Thousands of young people across the country are hoping to expand their horizons by starting courses at colleges and universities this term. But the economic recession and the onslaught from the New Labour government and big business on the right to a decent education means many will struggle.
Students face the prospect of mountains of debt, increasing university fees, rising costs of the basic essentials for living, and their courses and services attacked by cuts, closures and privatisation.
This year's college students are already suffering. Over 150,000 students have been left with no Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) because the private company to whom the government gave £80 million to sort out applications has had 'technical difficulties'. Their excuses aren't good enough! Many students who are struggling financially will have to drop out without this money.
This year's push.co.uk (university guide website) survey points out that debts could increase by £4,000 a year for those starting university in September. This year the government reviews the present cap of £3,000 a year on university fees. University vice chancellors are urging for the cap to be lifted. Universities like Manchester and Southampton are already budgeting for an increase to £6,000 a year!
Many students will be angry that the government and big business are wrecking education and the politicians offer no way out of the coming economic crisis. They will be asking questions about the way society is run; Why is the gap between rich and poor ever widening? Why is very little done by those in power about climate change? What causes horrific brutal wars like the recent conflict in the Caucasus? And what can we do to fight back against fees, war, racism and environmental destruction?
Socialist Students leads the way in active campaigning among students and raising socialist ideas on campus. As well as campaigning for improvements in students' and others' conditions, we point out that it is the capitalist system that creates war, privatisation, and poverty. We fight for a socialist society, based on the democratic running of society to meet the needs of the whole of the world's population.
Socialist Students activists are preparing for the new term and will be building societies and groups at the freshers fairs in universities and colleges across the country. As well as stalls at freshers fairs and on campuses, we will leaflet halls of residences, bars and poster around student areas.
Across England and Wales, Socialist Students groups are planning a series of political meetings on topics such as 'What is Socialism?' 'Crash - crisis in the world economy', 'The life of Che Guevara' and 'Combating racism and the BNP'.
Socialist Students will also continue to build the Campaign to Defeat Fees (CDF) and fight for a mass campaign against attacks on education. There have been three CDF national days of action and over 5,000 students have signed its petition for mass action. Socialist Students are planning a Campaign to Defeat Fees national day of action on 16 October which will see actions and protests across the country.
We are campaigning for local student unions to organise local anti-fees demonstrations on the NUS 'Students in the Red' day of action on 5 November. We call on the NUS leadership to organise a national demonstration against the government's attacks on education this year.