Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/687/12872
Fight fees and cuts - join Socialist Students!
Lincoln University Socialist Students gained hundreds of signatures on the 'No to £9k' petition during freshers week, with lots of people interested in joining the society.
Freshers told us that they would not come to university if they had to pay £9,000 a year. Many had cancelled planned gap year activities or turned down work to avoid the tripled fees.
Lincoln University was underprepared for the high intake of students, and ran out of existing accommodation. However, rather than find decent places for the 200 or so students without a place, they have rented poor quality "box" cabins.
These shack-like buildings have two people squeezed into each, with barely any room for personal belongings. Each cabin has a shower, but no cooking facilities, and it is likely that they are not built to withstand winter weather. Students have to pay £30 a week, yet if they find a decent place to live still have to pay rent for the "sheds" until the contract runs out in November.
Socialist Students is campaigning for good quality accommodation to be found for these students and the university to refund the "box" rents.
Socialist Students had a brilliant year last year, organising large demonstrations and leading an occupation. We are confident that this year we can build on this.
Socialist Students got an excellent response at Queen Mary, University of London. Many people were just coming up to the stall asking to join, saying they wanted to get involved in a socialist society and campaigns.
A record 114 people joined during the freshers fair, and three more on the first stall which had new members helping out. Even more asked to join the email list.
Our main campaign is to stop the cuts at Queen Mary, where management is trying to cut over 50 staff, including almost one in four library staff, while they are planning to triple fees for next year's intake. In contrast to last year, hardly anybody was prepared to support cuts, and our petition against cuts at QM and for free education went down a storm.
At both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University campuses, Socialist Students met a wide range of students keen to discuss the socialist alternative to the destruction of education being perpetrated by the Con-Dem coalition.
Freshers told us of their disbelief that new students could pay as much as £9,000 a year from next September. Many said that they were sure that it would prevent working class youth from attending university.
Throughout the week we sold 94 copies of the Socialist and 73 copies of the Megaphone magazine.
The first University of Sheffield meeting of the year was attended by 30 students, including 20 freshers. 27 students at Sheffield Hallam University also expressed interest in attending Socialist Students meetings.
Socialist Students are in the process of planning for the Sheffield leg of the Jarrow March for Jobs, on Wednesday 12 October. This is when the latest employment figures will be released, when youth unemployment could go over one million people.
"We've been out on the demos and seen your paper, we were anarchists but have started reading about socialism on the internet. We definitely want to join."
Jesse and Sinead were the last two students we signed up after a very successful couple of days campaigning.
Many students had been on last year's student protests. Some were mature students facing many difficulties due to the cuts. Others were interested in joining the Jarrow march.
20 copies of the Megaphone and the Socialist were sold.
"Have you read The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists? That's a really good book!"
This was one of the many comments received by people interested in socialist ideas at the Socialist Students stall at Kingston University freshers fair.
Sandwiched between leafleters for free cinema tickets and free pizza we had a lot of interest in our campaign against tuition fees and against cuts in education.
But students also wanted to discuss how we could effectively fight the cuts generally, with a lot of support being expressed for the public sector strike on 30 November.
Over 30 students filled in the forms to either join or find out more about Socialist Students with many of those also showing an interest in local Socialist Party meetings and activities
At Leeds University freshers fair, Socialist Students sold 21 papers and 30 copies of the Megaphone magazine and received around £10 in donations; ten people joined the society within the first week.
A joint Socialist Student and Socialist Party public meeting was held on Tuesday night with an introductory talk on socialism. This was followed by the first Socialist Students meeting of the academic year with a discussion on the recent uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. Both meetings were well attended, with lively and interesting contributions.
During Manchester freshers fairs many students showed their hatred of the Con-Dem coalition, but also doubted whether New Labour would be any different, leading many to question the three party system we live under.
Those who spoke to us were enthused by the plans for the Jarrow march, and by the policies that Socialist Students put forward, of free education for all and a socialist alternative.
The Megaphone magazine was very popular. Socialist Students societies are now registered in both Manchester and Salford universities.
Stoke campus of Staffordshire University held its activities fair on 24 September, where 20 students signed up to be members of Staffs Socialist Students.
We met a number of workers who were going to university after being unable to find a job.
Towards the end of the stall we also had a discussion on how we would carry out some of our demands, such as the nationalisation of the top industries. Many students agreed to come to our meeting on the socialist alternative to capitalism.
Socialist Students' demands include:
- Abolish tuition fees! Write off student debt!
- Restore EMA! Full grants to cover the living costs of all students in post-16 education
- No to education cuts. Defend every course, job and service
- Stop the marketisation and privatisation of universities
- Lift the cap on places and publicly fund the expansion of high quality higher education
- Build local anti-cuts campaigns and Youth Fight for Education groups in every school, college and university
- Support action by education workers to defend their conditions and our education
- Transform students unions into fighting organisations
- For a fighting National Union of Students
- For education that is fully funded, publicly owned, democratically run and universally free at all levels - a socialist education system
Find out more and read Megaphone at www.socialiststudents.org.uk
In The Socialist 28 September 2011:
Building for 30 November strike
Jarrow march for jobs
The Socialist's editorials
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party review