Class of Covid vs capitalism

Socialist Students says:

  • Our campuses are not safe in Tory and VC hands – fight for student and trade union democratic oversight of all measures to stop the spread of the virus
  • Cancel the fees – government investment not student debt
  • End marketisation – for decent free education and living grants for all
  • No cuts on campus – end low pay and privatisation
  • End inequality, racism, sexism and all forms of oppression
  • Take the wealth off the 1%, fight for socialism
University of Birmingham Socialist Students street meeting

Come to Socialist Students’ national zoom rally on Sunday October 25 at 1pm – register for zoom details here:

To the surprise of absolutely no one, given the Tories’ rubbish response to the pandemic, Covid is spreading through our campuses. The Tories are already blaming students for outbreaks, when it was their push for people to get back into offices, pubs and restaurants that put profits before health & safety.

The Tories and VCs pushed to re-open universities without investing in the measures needed to protect students and staff. Now students are being forced to stay locked in cell-like halls with barely any teaching – maybe without being allowed home at Christmas. In whose interest were students brought back to campuses to face these prison-like conditions? Not theirs!

It’s not surprising that students are demanding a fee refund. It’s been estimated that a year of tuition fees and re-introduction of a grant for all students would cost £11.2bn. We need a mass movement to fight for that now – as well as investment in safe campuses.

A testing system is necessary for us to be able to work, study, socialise and see our family safely. One which is fit for purpose must have enough resources and be run for our benefit, as opposed to making a profit for the Tories’ big business friends.

Socialist Students demands that universities provide free accommodation for students needing to isolate and no charge to terminate contracts early.
University management can’t be trusted to put staff or students, health or access to high-quality education, before their budget sheets. For years they have said the money doesn’t exist for more teaching, resources, etc. Let staff and students inspect the university finances and see that big business isn’t getting rich off our education!

Let’s fight the Tories for the necessary funds for a decent, free, high-quality education for all.

They have shown the money is there when big business or the banks need a bail-out – why not our education system?!

The recent government U-Turn on exam results show the Tories can be beaten. We need to build a mass democratic student movement with a fighting programme for our education and our futures.

For years, universities have been in crisis. It stems from the Blairite and Tory-backed tuition fee funding model, leading to a funding crisis and cuts on campus. This has been exacerbated by Covid – including fewer international students who universities have ripped off with even higher fees.

On top of our campuses being overcrowded and underfunded, the teaching and support staff have been overworked and underpaid. Staff have faced attacks on terms and conditions, and their pensions.

An attack on staff is an attack on our education and Socialist Students has supported the UCU lecturers’ trade union when taking action. Only a united movement of staff and students can challenge university management and make our universities a decent place to live, study and work.

If capitalism can’t afford us a future…

Covid has exposed the class division in society. Capitalist attacks – NHS privatisation, low pay, high rents, student fees and education marketisation – have meant that it’s the working class, young and poor who have suffered most in the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the rich get richer. In fact, America’s 643 billionaires gained $845 billion since March while millions of workers lose their jobs and join foodbank queues.

Capitalism is a system in crisis. From the pandemic, to war, climate change and economic crashes – it’s a system based on the needs of profit for a tiny few and exploitation and misery for the majority of people.

As the rich have gotten richer, working-class and young people have experienced growing poverty, are faced with a lifetime of debt from sky-high fees, and seen growing unemployment and a housing crisis. Now all of this is set to get worse – and young people will be expected to pay for the Covid crisis with our futures.

…Then we can’t afford capitalism
At the same time, working-class and young people have struggled against this rotten system. There was the huge explosion of anger around the Black Lives Matter movement and then A-levels protests which won a U-turn from the Tories.

Both these movements express a desire to fight for change. We need a completely different kind of world, without poverty, war, racism, oppression and inequality; a world which works for the majority in society rather than the 1%. That has to be a socialist world.

This means taking the 125 biggest businesses and banks that dominate the economy in Britain into democratic public ownership. Then society’s wealth and resources can be used to provide a decent future for all, through a democratic socialist plan.

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