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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 September 2006

Long hours and poverty pay hit students

THE "ALL work and Low pay" report by the TUC and NUS says that students working during term time suffer a "detrimental impact on their studies". Over the last ten years the number of full time students with jobs has risen by 54%.

Matthew Dobson

This will probably increase rapidly as a consequence of top-up fees, 87% of this autumn's new students think they may have to take a part-time job to supplement their income while studying.

Students are forced into low-paid jobs with long hours just to pay for fees, accommodation and other living costs. They are working rather than devoting all their attention to studying, but that is hardly surprising considering the huge amount of debt that graduates and those studying are in. Many students have credit card, bank loan or other debts which are spiralling out of control. Graduates leaving university this year had average debts of 13,252.

This year's drop in university applications also shows that the prospect of debt puts off young people from going to university. Working-class students are struggling the most to get by as 62% of those from poorer backgrounds are working.

Student employment is concentrated in the retail and hospitality sectors - notorious for long unsociable hours and low pay. The socialist spoke to Durham University student Hannah Walter, who works in a fast food restaurant.

"Without working I could never afford being at university. I work in term time and in the holidays. In the holidays I work night shifts and in term time two-hour evening shifts when I should be reading for my course. It's always difficult to get time off work to prioritise my course and I'm always tired when studying".

New Labour's polices are turning higher education into a privilege for the wealthy but where ordinary students can experience the long hours, low pay and exploitation in the workplace that is the norm in Blair's Britain.

Socialist Students believes free education is a right. We demand the scrapping of all tuition fees and the writing off of all student debt. We call for a living grant for all students.

We also link up with ISR in the campaigns Low Pay No Way and Fight for your rights at work. Socialist Students demands the immediate introduction of the trade unions' minimum wage demands as a step towards a living wage.

the Student Socialist

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Are you ready for the new term?

The new term is fast approaching; Socialist Students members across the country are getting ready to meet thousands of young people who may be interested in socialist ideas.

Matt Dobson, Socialist Students national co-ordinator

By now freshers' fairs stalls have been booked at universities and colleges. Socialist Students should also have stalls and leafleting at halls of residence when students are moving in, at the queues on campus when students are signing up for their courses, in the canteens and at events organised by the student unions in the first week of term.

It is useful to have a planned agenda of activities and meetings for the first few weeks. That means advertising society events on leaflets, posters, notice boards and especially on the freshers' fair stalls.

The first Socialist Student meeting of the year should involve political discussions and planning activity for the new term. Focus on issues where students will be looking for solutions and a socialist analysis like the Middle East crisis or the mass movements of students in France and Chile this year. Discussions on What is Socialism? have proved very popular and are a good way of explaining socialist ideas.

Socialist Students is an organisation for students who want to fight back against attacks on education and public services, war and occupation, racism, sexism and homophobia. There are no shortage of issues to plan campaigns and activity on and the first meeting is useful to discuss stalls, petitioning, protests and stunts and work in the student unions.

As well as meetings Socialist Students members are planning social events around which political discussion can take place such as film showings and gigs.

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