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No education cuts: We can win the battle!
Not content with pushing through a trebling of university fees and cutting EMA, this government is planning to cut £1 of every £8 it contributes to teaching and research in higher education in England - a total of £940 million.
Our schools and colleges are under attack too. In further education, 20,000 jobs could go because of the government's cut backs.
All universities bar one are set to have their teaching funds slashed savagely. Poorer universities will be hit the hardest. London Metropolitan University, recently threatened with bankruptcy, is facing a 7.6% cut in its budget.
If these cuts go through courses will close, fees and class sizes will increase, and services will be cut. But not if we resist.
The fantastic movement against fees and cuts last year showed the potential that exists to fight back. The mass movement beat the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament into retreats and brought this 'coalition of cutters' to within 22 votes of defeat.
Academic staff in colleges and universities, organised in the UCU union, have taken strike action. This action brought many places to a halt and was supported by Youth Fight for Education (YFE) and many student activists on the picket lines.
The massive 26 March demonstration will see students and workers marching side by side against all the cuts.
Universities are setting out plans for implementing the cuts. Oxford, Cambridge, Exeter and more are looking to charge the full £9,000 a year. The student movement has a clear opportunity to respond and show management how much resistance these cuts will meet.
Already, Glasgow University has seen 2,000 march and students at Liverpool University have occupied to stop management meetings taking place. This resistance has to be linked to a campaign to inform and involve other students. What services are faced with cuts? Is your lecturer threatened with the sack?
University managements have been and can be forced back. Many universities regularly go into debt temporarily on the basis that they will receive increased income in the future.
Students and staff must raise the demand that universities set a budget based on no fees increase and no cuts. Just one university following this route would strike a serious blow to the government's plans for higher education. Ten would throw them into chaos.
The battle is not lost on EMA either. A mass anti-cuts movement could win its restoration.
YFE demands that the government reverses the cuts in education, restores EMA and repeals sky-high university fees. But to achieve this a mass and sustained campaign is needed. Further national days of action must be organised. They have the potential to be bigger and bolder even than the protests last winter.
With both the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in the schools and sixth forms and the UCU discussing coordinated strike action, there is the potential for staff to link up with students and have a one-day education shutdown.
We need a national student movement that brings together representatives from the anti-cuts groups that exist and will spring up across the country. This is urgent in order to build a united, coherent fightback with the power to defeat the cuts.
In The Socialist 23 March 2011:
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