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9 February 2001

Coventry University expulsion threat

Non-Payers Stand Firm

STUDENT ACTIVISTS at Coventry University have stepped up their campaign to stop the threatened expulsions of students who are not paying their tuition fees. Officially all students who have not paid by now should no longer be at the university.

Tim, Coventry University

On 1 February mass expulsions were due to take place. At the very least we expected the blocking of students from library and computer facilities to begin.

However, I still have not paid my fees and I'm writing this report on a library computer. The widespread blocking we feared has not yet happened.

This could be down to the slow administrative process, but we believe that the media attention and the pressure of our campaign may have delayed the management's sanctions for now.

However, for many students the chance to receive a higher education never began, or has just ended. Applications to university are down, and drop-out rates continue to rise.

This is because of the introduction of tuition fees and the abolition of the student grant.

The Socialist Party and Save Free Education (SFE) have argued for some time that the introduction of fees will result in a two-tier higher education system. This has been borne out now as campuses at some of the new universities are being threatened with closure after facing financial penalties because they could not attract enough students.

The reason they can't attract enough students to meet their government-imposed targets is because the intake of these new universities comes mainly from state schools.

Now the working-class students who have made it to these colleges face cuts and deterioration of their courses. At Luton, the college faces a 3 million penalty cut in its money from central government.

All the Labour cabinet gained degrees in the days when education was free at the point of use. Now they are in government they have used their power to deny us the right to free education.

Students should give Labour a hammering at the polls in the upcoming general election.

But students can't rely on voting alone to win back free education. Every major right we now enjoy has been won by mass action. The right to vote and form trade unions are good examples.

Students need to use mass action to force the government to abolish fees and restore the grant. Petitions, demonstrations, shut-downs, and the like are all good.

However, only mass non-payment will make fees unworkable and force the government to back down.

Urgent protests against the threatened expulsions to the vice-chancellor, Coventry University, Coventry CV1 5FB. Fax: 024 7688 8083.

Solidarity messages and more information from SFE, PO Box 858, London E11 1YG. Tel: 020 8558 7947.

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