The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts welcomes NUS’s announcement of a national demo in autumn, called for November 21st. NCAFC will be lending its full support to this demonstration, and activists all over the country will be building for maximum possible mobilisation in London on the day. However, we know that this will not be enough to stop the government’s onslaught against students, education workers and young people.
It is important that the student movement moves off the defensive and sets out its vision of an alternative to Tory class war – free education, funded by taxing the rich. We want to see a democratic education system – this means an end to privatisation, to attacks on free speech on campus and to the harassment, monitoring and deportation of international students. We expect to see a reinvigoration of localised anti-cuts groups on campuses. Students will campaign nationally, but will also hold their Vice Chancellors and local MPs to account – with direct action and campus occupations.
NCAFC will be pushing for a radical and democratic message for the autumn, in line with the motions passed at NUS’s national conference in April. Michael Chessum, NCAFC co-founder and a member of the NUS’s national executive, commented: “It’s vital that the student movement mobilises in a way that can capture the public imagination. ‘Tax the rich to fund education’ will be a core slogan, and we will be organising walkouts and localised direct action across the autumn and into the new year, aimed at triggering a broader fight to save the welfare state from the Tories.”
We will also be using the Wednesday date as an opportunity to organise walkouts among students, especially in schools and FE. Gordon Maloney, NCAFC Scotland rep and the NUS Scotland Vice President for Community, said: “FE and school students are being hit hardest by cuts to EMA and college place, and now with the widespread introduction of fees. School students were at the heart of fighting against the fee rise in 2010. We want to see a living grant for every student in education, and a fees-free FE sector.”
International and postgraduate students are also mobilising. Arianna Tassinari is NCAFC International rep and a student officer at the School of Oriental and African Studies. She said: The fight on postgraduate funding and for fair working conditions for all postgraduate research students must be a central component of the NUS mobilisation. Meanwhile, international students have are increasingly being treated as criminals and cash-cows – ripped off through an unregulated fees market, and subject to xenophobic, draconian visa regulations.”
NCAFC will organise and support direct action, and will put serious energy into backing strike action by workers. Alex Peters-Day, General Secretary at the London School of Economic Students’ Union said, “In 2010 and 2011, we learned that if we are willing to disrupt the ordinary running of education, and unite with workers and academics, we are impossible to ignore. When democracy fails ordinary people, we will have no qualms about using other non-violent means.”