrap the new uni regulator driving privatisation

Fees:

triangleUni market 'failure', two-year degrees - end cuts, scrap fees!

triangleSocialist Students actions against uni fees on Budget Day

triangleWhat we saw

Budget:

triangleLobby pushes Liverpool council to oppose privatisation

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Why we're lobbying the council for a no-cuts budget

Students:

triangleVictory! Trump's UK visit cancelled by fear of protests

Socialist:

triangleTeesside Socialist Party: 'Fake' Trump! What's really going on in the US?

Socialist Students:

triangleLiverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students

NUS:

triangleLively student demonstration for free education could have been much bigger

Student:

triangleHousing victory for Sussex students

University:

triangleUCU members balloting for action on pension cuts

Demonstration:

triangleDemonstration: NHS in crisis - fix it now!

Debt:

triangleTunisia: explosion of protests against government austerity

College:

triangleLeeds college pay protests

Youth:

triangleMovement challenges Iranian regime

Higher Education:

triangleBrighton Uni lecturers strike against job cuts

Young people:

triangleSweden: School strike against deportations

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

17/1/18

Women

Socialist Party women's meeting brings together members to share experiences

17/1/18

Newham

Packed Newham meeting against academies

17/1/18

Liverpool

Lobby pushes Liverpool council to oppose privatisation

17/1/18

Barking

Heating scandal on east London estate

17/1/18

Policing

Undercover policing legal challenge

17/1/18

Woolwich

No to the Woolwich monster block

17/1/18

Union

Workplace news in brief

17/1/18

Union

PCS union 2018 elections - nominate the left slate for a continued fighting leadership

17/1/18

Hackney

Hackney school cleaners strike

17/1/18

RMT

RMT strikes against driver-only operation continue

17/1/18

Yorkshire

Ferrybridge: Workers down tools over unpaid wages

17/1/18

Cuts

We must fight all council cuts!

17/1/18

Socialist Party

Southern Socialist Party conference

16/1/18

Birmingham

Home care workers to strike

12/1/18

Waltham Forest

Outrage against 'monster block' plan

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle17 Jan Corbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

triangle17 Jan NHS crisis: under pressure from all angles - end cuts and sell-offs!

triangle17 Jan We must fight all council cuts!

triangle16 Jan Home care workers to strike

triangle15 Jan Carillion crisis: Demand action to save jobs and services

triangle12 Jan Outrage against 'monster block' plan

triangle12 Jan Mini-strike wave continues and intensifies

More ...

triangle23 Jan Bristol North Socialist Party: 'You can't have capitalism without racism' - was Malcolm X correct?

triangle23 Jan Cardiff West Socialist Party: How the Poll Tax was beaten

triangle24 Jan Caerphilly Socialist Party: The Carillion scandal

triangle24 Jan Cardiff Central Socialist Party: Carillion collapse - Watershed moment for public services

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2