Socialist Worker

Students and staff cram into education teach-in

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2191

Around 350 university and college students and teachers came together last Saturday for the Take Back Education teach-in at King’s College in London.

King’s is at the heart of the battle against cuts in education, with 10 percent being slashed from all departments, and some disappearing altogether.

This situation is replicated across Britain—but the teach-in showed the fightback.

The UCU lecturers’ union at King’s is balloting for strikes against cuts.

The ballot starts this week, with the union hoping to take action before Easter.

Jim Wolfreys, president of the UCU at King’s, spoke at the teach-in.

“They are using the economic crisis to reshape education along market lines,” he said.

The result of a strike ballot at Sussex University will be announced this week.

Sarah Young, a student from Sussex, said, “Students need to help build workers’ confidence, and there needs to be cross-union cooperation on campus so people don’t fight alone. “At Sussex we have had meetings, demonstrated and occupied against the cuts. We need a coordinated national fight back. Whichever university is first to strike we need occupations and demonstrations in solidarity. We can win, but we can only win if we fight.”

The conference broke into workshops to debate and discuss various issues.

Alex Callinicos, a professor at King’s, spoke alongside Stathis Kouvalakis, a lecturer and radical theorist, on the corporate takeover of universities.

Another workshop addressed Islamophobia on campuses, police raids and attempts to turn lecturers into spies for the immigration services.

Speakers included Assed Baig, president of Staffordshire University and Elane Heffernan from the Hands Off My Workmate campaign, which organises migrant cleaners.

Students and workers agreed to go back to their campuses and build resistance to the cuts.

Teach-ins on a similar model across campuses could bring together forces needed to defeat government plans and set out a vision for a different kind of education.

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Tue 2 Mar 2010, 18:07 GMT
Issue No. 2191
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