Socialist Students campaigning for free education. Photo: Isai Priya

Socialist Students campaigning for free education. Photo: Isai Priya   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Noah Eden, Sheffield Socialist Students

For too long now, students have been forced to pay for poor-quality higher education. Education should be a right, and free and available to all, not something to be marketised.

Tuition fees were first introduced by the Labour government of recently knighted Sir Tony Blair. Blair promised not to introduce them at all, then promised not to increase them beyond £1,000 a year, before trebling them to £3,000. The most recent rise, by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, increased them to £9,250 a year.

During the pandemic, students were forced to pay £9,250 to sit in our rooms and look at a computer screen. We were lied to about in-person teaching, and lured back to uni accommodation to pay rent.

On top of this, the government is talking about lowering the debt repayment threshold. Well it’s time that students fought back.

With growing student unrest, the National Union of Students (NUS) is calling a walkout on 2 March, with a demonstration in central London, 25 years after the start of tuition fees. This student strike is calling on the government to provide fully funded, free, accessible, lifelong, and a democratised education system.

Socialist Students supports all these demands. But we say the NUS should go further by calling for the cancellation of student debt, and the replacement of student loans with grants – funded by taking the wealth out of the hands of the 1%.

Socialist Students will be doing everything we can to build for the walkout. We are organising local campus rallies, throughout the country, in order to prepare students for 2 March. Socialist Students is demanding that student unions provide transport to take students to London

It is important to support this cause and, through strength in numbers, show this corrupt government that we are fed up with this unfair system. It is crucial that we spread the word to as many students as possible to start the fightback for free and accessible education for all.

Socialist Students annual conference is Saturday 26 February in London to discuss how to rebuild the student movement, and what next after 2 March – visit our website to sign up for updates about the conference