The Socialist 26 January 2011 |
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Where next for the student movement?
The student movement has had a massive impact. Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) has been saved in Scotland and Wales and fee rises are not planned in those areas either.
Ben Robinson, Chair, Youth Fight for Jobs
Crucially, hundreds of thousands of students have fought the government, learned to struggle and inspired workers and other activists to take part in the fight against cuts.
Unfortunately the government has ignored the clear opposition from the majority of the population and voted to increase university fees and scrap EMA. But this does not mean that the struggle is over.
Current recipients will still get EMA until the end of the academic year and the fee rise will not come in until September 2012. There is still time to force the government to repeal these attacks.
In every university, college and school around the country, the government's attacks will be translated into teachers' jobs being cut, library services axed, courses closed down. It is vital that anti-cuts campaigns are launched everywhere, and that a very clear message is given to management - that we will not put up with these attacks.
It's clear from the victories of the movement that protesting works. In every area where they're talking about cutting our services, there are tens, hundreds, thousands who know how to fight back and are willing to take action.
Youth Fight for Education (YFE) has recently produced a guide to action (see www.youthfightforeducation.com), to help discuss how to organise.
We can force them back locally. In almost every area, one of the major excuses that management give is that their money from central government is reduced, and that they have no choice but to cut. We should reject this argument completely.
We demand that they refuse to implement the cuts and demand enough money from central government to fully fund our education. If every school, college and university took this route the government would be forced to think again. YFE has produced a set of model demands (see website), based on those passed by the Leeds Trinity occupation, which can be used in other areas.
But there also needs to be further coordinated national action and linking up with the workers' movement. We support the National Union of Teachers and lecturers' union, UCU, linking up strike action, as is being discussed in those unions. If this goes ahead, YFE will call for national walkouts of all those in education, taking part in picket lines and demonstrations together with staff.
We will also be mobilising young trade union members, workers, unemployed young people and education activists to march together on the TUC demonstration on 26 March.
The TUC must make demands around EMA and university fees a central part of this demonstration, as well as opposition to all cuts and privatisation. Youth Fight for Jobs and Education will be contacting all student organisations and youth trade union sections to make sure this happens.