The Socialist 3 May 2007 |
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Campaign to Defeat Fees
THE CAMPAIGN to Defeat Fees (CDF) day of action on 27 April involved students in schools, colleges and universities nationwide. We are campaigning for the National Union of Students (NUS) to organise - and build for - a national demonstration on a weekday in the first term of next year under the slogan "no to all fees, cuts, closures and privatisation".
Matt Dobson, Socialist Students National Organiser
Our demands received an enthusiastic response from students, many of whom committed to come on a national demonstration if it is organised.
The day of action gave students the chance to voice their anger and begin to organise against fees and other attacks on education. In several areas it was the first time the CDF has done any campaigning which shows it is drawing wider support.
Bournemouth University students, who first got involved in the CDF at NUS conference, joined in the day of action and for the first time school students at Testbourne Community School near Basingstoke got involved.
Southampton Socialist Students organised a gig and protests throughout May Day to coincide with the PCS strike and the anti-cuts campaign Save Our Services day of action.
It shows the level of opposition to fees that so many protests are going on, with new activists getting involved, while many students' minds are also on exams, or on the job they may have to find over the summer.
Where next for the campaign?
THE CAMPAIGNING will continue with a 1 September CDF national meeting to plan the fightback in the next academic year. If the NUS are still unwilling to take action, CDF will continue to take the initiative!
Although our resources are smaller than the NUS's and we will fight to change its policy, we feel it would be criminal to deny students - thousands of whom will be starting courses in September - the chance to voice their anger against fees.
The 1 September CDF national meeting will bring together those who want to build action against fees in the first term, to discuss and democratically plan what action we can take and when. We will also consider how to make sure this action involves as many as possible, with campaigning starting from the minute students are back at college and university.
If you'd like to get involved, email your name and summer contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0208558794.
Hitting the wall on debt
AT SHEFFIELD University, Socialist Students made a Wall of Debt - inspired by other areas' actions on the 22 February day of action. Despite the inevitable drop-off of student attention towards the end of the academic year, this action was successful. Many Architecture students signed the board as it was produced in one of their studios. More followed, from all disciplines, when the board was unveiled on campus.
Many students tried to work out their expected level of debt - a wide variation in guesses showed the disorientation students feel given all the rapid fees increases of late. Even a professor, who graduated many years before, apparently with no debt, signed and put a figure of £20,000 - not sure where from!
Leaflets advertising the 1 September CDF meeting were handed out, signatures gathered and copies of the socialist sold. The day was a success, and we plan to use the wall again in the near future.
Sheffield University Socialist Students
The real mood of students
AFTER A successful day of action on 22 February, our action this week focused on City of Bristol College, Britain's third biggest with 43,000 students. I spent all day asking students their opinion about tuition fees.
All, yes all, the students I asked were opposed to fees with comments like "fees are shit", "who would want to be in debt?" and "we shouldn't have to pay for education". When asked if they thought the NUS were against fees, again the overwhelming answer was "well, I hope so."
Unfortunately the NUS's inaction has led to fees rising from £0 to £3,000 in just 10 years. We have no reason to suspect the NUS will succeed in stopping the £3,000 cap on fees being lifted, leading to the complete marketisation of our higher education.
What saddened me was how many people said: "I'd like to go to Uni but it's not worth it". For the richest people in society, their children do not have to consider the financial aspect at all. 42% of Bristol Uni students come from private school, but the response at City of Bristol College shows exactly what mood there is among normal students.
Simple but effective
AFTER THE theatricals and mock ballot of February's Day of Action, and as students were currently enjoying a "revision week", Brunel Socialist Students reverted to a simple but effective stall!
Sean Williams, Brunel Socialist Students
It was informative to speak with many new students who were facing the prospect of spending their well-earned summer holidays working in low-paid jobs to give them enough money to get by during the next academic year.
For first-year students (like myself) it seemed the honeymoon period was over. Many of those we talked to not only concluded that a degree wasn't worth the debt that they will eventually incur, but also were unwilling to reveal how much debt they were in, as it was too overwhelming.
After achieving our best sale of the socialist to date, I am extremely confident after our day of action during Brunel students' vacation, that we can build a substantial campaign next year.
THE DAY of action at Manchester University was a success. Some students did not want to sign our declaration calling on the NUS to organise a national demo because they were too rich to care, but we still collected over 60 signatures. These are the students NUS should be representing. There clearly was a mood in favour of a national demo.
JACK YOUD at Eccles College in Salford says Socialist Students there linked the vital fees problem with another issue that affects all students. "Recently Greater Manchester Public Transport Executive (GMPTE) put students' bus fares up to 70p from 50p, and cut services so that it misses out many students who use the bus to get to my college and reduced various other services. I will be sending this petition to the GMPTE, local council, councillors and MPs."