Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/428/5019
ISR/Socialist Students conference:
Fight for your future!
THIS IS going to be an essential conference for every young person in England and Wales who is thinking about how to change the world, who is fed up with the daily grind of low-paid work and of the student experience of debt and poverty and fees.
Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, ISR national coordinator
Only one week to go until the International Socialist Resistance (ISR) and Socialist Students annual national conference and the resolutions are still coming in.
From what we have received so far it looks like it's going to be a very political and wide-ranging conference.
To give readers a taste of what they can expect please just have a look at our packed agenda!
We will start the day with our opening Fight for your future! rally with guest speakers from the Bolivia Solidarity campaign, the national convenor of the PCS youth network (personal capacity) and the Jean Charles de Menenzes campaign, as well as speakers from ISR and Socialist Students.
After lunch we will break down into groups to discuss some of the main issues we face and some of the most important questions for socialists.
- Latin America - a continent in revolt. What are the lessons for the struggle in Britain?
- The fight for our rights at work.
- What is socialism?
- Sexism - what it is and how to fight it.
- What is the solution to the problems of Iraq and what is the way forward for the anti-war movement?
- Why it's a crime to be young in Blair's Britain and what can we do about it?
- The struggle for free education in universities and colleges.
- No to racism!
- Why do socialists talk about the working class?
ISR and Socialist Students are democratic organisations and as such we will take votes on all the resolutions that have been submitted and on electing new co-ordinating committees.
So far we have received dozens and they will all be available to read on our websites asap - www.socialiststudents.org.uk
They cover a wide range of issues from the environment and climate change to ASBOs, there is a resolution on football and one on how we can work with the trade unions. All of these and many more will be discussed and debated.
To finish our conference we will have a Do you want to change the world? closing rally with an eye-witness report from the World Socialist Forum and the revolution in Venezuela, and an anti-fascist student activist from Belgium.
If you or anyone you know has something to say on any of these issues come along and get your voice heard.
Top-up fees hit university applications
THIS YEAR, applications to university fell for the first time in six years. The cause is almost certainly the introduction of £3,000 per year 'top-up' fees; these worry many A-level students already concerned by student debt.
Thomas House, UCL Socialist Students
The introduction of the £1,000 fee during the first New Labour government had a similar effect, as will further planned increases. If we don't fight back, universities will once again become playgrounds for the rich, with mere crumbs for talented working-class students through scholarships and bursaries.
Increasing fees also affect the courses that students are likely to study - longer courses that don't much increase employability may be discontinued. Whole areas of learning may be lost as 'unprofitable' departments close.
This new fees income is not going to university staff, who just balloted successfully for strike action over pay, or into better education for most students, who see only cuts, closures and privatisation on their campuses. To defeat fees, students' and workers' struggles must be linked into a united, national campaign against the marketisation of higher education.
The National Union of Students' (NUS) current strategy is to make links with teaching and lecturing unions - a welcome step. This coalition's demand, however, is to keep fees at £3,000 - this is a mistake when there is the money in society to pay for free education with a living grant.
What's more, their main activity is lobbying MPs, but none of the Westminster parties is a reliable defender of education: only a new mass workers' party will fight to end cuts and privatisation.
Swansea students have taken mass action to defend courses, services and accom-modation. Anger exploded when management plans to close the Natural Science Library were leaked.
Matthew Dobson, Swansea Socialist Students
When the students union called a demonstration on 20 February, 300 students marched through campus. Outside Abbey administration building, they poured into the building, sitting in the hallways and staircases and chanting.
University management refused any dialogue and the police threatened to "peacefully remove" students from the Abbey. Eventually university management agreed to meet student representatives on 22 February when the students union will organise another demonstration.
Socialist Students explained we should focus anger not just on university management but on the government's plans for education as a whole.
ON 16 February University of Sussex students demonstrated against the lack of lectures and seminars, books and food provision. Many students receive as few as four hours teaching a week despite paying fees of up to £1,500.
Many of these 'hours' take place in overcrowded classrooms. Some seminars which had 20 people in them now have around 60. In others a weekly seminar AND lecture has been replaced by a weekly seminar OR a lecture.
Students were told 'to organise their own seminars' when they complained about the lack of teaching, yet the university still greedily snatches these students' fees as if it plays an active role in their education.
In The Socialist 22 February 2006: