Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/181/7974
Can't Pay Won't Pay
OVER 20,000 students are expected on the National Union of Students (NUS) "Grants not Fees" demonstration in Central London. This march will protest at tuition fees of up to £1,050 per year and no student maintenance grant, leaving student loans as the only option.
Paul Hunt, Coventry (SFE) Save Free Education.
Most students will leave university owing between £12,000 and £25,000. Due to these funding arrangements, many students from working - class backgrounds are denied the opportunity of going to University.
Those that get to University often have to work up to 40 hours per week in low - paid jobs meaning their grades suffer dramatically.
Now the elite universities, notably the Russell Group of universities, are talking of bringing in their own 'top-up' fees, which could amount to a staggering £20,000 per year for some courses. This will result in a two-tier education system because only the very richest students will be able to go to the top universities.
The Socialist Party and Save Free Education (SFE) believe that the only strategy to beat tuition fees and restore the grant is a campaign of mass non - payment. This campaign would make fees uncollectable and force the government to change its policy. Thatcher's poll tax was defeated because 18 million people refused to pay and backed this up with mass action to defend those who couldn't or wouldn't pay. We should unite under the banner of 'Can't Pay- Won't Pay', with all students who can't afford to pay uniting with those who disagree with fees on principle.
The need for a successful non-payment campaign is urgent. Already this term thousands of students will drop out due to lack of money caused by fees and loss of the grant. The NUS needs to actively build non-payment, this demonstration will show the power NUS has to mobilise students, the same can be done with non-payment.
Every student on this demonstration needs to go back to their college or university and refuse to pay their fees and join or set up an SFE group.This then can build non-payment and organise action to defend non-payers with the aim of winning back the right to free education.
In The Socialist 10 November 2000: