Socialist Students has always opposed tuition fees and supported free education (uploaded 29/09/2021)
Socialist Students has always opposed tuition fees and supported free education (uploaded 29/09/2021)

Sam Hey, Manchester Socialist Party

On Thursday 8 June, rent strikers at the University of Manchester held a rally to show solidarity with 11 students facing disciplinary action from university management. The students occupied management buildings as an escalation of their rent strike campaign, after being forcibly evicted from a seven-week period of occupations. They estimate at least 350 students are withholding rents, demanding: a £1,500 cost-of-living payment to each student, 30% rent reduction across all halls, a three-year rent freeze, a commitment to make 40% of halls affordable under the National Union of Students’ (NUS) definition, and no repercussions for strikers.

The response from university management, to forcibly evict the students, was described in a statement by the NUS as “brutal” and “disgusting”. They now face being kicked out of the university for their protest. Around 30 students attended the rally to show support for the students facing their disciplinaries. A referendum held by the students union in March saw 97% voting to back the rent strike and demand they face no punishment.

When speaking with a group of University and College Union members who were there to show support, they said that the rent strikers had been clear in support of striking workers, stating: “The students were evicted at around 5am, and at 8am they turned up to our picket line.”

Students starting university next year will take on student loans with a lower repayment threshold and a longer period before they are written off. This means they will be paying more for their education, with higher levels of debt when they leave. We need to fight the government for the resources higher education needs. That means ending the marketisation of education and for free education.