Free education protest. Photo: Mary Finch
Free education protest. Photo: Mary Finch

Ted Boyle, Sheffield Socialist Students

Behind closed doors, a major university policy change is being discussed and, typically, its not good news! Vivienne Stern, the CEO of employers’ organisation, Universities UK, insists that students finance the gap in university budgets yet again, through ever-higher tuition fees. This is off the back of a broad financial report, which outlines the very real mess that university managements have found itself in, where issues such as an exodus of international students, whose higher tuition than domestic students many universities rely on, have been compounded by unprecedented inflation.

Yet there are no illusions about the popularity of such a move: “Political suicide”, Stern describes it – very hot in Westminster right now. She urges whoever is in power to implement it that they “act quickly” before an inevitable wave of student outrage. Yes, ‘before anyone notices’ seems to be the strategy they’re going for here!

And no doubt such outrage would be fierce: students are already bearing the brunt of major systemic failings. With the confidence built during the continuing wave of agitation for Palestinian liberation, no doubt we would be on the streets in our thousands, as students did over a decade ago the last time tuition fees were tripled.

But why wait for things to get worse? We students don’t need permission to organise and fight to make university life bearable. Stern says raise tuition fees, we say: ‘Abolish them!’ And secure ample student maintenance grants in turn. Keir Starmer, likely future prime minister, U-turned on Jeremy Corbyn’s free education policy. We need a new mass party that will stand up for students and workers.

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