Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/457/5487
No fees, end student poverty
Fight for a socialist alternative to Blair's Britain
BLAIR'S 'LEGACY' and Brown's promises for more of the same were applauded at Labour Party conference. But new students across the country are now facing the bleak reality of trying to live and study in New Labour's Britain.
Matt Dobson Socialist Students national co-ordinator
They will be uncertain about whether they can afford to pay for their tuition, as top up fees are £3,000 a year.
Then they have to bear living costs - they will probably have to get a low-paid part-time job - and at the end of it all, huge debts from the student loan company, banks and credit card companies.
Many young people have been put off continuing education after school and college entirely. University applications are down by 3.4%. They now have the prospect of working in Gordon Brown's low-wage exploitative economy.
For 16 and 17 year-olds the minimum wage has just gone up to a measly £3.30 per hour. Compare this to Britain's boardroom bosses who took home £753 million in 2005. Their salaries have soared by 28%. Students working in supermarkets this year may be interested to find out that Tesco's chief executive gets a salary equal to 466 Tesco workers.
While the bosses are wallowing in profit, students are working an average of 16 hours a week, while studying full-time. Yet graduate debts average £20,000.
New Labour is opening up education to the market to let the fat cats make huge profits while denying the right to free, fully funded, quality education for young people. At Brunel University, students do not have enough books in the library but multinationals have brand new conference suites on campus.
Further Education colleges are being eyed up by private companies, eager to make profits out of charging rip-off prices in canteens and for other services.
Education isn't the only public service under attack. Due to ward closures and staff shedding in the NHS, 6,000 young medics and over half of newly qualified nurses cannot find secure jobs.
While public services are underfunded, billions are spent on Blair's war aims of securing oil revenues for the multinationals and stability for imperialism. But these aims have been shattered by the rise in sectarian violence in Iraq and the instability of the occupying forces in Afghanistan.
Young people everywhere want to fight back against New Labour's policies. Socialist Students is meeting students who want to campaign against New Labour's warmongering, fees and student debt, privatisation and attacks on public services.
At Manchester University 100 students marched against fees in the first week of term. Socialist Students will be organising days of action involving protests, meetings, demonstrations and rallies to build for the National NUS Demonstration on 29 October.
In The Socialist 5 October 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party campaigns