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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 June 2010

Socialist Students national meeting: Preparing for a student fightback

Socialist Student activists came from universities and colleges around the country on 6 June to discuss plans for next year.

Ian Pattison, Newcastle Socialist Students

It was a particularly important meeting because of the unprecedented scale of cuts facing education and the prospect of a big rise in student fees.

It was noted that Socialist Students members have been involved in a wide range of activity this year. For example, we have been campaigning on international issues and combating the far right including the English Defence League.

However, the main task of Socialist Students in the coming period will be fighting education cuts. Claire Laker-Mansfield said "New Labour's parting gift to students was a 400 million cut in the education budget." It was stressed that struggles against course closures, rising fees and job losses will escalate as these cuts are implemented.

Organised and democratic mass action will be needed to stop the cuts. We agreed to help build broad anti-cuts campaigns across the country to organise this.

As well as building for demonstrations and occupations, Socialist Students will raise the idea of student strikes to escalate the struggles against education cuts. Student strikes could broaden the anti-cuts movement to include the wider student population.

As well as university students it is important to campaign among further education college and school students who are also suffering big attacks on their education.

There was also a discussion on the National Union of Students. Although the current leadership is right-wing and the structures are undemocratic, NUS does officially represent millions of students. Socialist Students activists will attend the NUS anti-cuts conference on 29 June in Birmingham. It was pointed out that we need to look for other ways to link up local campaigns into a national movement. We will call for a mass national march against fees and cuts, preferably called by NUS.

Socialist Students will hold a day of action in October with the possibility of coordinated action with our sister organisations in Europe. Claire Laker-Mansfield, who played a leading role in the Sussex 'Stop the Cuts' campaign was provisionally elected as the new Socialist Students national organiser until a full national conference.

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