The Socialist 14 April 2021 |
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Students in action: Protest on 21 April
Photo: Socialist Party Wales (Click to enlarge)
Michael Morgan, Socialist Students national chair
During the past academic year students have gone through a radically changed learning environment, at great cost. There has been no reduction in already extortionate tuition fees and, in most cases, no reduction in rents.
Student mental health services are still inadequate, and our job prospects once we graduate are the least promising they've been since the 2008-09 financial crash. Capitalism has failed us again and again.
However, we have fought back. Last summer, A-level students led the way with the fight against a flawed and class-biased awarded exam results and won victories. Students have also been involved with the anti-racist Black Lives Matter protests, as well as rent strikes.
Kill the Bill
More recently, we've been part of the 'Kill the Bill' democratic rights protests, and protests against sexual harassment and violence - including the sit-in protest at Warwick University.
Socialist Students has been to the fore in these struggles, including in Swansea, Bangor and Plymouth where our members have been organising rent strikes.
We have consistently called for an immediate refund of tuition fees for the year for all students, paid for by the government, as the first step towards abolishing them and cancelling all student debt. We have also demanded a refund for unused student accommodation, taking university halls of residence back in-house, stopping evictions, ending poor housing, and to protect rent strikers. Socialist Students has called a day of action on 21 April over these issues.
While the National Union of Students has come out in support for some of these movements, a lack of real, determined leadership is apparent.
We need a democratic and fighting national students' union. A union which calls for an end to the marketisation of education now, and which mobilises to change the unacceptable learning conditions at universities. Through rent concessions and the A-level protests of last summer, we know that if we fight, we can win, so it is important that we do this!
Ultimately, we must fight to end the system which has allowed these conditions to arise. Capitalism seeks to make education a profitable product rather than a pursuit for knowledge. Commercialisation has undermined staff working conditions as well as our learning and living conditions, and will continue to do so for as long as it is profitable.
We stand for free education, better housing and living conditions - join the fightback and join Socialist Students.