Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/241/24908
No fees! For a living grant!
ON 20 February, students will show their anger about tuition fees in a massive demonstration in London. Since the government was forced to accept that the fees system is unworkable, anger has continued to grow.
Christian Bunke, Manchester
Over 30,000 students, graduates and parents have already signed an online petition against fees (www.payuptony.com)
Tuition fees are driving students into poverty, student debt is rising by £1.6 billion a year. Working- class students are discouraged from going to university, simply because they cannot afford it. And those who still go to university are forced into ridiculously underpaid dead-end jobs.
Students are simply stopping paying their fees and £ millions go unpaid every year. So the government is reviewing its fees policy but Tony and Co seem absolutely clueless about what to do next.
One suggestion is the introduction of a graduate tax, meaning that instead of paying fees before starting a course, students will have to pay after finishing their degree. But debt will be debt, whether caused by fees or by a tax.
Students have to fight for a fully funded education system. But the National Union of Students (NUS), with the resources to lead such a struggle, does little.
Last year, for example, the then general secretary of the Manchester University students' union refused to support an occupation of the main administration building during an NUS day of action against fees, because he feared losing his "great relationship with university management."
We cannot rely on such leaders, who are only interested in their personal careers and not in fighting for students' rights and living standards.
In Manchester, Save Free Education (SFE) and Socialist Students picketed several university buildings in order to make the day of action happen.
An international day of action against privatisation and cuts in education has been called for 15 March. We will build to make this day a big success, demanding:
A fully government-financed education system and a decent living grant. We need to organise protests, demonstrations, occupations and mass non-payment of fees in order to achieve this.
For a democratic NUS, with a fighting leadership accountable to NUS members, so that an effective mass campaign against fees can be organised.
In The Socialist 15 February 2002: