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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 January 2001

Students worse off under Labour

STUDENTS TODAY are well-off. At least that is what Malcolm Wicks, New Labour MP for Croydon North, says.

Kieran Roberts, Save Free Education and Socialist Students

According to Wicks, students must be well-off because they apparently spend so much time living it up in the student union bar, frittering away cash on drinks or else spending it on other luxury goods.

This is no doubt handy for Wicks, education minister responsible for lifelong learning in the New Labour government, who will be keen to justify extending tuition fees, in the form of top-up fees after the general election.

However, his crude stereotypes of student life will convince few people of the justification for paying for higher education. Nor has the prospect of the 'good life' at university convinced students.

The number of students dropping out of university has so alarmed some MPs that the Commons Education Committee is conducting an inquiry. Nearly 40% of students at some universities - about one in six overall - now drop out of university. Student debt has tripled in the past four years according to a government-funded survey.

In reality life for students today is harder than since higher education was expanded after the second world war. That's why 25,000 students marched through central London last autumn.

Tens of thousands of students are forced to work in poorly paid, casual work, in order to survive. These students often work during anti-social hours, and are left with little time to study. Most students also leave university up to their necks in debt.

If, in a few years time, most students really are rich, this will only be because the policies of New Labour put a stop to working-class students going to university because of the cost.

Malcolm Wicks didn't face these problems when he was a student. In fact he enjoyed the experience so much he did an MA at the LSE, one of the universities first in line for introducing top-up fees.

Maybe Wicks would like to pay back the several thousand pounds that he never paid for his university education. After all, university no doubt provided an important stepping stone in his political career.

Wicks's comments will infuriate many students, many of whom will want to take action against New Labour and the abolition of free education. The Socialist Party and Save Free Education are building a campaign of mass non-payment and mass action to make the fees unworkable.

Join us if you want to stop the introduction of top-up fees, bring back the grant and defeat tuition fees

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

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In The Socialist 12 January 2001:

Exposed: Labour's Election Hype

Students worse off under Labour

Now the Party's Over

Hackney: stand up to these attacks

Hackney debate: How to take the dispute forward

Fight for all Vauxhall jobs

Import controls no solution

He who pays the piper...

Thousands rally in support of Czech TV workers


 

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Related links:

Students:

triangleScrap fees, refund rents and pay a living grant

trianglePlymouth rent strike continues

triangleSocialist Students national meeting: Refund the rent, cancel the fees and fight for free education

triangleExams scrapped again - young people need a future with jobs and free education

triangleRefund student rent and fees - fight for free education and make the 1% pay

Labour:

triangleMay elections: Tories and Labour's Khan both vying to slash public services

triangleMillionaire tendency regains control of Scottish Labour

triangleTUSC to hold local elections conference in February

triangleTUSC 2021 local elections conference

Education:

triangleRefund student rent and fees

triangleEast London Socialist Party: The fight for safe schools

triangleUniversity teaching moves online in England

University:

triangleRefund the rent, cancel the fees, for fully funded, publicly owned education

triangle'Cut the Rent!' campaign kicks off

Fees:

triangleSolidarity with Manchester students - fight for democratic control of campus safety

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