Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/772/17038
Letter to student left groups to discuss joint call for a national demo
A recent survey showed that many new graduates are taking jobs as road sweepers, hospital porters and lollipop ladies because they can't find work in 'professional posts'. More than 20,000 graduates were unemployed six months after completing their degrees.
Combined with sky-high fees and vicious cuts, this highlights the desperate need for a fightback by students.
This letter has been sent by Socialist Students to other left student groups to begin discussions about calling a national demonstration in the new academic year.
Dear National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, Education Activist Network and Student Broad Left,
The recent spending review saw a further declaration of war on education. As part of the government's relentless austerity programme, 'savings' of over £400 million are planned from higher and further education budgets in the next two years.
Attacks include a £60 million cut to maintenance grants, £260 million to be taken from colleges and a further £45 million to be snatched from higher education teaching budgets.
This comes just two weeks after the announcement of shady government talks about making the remainder of the publicly owned student loan company look attractive to private buyers [confirmed by Lib Dem chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander the day after the spending review].
They are setting the stage for the retrospective revision of conditions on student loans, potentially resulting in massive interest rate hikes and a lowering of the threshold at which repayments are made.
Running parallel to all this, we have [Tory education minister] Gove's assault on teachers and school students.
Privatisation, in the form of academies and free schools, is transforming the landscape of state education.
This is coupled with an ideologically based rewriting of the curriculum, threats to school holidays and continuous assaults on teachers' pay, pensions and workload.
The 'revamped' GCSEs will ensure more young people are branded a failure before life has really begun.
In the face of this, the supposed leaders of our movement have abdicated their responsibility to fight.
So far, not so much as a statement has been issued by the National Union of Students (NUS) condemning either the Comprehensive Spending Review or the specific cuts made to education.
And if they can't even get out of bed to condemn cuts, what hope do we have of them leading a fight to stop them?
While we must continue to put pressure on the NUS to change this, in the face of attacks on this scale, it is not possible, nor correct, to simply wait and hope for a lead to descend from on high.
So far, no national student action has been called to take place in the autumn by any group. Yet the mass campaign at Sussex [university, against privatisation], as well as the actions taken by groups on many other campuses this year, show that willingness to fight is not in shortage when campaigns are built with clear aims.
While many conferences are planned, there is a clear need for direct action, starting with a national demonstration in the autumn term.
We propose a meeting of all national groupings on the student left to discuss calling a demo and jointly building towards it.
It's clear that any action would be far stronger if it is called and built for by a coalition of groups rather than just one.
Therefore it makes sense to get together so that we can call a united demonstration that's fully mobilised for.
In contrast to last year's NUS-run demo we would need to develop a clear set of demands and slogans which chime with students.
We will need to continue to develop local campaigns which will feed into this and to appeal to local student unions to back the demonstration, provide transport, etc.
We propose a meeting within the next month to discuss this.
Please email back letting us know if you wish to take part and which dates you would be available to send some representatives.
In solidarity, Claire Laker-Mansfield , Socialist Students national organiser
In The Socialist 3 July 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns