Socialist Worker

New student protest to fight toxic Tory reforms

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2276

Tens of thousands of students walked out against cuts and tuition fees in November and December last year (Pic: Charlotte Groves)

Tens of thousands of students walked out against cuts and tuition fees in November and December last year (Pic: Charlotte Groves)


Thousands of students are preparing to descend on London next week for a national demonstration against government attacks on higher education.

The Tories are not satisfied with excluding working class students from universities with £9,000 a year fees.

Now they have brewed a noxious cocktail of attacks and put them into a white paper on higher education.

The plans would open the door to the market and make the idea of public universities a thing of the past.

The white paper would allow private companies to take over “failing” institutions and create a two-tier system.

Students would shoulder even higher amounts of debt—anticipated to be over £50,000 at the end of their studies.

The number of student places would be reduced every year, and the 10,000 places created last year will be slashed.

The demonstration, on Wednesday 9 November, will march to the Occupy protest at St Paul’s Cathedral.

It will take place almost exactly a year after a march of over 50,000 students and education workers started a wave of walkouts and occupations against the tripling of tuition fees.

Join

The students plan to join up with electricians from construction sites who are also set to protest on the day (see page 13).

Resistance to these attacks, and building solidarity with striking workers on 30 November, was the central theme of a 400-strong Education Activist Network (EAN) teach-in last Saturday.

Anger at the government’s plans and a determination to fight back ran through the conference.

Arnie Joahill, a student at the University of East London, opened the conference. “They’ll be able to put any price on education and target institutions that already struggle,” he said.

“London Met is facing massive cuts which will destroy the university, yet it has more black students than the whole of the Russell Group put together.

“They’re coming to privatise Britain, but we will fight for all of our services—and we will win.”

Activists are building on the militancy and breadth of the movement seen last year. Dexter Hill, a student at Sheffield City College, said, “I was at school last year and now I’m at college. People are just really, really angry.

Paying

“They’re asking, ‘Why is our EMA being cut? Why are we paying so much to go to university?

“We were inspired by the Millbank occupation last year. We need what happened last year to continue. The

9 November demo is a chance to build solidarity between students and lecturers.”

That solidarity is well underway. College and university lecturers urged students to join their picket lines on 30 November and leaflet colleges in the run up to the strikes.

Left wing Labour MP John McDonnell said it was the job of everyone to “bring the strands of resistance together”.

And it’s not just in Britain that students are fighting back.

Ruby Hirsch, a student at Glasgow university and NUS executive member, said, “We’re part of a global resistance. Just look at Chile, Greece and the Occupy movement.

“We’re going to win—but the only way to do that is by strikes, solidarity and using university occupations as organising centres across the country.”

National demonstration: Our education, not their business

Wednesday 9 November, 12noon, ULU, Malet St, London WC1E 7HY.

See http://educationactivistnetwork.wordpress.com


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