Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/594/8156
Universities in crisis
Join socialist students
Fight for a decent education
According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary universities are "formed for the purpose of giving and receiving instruction in a fixed range of subjects at a level beyond that provided at a school". Most people don't need reminding of this.
However, it seems that university vice chancellors and their fat cat friends in the bosses' organisation, the CBI, do. During the current debate about university funding one retired vice chancellor is reported to have described UK students as "nothing but a drain". All three main political parties stand for making students pay high fees, making it harder for most young people to learn.
This year students face a disastrous situation. Government policies of privatisation and cuts, and mismanagement have caused a student finance crisis, a lack of places on courses, an accommodation crisis and a crisis in the whole of higher education funding. Around a quarter of students don't know if they'll get the loans they need and vice chancellors plan to cut thousands of jobs across the sector.
The same ex-vice chancellor sees students as "the charity end of the business". As well as raising fees, the CBI wants to see UK 'charity case' students, charged commercial rates on student loans, 'saving' up to £1.4 billion per year.
Meanwhile the profiteers and 'banksters' enjoy the 'charity' of tax loopholes, which according to the TUC, save the wealthiest in society an estimated £25 billion in tax avoidance. They laugh all the way to the bank while public services suffer.
Question the system
But students will not accept this situation. Having worked hard to achieve the grades for university, anger and frustration are increasingly making students question the way the education system, and even the country, is run. They are looking for the best organisations to join.
Socialist Students, with its record of fighting fees with the Campaign to Defeat Fees, of opposition to war, racism and sexism, and of democratic organisation is a very attractive option.
Under capitalism the lives of millions the world over are blighted by starvation, war, poverty and environmental destruction. Socialist Students clearly stands for a socialist alternative where the enormous wealth, resources and human talent that exists in the world would not be squandered, but planned to improve the lives of all.
At freshers fairs around the UK Socialist Students members are asking the question: "Are you socialist?" and are getting a very enthusiastic response.
At Leeds University 50 people signed up to join Socialist Students on the first day. One student explained his reason for joining: "The logic of capitalism is if you want the rich to work harder then you pay them more and if you want the poor to work harder then you pay them less". Another was really pleased that Socialist Students was the first stall he saw.
Students at Dundee were keen to get active. A fourth year pharmacology student said: "I've been complacent for too long now. If I don't take a stance and fight for a better society now, no one will and nothing will change. Young people need to get active to fight for our future."
In The Socialist 22 September 2009:
War and occupation
Postal workers strike
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reviews