A national protest by students and lecturers in London this week shows the fury over Tory plans to bar the poor from education. The revolt has to grow and deepen.
Last week, the Tories said that university fees should rise to £9,000 a year, although they claim that the average will be £6,000. And that’s on top of making cuts in jobs and courses.
The National Union of Students (NUS) and UCU union’s demo must only be the beginning of the fightback.
Across Britain, students have responded to the cuts by getting organised and active.
Students at Goldsmiths College in south London held a mass rally with lecturers and went into occupation for 24 hours over cuts last week.
Over 700 students protested at Cambridge University. And students from across London protested at the LSE against cabinet minister Chris Huhne.
In Oxford, students organised a huge protest—so vibrant that just the news of it forced cowardly Vince Cable to cancel his trip to the university.
Some 2,000 students took to the streets of the city anyway, carrying placards that said “Turn Oxford into Paris” and “F**k Fees”.
These actions are incredibly important—they involve new people and give others the confidence to fight back.
Students need to follow these examples everywhere.
Ren, a student involved in the Goldsmiths occupation, told Socialist Worker, “What we’ve done here is great, but we have to see it all over the country.”
Ashok Kumar, student union education officer at LSE said, “This week’s demonstration is not an end in itself. It forced students to organise—and it opened up spaces for radical students. I want to see more direct action.
“The NUS implies that after the demo we’ll all put on our suits and go and lobby the government—but no social movement was ever built like that. And the strategy of being in the pockets of the Labour government failed.
“If we don’t fight now, education will become a monolith of business-friendly subjects shaped to market needs.”
Brilliant militancy was shown by students in Dublin, Ireland, last week as some 40,000 surged through the streets of the city over the rise in registration fees in universities—doubling them to £3,000 (main picture).
Some students, including Socialist Workers Party members and supporters, staged an occupation in the lobby of the Department of Finance.
The police, fearing protests would spread, attacked them with batons and dogs. Mounted police were brought in to deal with students.
Student activists must discuss how to take the movement forward after the protest.
Fund our future. Stop education cuts protest, Wednesday 10 November, assemble 11.30am, Horse Guards Avenue, central London SW1A
Education Activist Network coordinating meeting: Where next after the national demo? Monday 15 November, 6pm, King’s College London. Speakers include Aaron Porter (NUS President) and Alison Lord (Tower Hamlets College striker)
The case for revolution. A London-wide meeting organised by the Socialist Worker Student Society. Mon 22 Nov, 6pm, Clement House, LSE, London. With Alex Callinicos (King’s College lecturer and author of the Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx), Mark Bergfeld (NUS NEC) and Fraser Anderson (Oxford University student)