Starmer tells Liverpool students ‘free education is impossible’
Labour leader Keir Starmer was recently asked in a Q&A by a sixth-form student, presumably preparing to go to university in the near future, whether he would consider abolishing tuition fees or student loans. After all, this was one of Starmer’s ten pledges, when he ran for Labour leader, therefore it is a rational question.
Starmer’s response won’t surprise you. “It is impossible”, and “we cannot afford it”. By ‘we’, Starmer is taking about the capitalist class, who quite enjoy the benefits of the marketisation of higher education.
The Conservative Party and the capitalist system offer nothing for young people. And Starmer is showing that Labour doesn’t either.
It is worth remembering that it was the Labour government, under Tony Blair, who Starmer models his philosophy on, that first introduced tuition fees in 1997.
Students that get lower-paid jobs after attending university, can expect to be in debt until at least their mid-50s.
Socialist Students is building on our growth and success from last year. At the University of Liverpool, student walkouts and ‘solidarity pickets’ were important in supporting ongoing strike action by the University and College Union (UCU).
Our ‘night bus’ campaign has now been official adopted by the University of Liverpool guild (student union)
In both Socialist Students and the Socialist Party, we fight for free education and the rights of working-class students.
And at Socialist Students meetings, we’ll also be discussing the revolutionary ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky.
Dean Young and Conor O’Neill
Salford – loans barely scratch surface
After the historic strike wave, this year’s freshers seemed more political than previous. A popular topic of conversation was maintenance loans, barely meeting the cost of rents, if at all.
Most students I spoke with were having to work alongside their studies. When I asked one if they think it will affect their university work, they responded: “I don’t really have much choice”.
I was impressed by the number of students who came up to our campaign stall that had an understanding of socialism already in their mind. This provided us with a great opportunity to speak about our programme and what we stand for.
Our next student meeting is on capitalism and the climate emergency, a subject highlighted by the students as something they care about.
Salford Socialist Students meeting – Thursday 28 September, 5pm, The Old Pint Pot
Dundee – defying undemocratic order, with support from workers
A big thank you to Unite the Union members at Dundee University for refusing to comply with requests to remove Socialist Students from campus during the freshers fair.
We were out campaigning in support of striking staff. But student union management tried to get us removed, and called security, after we refused on democratic grounds.
I know the security guard a bit from previous picket lines. I explained that we were leafleting students, trying to get them to support the strike, and join their staff on the picket lines, as well as encouraging young people to join Unite.
He told the student union management that he wasn’t prepared to remove us from campus, telling other security guards to stand down. In the end, all we had to do was move our table slightly.
Coventry and Birmingham City – students want Tories out
At Coventry and Birmingham City universities, Socialist Students collected almost 100 names on lively stalls, meeting those who seek a socialist way forward. Students are worried about the loan repayment threshold being lowered, and that rent and living costs outstrip loans.
Students in insecure work, others living precariously one research grant to the next, and lecturers in the University and College Union (UCU) all signed the petitions on our stall. They all commented on the ‘race to the bottom’ that had chased them since starting work as young teenagers.
One student agreed that working while studying impacts on results in the short term, and long-term life quality. Another student said that he was concerned about the devaluing of degrees through student debt, that he and many others had considered dropping out, or taking apprenticeships instead.
Socialist Students campaign stalls and meetings are just some of the things we do. We’re building Socialist Students groups on campuses. And going down to support striking workers on picket lines too.
Students want the Tories out. But many have no faith in the pro-austerity Labour Party, having already reneged on its commitments on free education and climate action.
Many students feel drained from poor-quality privatised education, and are seething from the audacity of board members raking in salaries of over £200,000, while students suffer black-mould accommodation. And their teachers are not much better off.
In Birmingham, the Labour council has been declared bankrupt after spending years trying to break workers’ strikes and cut local services. We say students and workers should link up to coordinate action against the bosses.
Birmingham City – weight of uni fees and lack of housing
We worked hard to put the word out about Socialist Students. 71 students expressed their interest in Socialist Students across the week, with 14 people coming to our first meetings.
Common grievances discussed at our campaign stalls included the exponential weight of university fees, the availability of student housing, or rather lack of it, and worries about lack of security and agency in future workplaces.
With issues like the student loan repayment plan continuing to plague universities, Socialist Students will continue to reach out to students. And we will work towards strengthening the fight against exploitation by the vicious market that education has been allowed to become.
Leeds Beckett – how can we drive Tories out?
A dozen students left their contact details to find out more about Socialist Students, before it started raining. While more students took our leaflets, asked us to explain what we mean by socialism, or how we can drive all the Tories from power – blue and red. And a Socialist Students supporter, who’d helped on the campaign stall, joined the Socialist Party afterwards.
Get involved, visit socialiststudents.org.uk