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Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1116/31819

From The Socialist newspaper, 13 January 2021

Refund student rent and fees - fight for free education and make the 1% pay

The first weeks of 2021 have seen an explosion of student anger. Students are paying extortionate rent and tuition fees for education by Zoom and unused accommodation. The number of student groups organising rent strikes is growing, and increasingly individual universities are offering concessions. Socialist Party and Socialist Students members are participating - making the case for rent and fee refunds and for free education, paid for by the 1%.
Join Socialist Students' national meeting 'Refund the rent, cancel the fees and fight for free education' Wednesday 20 January at 6pm - visit Socialist Students on Facebook for Zoom details.
Below we print a statement from the Swansea University rent strike that Socialist Students initiated.

  (Click to enlarge)

Since moving to university in September, students at Swansea University have been treated as a reliable source of income by the university, rather than as students. We were moved to Swansea during a pandemic, when the university was fully aware that we would either rarely access campus, or not access it at all.

Most students at the university could've undertaken the first term from their laptop at home, and the upcoming term will be no different. We have seen students' extortionate rents being syphoned out of our already criminally low maintenance loans, for a service we don't require. As we head into a new lockdown, it is clear that on-campus learning will be minimal.

Conflicting advice from the UK government and devolved governments has caused great confusion among students, and the university has remained shockingly silent. Amid all this, a student mental health crisis is raging. For years, mental health support nationally has been cut to the bone, and the pandemic has revealed the effects of this.

Forced away from home unnecessarily, many students have struggled with the isolation of the pandemic and lack of social interaction outside of their accommodation bubble. All this to line the pockets of the university. At the same time, students have been set difficult January deadlines, with no access to on-campus support for assignments and no help over Christmas.

This comes at a time when the university plans on making huge redundancies across departments. This means that while students cough up 9,000 a year in fees and thousands more in rent, the university is actively cutting staff numbers and lowering the quality of our courses. We support our staff and the University and Colleges Union (UCU) in its fight against these redundancies.

The government and university vice-chancellors have taken students for granted throughout this crisis. We will not pay. We are calling for students to withhold rent from the university. We will be working with university rent strike groups around the country, of which there are now over 45. In numbers, we will win!

We demand:


Come to Socialist Students online conference

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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In The Socialist 13 January 2021:


News

Our health and livelihoods before their profits

Londoners suffer and Khan piles on pressure

Bosses earn workers' annual wage in three days


NHS

NHS Emergency - Fight for a fully funded, publicly owned, socialist NHS

Dispatches from the front - health workers speak out

NHS pandemic warnings ignored - renationalise our NHS


Schools

Schools: Act together to oppose unsafe numbers and rising workload


Economy

Global capitalism at most dangerous conjuncture since the 1930s


Vaccines

Fully resource the vaccination programme now

Covid vaccine nationalism threatens pandemic response


International news

How should socialists respond to the 6 January attacks on Capitol Hill?


Retail

Lockdown 3.0 - fight to make our shops safe!

Ryan Aldred: Why I'm standing for Usdaw's EC


Workplace news

Unison get sec election shows left can win NEC

Royal mail management forced to make concessions

British Gas workers strike against 'fire and rehire' plans

Get stuck in to build a fighting, democratic PCS union


Youth and students

Refund student rent and fees - fight for free education and make the 1% pay

Exams scrapped again - young people need a future with jobs and free education


Campaigns and party news

Help us fund the fight for Socialism

TUSC to hold local elections conference in February


Review

Book Review: Humankind - Dispelling the myth that humans are too selfish for socialism


 

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