Students from across Britain are mobilising for a big demonstration on Wednesday of next week against soaring fees, course cuts and Tory attempts to bar universities to the poor.
The demonstration, organised by the NUS and UCU unions, will bring together students and workers.
The mood for revolt was shown as over 400 students gathered in central London on Sunday to discuss the future of higher education at the Education Activist Network (EAN) conference, and build the fight to stop the Tories.
Speaker after speaker called for occupations, strikes and coordinated action to stop the cuts.
Francesca Byron is a third year History of Art student at Liverpool John Moores University.
She told Socialist Worker, “I’m here to fight the cuts in our universities and the public sector.
“At the beginning of term we had students supporting workers at the Stagecoach bus workers’ picket line.
“We gathered new students in on that and had 40 students on the budget day protests.
“We’re starting to link up with the workers in the library at the uni as well and the Unison reps there as well as the UCU.”
“It’s important to think about what we do after the demo on 10 November. We need to bring people into activity like fighting course cuts and holding occupations.
“The movement has to give people the confidence to pose the argument that the money is there—not just in government but also in the universities.
“At John Moores for example, last year the university turned over a £2 million profit and yet they’ve cut politics and geography courses already and they’re trying to take more.
“Our vice-chancellor has got a chauffeur-driven car—that’s where the money’s going. We have to be clear about how we’re going to get it back.”
Alan Bailey is LGBT officer for the NUS. He told a workshop during the conference, “In mainstream gay magazine Attitude, they did a feature on the best gay role models.
“Some of the people were activists and campaigners, but horrifically they put Lord Browne in.
“He is no role model, he is a traitor to LGBT people.”
Lord Browne’s name was mud at the conference. Students are furious at his plans for higher education.
Browne’s review of higher education funding plans for unlimited fees so that elite universities can name their price for education—cutting out working class students.
The level of class anger was palpable—students and workers are clear that this is not just an economic attack but also an ideological one on the need for public services, and who deserves them.
Julie Waterson, an FE teacher in north London, said, “We have to be clear that these cuts are not necessary and are a declaration of class war.
“We have to have the arguments, and all the facts and figures at our fingertips—we have to be as ideological for our side as they are for theirs.
“We can’t just applaud the French students, we have to organise solidarity meetings and raise the arguments of strikes and occupations in our colleges.
“We need the broadest possible unity and get out on the streets.”
Matt Bond from the NUS disabled students’ committee executive said, “The last time disabled people fought back, we chained ourselves to buses and the gates of Downing Street.
“The police couldn’t arrest people because they didn’t have the right ramps in the van!
“We need to fight back again, with militant tactics, and take the Tories down.”
Dane Minnelli, a third year student from Leeds Metropolitan University, told Socialist Worker, “I would never have gone to university if these changes had come through.
“My little brother is coming up to university age, but with the lifting of the cap on fees he doesn’t think he can afford to go to university.
“The Tories are turning the clock back on the working class.
“I don’t think it serves any purpose waiting for the next election to kick the Tories out.
“The only way we can exercise our democratic voice at the moment is to take to the streets and fight them in mass numbers—it’s up to us to get organised.”
Everyone needs to build support for the 10 November demonstration to make sure there is the largest turnout of students, lecturers and
delegations of other workers.
Fund Our Future—Stop Education Cuts
Demonstrate: Wednesday 10 November
Assemble 11.30am, Horse Guards Avenue central London, SW1A
Called by NUS and UCU unions
Go to www.demo2010.org