Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/973/26532
Socialist Students day of action demands free education
Across England and Wales students took part in the education shutdown day of action to fight for free education on 22 November coinciding with the Tories' budget. Protests, marches and campaign stalls took place on over 15 campuses. The Tories are riven by splits and infighting and the budget offered no way forward for young people. Now let's organise and fight to drive them out! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or text your name and university, college or school to 07749379010.
Students from colleges and universities in London gathered in Parliament Square to protest the latest Tory budget. A pensioner walking past took to the open mic: "they want to divide us, old against young", pointing at parliament he said "we can't let that happen."
The Socialist Students open mic was an opportunity for students to tell the Tories what they thought of the budget. One student from Goldsmiths university made a stirring speech about people struggling on poverty wages and facing benefit cuts. She started a chant: "Single mothers and the sick, did not start the deficit, that's bullshit, come off it, the enemy is profit".
We chanted against Theresa May, tuition fees and an education system being kept for the rich alone.
Goldsmiths Socialist Students society president Ellen Kenyon Peers said: "Hammond doesn't seem very good at his sums, he seems to think there isn't any money for this" but reeled off the tax avoidance scandals and Trident as examples of the fact the money is there.
Education should be a right and not a privilege, and we don't just want to fight for it for our generation but future generations access to free education. Elliot, a student from Woodhouse college, said: "The 1% have too much wealth... and we need to change that" as a cheer went through the crowd.
Most importantly students repeatedly made the point that the Tories are weak and divided. It's the responsibility of young people, students and workers to organise now to kick out this rotten government.
Helen Pattison, London Socialist Party youth and student organiser
Birmingham Socialist Students mobilised massive support from all major Brum universities and colleges for our free education demonstration.
Young and old flocked to our stall to pledge their support for free education and an end to Tory austerity by signing our petitions, making donations and giving campaigners encouragement.
One young person said: "The Paradise Papers show that the money's there, it's just not in the right places for those that need it most."
One elderly gentleman told us of his granddaughter's dilemma about whether she should apply to university and said: "The reality is more young people have to go to university nowadays to get a career that's capable of paying for the very basics. Why should access to university then only be made available to those who can afford £9,000 a year? Taking on debt like that turns many young people away, it's totally rigged."
With the Tory government moving from crisis to crisis and free education being a flagship policy of Corbyn's 'youthquake', an end to crippling tuition fees seems winnable.
This is why it is more important now than ever to keep up the momentum not only for free education but for an end to Tory austerity as a whole.
Sam Witts, Birmingham University Socialist Students
Several students made their voices heard on campus as part of the Socialist Students society. It is the first event in a campaign to fight for better education at the university, for both students and staff. We are protesting against the 75 unnecessary job cuts announced recently. We protested because while students have to scrounge for change to print their assignments, the university spends £700,000 a year on the vice-chancellor.
While out on campus we felt an air of discontent. Students are not happy with being saddled with debt for the majority of their lives. Staff are unhappy with the fact that 75 jobs are being cut to save money, and eight faculties are being merged to five, which will inevitably lead to admin staff cuts, while the university advertises for a chauffeur for university executives!
Other societies such as the feminist society and education union UCU supported us. We collected over 100 signatures on our petition which we hand delivered to the vice-chancellor's secretary. Unfortunately he was too busy to actually meet with the students face to face.
This is only the beginning though. We will be back, and won't stop until the vice-chancellor has agreed to freeze tuition fees, stop the 75 jobs cuts and prevent the merging of faculties.
If you are interested in what we stand for and want to get involved, you can find us in room 1083 at 7pm every Monday in Nuffield Theatre.
James, Southampton University Socialist Students
'Leeds For Free Education' jointly with University of Leeds Socialist Students organised to protest yet another austerity budget brought in by a government so out of touch they recently claimed there were no unemployed people in the UK.
Speakers at our protest included those from education union UCU before a lively and very loud march through the city centre, ending with speakers from the Royal College of Nursing, Socialist Students regional committee, and a young speaker from Huddersfield Kirklees College.
- More about Socialist Students: socialiststudents.org.uk
In The Socialist 29 November 2017:
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