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ABOUT 400 students marched through Oxford in protest against tuition fees and the abolition of the grant. Oxford students called the demo in response to harsh measures employed by Oxford University against tuition fee non-payers.
Last month, 30 students were threatened with effective exclusion for non-payment. Now only one non-payer remains, the others having paid. But Oxford students are determined that they will do all they can to stop him being 'sent down'.
Students from the many Oxford University colleges turned out while Save Free Education (SFE) activists brought students from Coventry, Southampton, the South West, London and Newcastle.
Paul Hunt, SFE member and Coventry University non-payer, said the demonstration was "really good. It was especially good to see students from all over the country showing their solidarity with the Oxford students.
"The demonstration will have given other students who have not paid their fees the confidence to make a stand. At Coventry University the finance office has said that there are hundreds of other students in my position who haven't paid their fees because they cannot afford them. Now letters have gone out telling them that they have to pay up."
SFE has called a national day of action to help spread the action that has taken place in Oxford and some London colleges recently. They are demanding that college managements across the country do not exclude or suspend any students for non-payment of tuition fees.
We must let students know that they do not have to pay up or drop out. If mass action, such as demonstrations and occupations, is organised to defend non-payers then the universities can be forced to allow students to stay on their courses.
Mass refusal to pay will make tuition fees unworkable.
National day of action: Wednesday 23 February. Scrap tuition fees; Introduce a grant students can live on; No exclusions or suspensions; For an amnesty on all unpaid fees.
In The Socialist 18 February 2000: