This week there’s been another set of statistics showing working and middle class people are finding the prospect of £50,000 worth of debt enough to make them rethink plans to embark on a university education. Official UCAS statistics, have confirmed what Socialist Students has said all along. There’s been an 8.7% drop in applications for the first year of students facing the government’s enormously hiked in tuition fees.
Last week The Socialist reported that the National Union of Students (NUS) had called a ‘week of action’ and a walk-out of students against the government’s plans for cuts, privatisation and marketisation set to devastate our universities. Socialist Students welcomes the announcement, but says that the NUS leadership must ‘put their money where their mouth is’ and start build for mass action.
We call on NUS to immediately name the date for this student strike which should include university, college and school students across the country. As workers in the public sector look set to stage another strike over attacks on pensions, jobs and conditions, we argue that NUS should co-ordinate the student walk-out with strike action taken by workers. Free education and the reinstatement of EMA must also be central demands; these are inextricably linked to all of the government’s attacks on education
The 2010 student movement showed that the right-wing, New Labour affiliated bureaucracy in the leadership of NUS cannot be trusted with the fight to defend our future. While students walked out of colleges, schools and universities in their thousands, NUS saw fit to condemn student protesters and organise a candle lit vigil – in reality a funeral for education – on the day parliament voted on tripling fees. This latest announcement of action marks a shift in NUS brought about by that movement and the by the big youth and student actions taken since then, such as the Youth Fight for Jobs Jarrow March.
Socialist Students members across the country need to be organising to put pressure on NUS not to sell us out again. The fact that the leadership have felt forced to announce action is evidence of the huge anger bubbling under the surface. We need to mobilise on our campuses to force our local students unions and, in turn, the national leadership to prepare for a massive strike.
What should Socialist Students groups be doing?
- Organise a campaigning stall to petition NUS to name a date for the walk-out and coordinate with striking workers
- Call a public meeting to discuss the walk-out on your campus. Invite representatives from the students union and campus trade unions.
- Organise mass leafleting, postering and more to get a big turn out.
- Use the meeting to discuss building for the action on campus, what are the students union doing to make sure there’s a maximum turn out and the strike is solid? Are they demanding that NUS name the date?
- Put forward a motion at a students union general meeting or council calling for NUS to name the date and strike with workers but also mandating your local union to support and organise action with or without the blessing of the NUS leadership.
- Be ready to take a lead in getting the show on the road! A successful strike needs lots of organisation and building work, and we want to be at the forefront of the movement to defend education and demand our future.