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Socialist students: Fighting for education
Extract from the editorial of Megaphone, the magazine of Socialist Students
Fees tripled, EMA scrapped, youth unemployment skyrocketing. This government will leave behind a brutal legacy.
We are governed by the rich, for the rich. The real interests they serve are those of bankers and big business - the '1%' or the capitalist class.
In an attempt to distract people from the true nature of its agenda, one of the government's favourite tactics is to attempt to turn people against each other. The young are 'feral', 'lazy' and have a sense of 'entitlement', so they should be first to face cuts, is one argument.
But the people with the real 'sense of entitlement' are the banks and big business. After their casino capitalism led us to disaster, not only did they expect a bailout for their bad debts, but to be able to keep the profits in private hands and enjoy huge bonuses, just as before!
But, in Britain, students were first to break the silence on cuts, organising mass protests, walkouts and strikes against fee hikes and EMA cuts.
This year the fight for our future will have to continue. The Con-Dems are coming for our education. Uni fees being tripled means the cost of a degree is now equivalent to a small mortgage. A three-year degree will set you back £50,000. Course fees for adults in further education (FE) are also being hiked. But while prices are increased, quality is set to be hit. Thousands of teaching and support jobs are threatened. This will leave students with overworked and undervalued lecturers, increasingly unable to deliver education at its best.
In higher education (HE) a plan for privatisation and marketisation is being formulated. David Willetts, universities minister, has stated openly that he wants HE institutions to stop thinking of themselves as part of the public sector.
Private companies are being brought in to run so-called 'back room' services. In reality this means education on the cheap. At London Metropolitan University, all services other than teaching and the vice-chancellor's office have just been outsourced to the private sector.
The approval of new private universities, such as the ultra-elitist 'New College of Humanities', represent another strand of the effort to create an American style system of education - a system where the highest paying 'customers' get the best education.
These attacks must be fought. This autumn two key dates for young people who want to fight back will be the trade union demonstration on 20 October and the National Union of Students (NUS) national demonstration on 21 November. We need to ensure that these demos are as big as possible with tens of thousands of students attending.
But they can only be the start of the fightback. The 2012 NUS conference voted to call a national student strike. We have to fight to make this a reality. To be most effective, this kind of action should coincide with strike action by workers, who, unlike students, have economic power. This should be the start of building a mass campaign organised around the following demands:
- Reverse the Con-Dem fee hike
- Tax the rich to fund free education
- Bring Back EMA
- Reject all cuts and closures - defend every job, course and uni
- No to education run on the cheap, kick out the profiteers - no privatisation
- Slash rents, provide affordable accommodation for all - uni management must inspect private landlords for quality
- We need a society for the 99%. All the banks and big businesses should be owned publicly and controlled democratically by ordinary people
- On the basis of capitalism, our future looks bleak. Changing the system is crucial.
If you want to help build the fightback, join Socialist Students today
Read more in Megaphone. Order your copy for £1 including postage and join Socialist Students, by contacting 07749 379010
In The Socialist 12 September 2012:
Fight against austerity
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party feature: TUSC
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
Fighting NHS cuts
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Reviews and comments