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Students must get political
OVER 50 students came to a very successful meeting organised by Save Free Education (SFE) and Socialist Students after the rally, even though most people were tired by what turned out to be a route march across London.
TIM LESELLS from Coventry Socialist Students outlined why students need to get involved in politics not just the fight against fees or for a student grant.
Students had played an important role in battles around the world. In Indonesia, students had taken part in a revolutionary movement in 1998 which removed Suharto. Along with workers, the unemployed etc, students should fight for a change in the political system.
ZENA AWAD from SFE said that figures proved the effect that fees had had on the number of students applying for university, Applications had gone down by 2% - especially amongst mature students. Many had to work for a year to save money for their education.
More students are going to local colleges so they can save money by staying at home, regardless of whether a more relevant course to their needs may be at other universities.
In Scotland, the Cubie report recommended abolishing up-front payments in favour of a graduate tax. although this only puts off people's debts, applications in Scotland have gone up.
CLARE JAMES from the Socialist Party said that this year's demo had been a lot bigger than last year's. Students aren't here just for a day out, she said. They want a real fight. Having a non-payment strategy is extremely important. You can shout until your face turns blue but without a strategy, you'll get nowhere.
The whole education system is being eroded by creeping privatisation. New Labour aim to sell off everything, eroding workers' conditions. Labour doesn't represent young people and students; it only represents big business.
Capitalism can't afford to give things free - no-one makes a profit. So the capitalists say privatise everything. The gap between rich and poor is growing.
Most of world is under the grip of global capitalism, which puts the rule of profit above everything. The system we live under doesn't offer a secure future.
Very significantly, anti-capitalist protests such as Seattle are organising against capitalism's environmental and social destruction. But if you're going to fight a system, you need an alternative. We're fighting for a system which benefits the majority of the world's population - socialism.
Clare appealed to people to join the Socialist Party which had the programme and experience to build for a socialist future.
In The Socialist 24 November 2000: