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Build for the Socialist Students day of action on 21 April
Tom Green, Birmingham Socialist Students
This academic year has exposed the greed at the centre of higher education institutions, and many students have been radicalised by the blatant exploitation that has taken place during the pandemic.
When students were invited to campuses across the country in September, the university management knew that teaching would be forced online, and students would be confined in their accommodation or even have to resort to learning remotely from home. Despite this knowledge, management intentionally lied to students about the opportunities for teaching to take place in-person to order to secure students' tuition and rent money.
This alone would be cause for action. However, this is paired with the misuse of student money to fund vice-chancellors' bonuses and university vanity projects. There has been no evidence of the investment of fees into enriching student experience, and vital resources like use of libraries and mental health services have been restricted despite the desperate need for access to these amenities.
It is clear that we have not received the experience we were promised, and now is the time to express our frustration and anger through a national day of action. However, as a movement fighting for student justice, we must broaden our agenda. It is not just a movement for the refunding of tuition fees this year, because this is not the only year that students have been taken advantage of. For as long as tuition fees have been charged, students have been seen as a means to make money. It is vital that we address this with a fight for free education, because inherent in a marketised university system is the exploitation of students.
Students are already taking action through rent strikes, protests and online campaigns addressing issues specific to this year. But as Socialist Students, we must link these struggles to a broader agenda that fights for publicly funded, democratically run universities.
To achieve student justice, we must unite and organise a mass student movement based on the principles of free education for all. That's why Socialist Students is calling for a day of action on 21 April, the week after students return to campus, as part of building for a national student strike to take on the university bosses and the government.
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