Socialist Worker

Simon Englert, University of Sussex - ‘A year ago this would have been unthinkable’

Issue No. 2181

Students at Sussex protest against cuts

Students at Sussex protest against cuts


Seeing the recent wave of student occupations and demonstrations across Europe and the world, some people argue that nothing like it will ever happen in Britain.

But there is no doubt that in the last year we have seen a radical change in Britain’s student movement.

It started with the wave of occupations in universities against Israel’s assault on Gaza in January. Today it is taking the form of resistance to the neoliberal attacks on our education and solidarity with workers’ struggles.

Campaigns against cuts in education at London Metropolitan and Liverpool universities, the anti-cuts demonstrations at King’s College London, or the building of the resistance against 600 job losses at Leeds University and against the closure of the sociology department in Birmingham are all signs of this.

At the University of Sussex, management has recently announced 115 compulsory redundancies and the termination of 72 short-term contracts.

A series of demonstrations and public meetings have taken place, culminating in 500 students protesting outside a university Senate meeting and 300 of them storming the building. A year ago this would have been unthinkable.

The strikes in the post and the bin workers’ victory in Brighton has shown the militancy of workers, and of student involvement in these struggles. Students have visited the picket lines, and strikers have been invited to speak in student unions.

This is the unity we need to build. The Right to Work Conference in January is an obvious place to do so.

There is no reason to look over the sea and nostalgically contemplate what is happening on the continent.

There is a clear shift happening here and we need to be at the centre of it, shape it and fight to put the years of defeat behind us.

For info on the Right to Work conference go to » righttowork.org.uk


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