Motion to NUS national executive on free education

freeedNCAFC members are proposing the following motion to the NUS National Executive Council meeting on 13 May (the last meeting of the outgoing NEC).

This is a very basic motion to confirm what NUS’s new policy is. We are discussing proposing a more extensive motion on campaigning for free education to the first meeting of the newly elected NEC – draft out soon.

The 13 May meeting will also discuss other motions, including a large number remitted from NUS conference – post on this shortly.

NB NUS NEC voted down the motion! See here (added 10 June)

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Motion 4: Free Education Motion Clarification

Proposed by: James McAsh
Seconded by: Rosie Huzzard, Gordon Maloney, Charles Barry

NEC Believes:
1. NUS National Conference 2014 passed amendment 215c ‘Free Education’ which committed NUS to a free education position. This was made very clear in the resolves: “To make the case for free education and demand that free, accessible, quality education, and decent wages, public services and benefits, are funded by:
a. Ending tax evasion and avoidance and cracking down on tax havens
b. Imposing serious taxes on the incomes, inheritance and capital gains of the rich
c. Taking the banks, and their wealth, under democratic control”
2. The amendment also committed NUS to opposing all forms of graduate contribution, including a graduate tax: “To oppose and campaign against all methods of charging students for education – including tuition fees and a ‘graduate tax’ which is nothing more than a euphemism for ‘student debt’”
3. The original motion, which the Free Education text amended, committed NUS to a funding model based on graduate contributions.
4. That the amendment was an ‘Add Amendment’ and did not delete the contradictory parts.
5. That the motion, as it currently reads, is internally contradictory.

NEC Further Believes:
1. That the inter-relationship with the motions was wrong: it should not be possible to have an internally contradictory policy.
2. That the submitters of the amendment clearly did not intend for the end policy to be internally contradictory, and nor did conference when it voted for the amendment.
3. That due to the lengthy count on this amendment and the falling of the guillotine, it was not possible to debate the parts to delete the commitment to the graduate tax in the original motion.
4. Conference knew what it was voting for: free education and opposition to all forms of student contribution.
5. That the policy needs to be interpreted one way or the other.

NEC Resolves:
1. To interpret NUS national policy on education funding as being unambiguously in favour of free education and against all forms of student contribution.
2. To act on the basis of this in the run-up to the General Election and after.
3. To publicise NUS’s historic change of position.

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  1. Motion passed by NUS conference 2014 (215c – Free education)

    Conference believes

    1. There is an alternative paying for university through tuition fees or a graduate tax – public investment for free education.
    2. The proposal to replace tuition fees with a ‘graduate tax’ is simply replacing one form of student debt with another. Under both systems the experience for the overwhelming majority of students would be the same: to pay tens of thousands of pounds for a university degree over the course of a number of decades after graduation, taking the form of automatic deductions from graduates’ wages every month.
    3. Higher education is a public good and should be free for everyone to access.
    4. Free education would pay for itself. The government’s own figures show that for every £1 invested in higher education the economy expands by £2.60.
    5. Investing in free education would not only offer opportunities for young people but would play a central role in reviving the economy now and in promoting longer-term prosperity and growth for the future.
    6. There is an austerity agenda that refuses to fund education properly, which produces a false choice between underfunded, fee-laden, debt-ridden education for the many or free, elite education for the privileged few.
    7. This is no choice at all.
    8. NUS believes in democracy – but political democracy is incomplete when the distribution of wealth is violently unequal and undemocratic.
    9. Vast wealth lies in the coffers of a handful of rich, powerful people and their private businesses, instead of being invested in socially useful purposes such as education.
    10. In 2008, the UK government spent £850 billion to bail out banks, but these banks have continued to operate much as before, instead of being required to spend that public money on the public good.
    11. If this wealth was instead under democratic control, our society could use it to build a comprehensive accessible free education system for all and pay every education worker decently, and still have plenty left over for free, world-class healthcare, good social housing, and decent public services and benefits for all.
    12. NUS should reaffirm the idea that education is a right not a privilege

    Conference resolves

    1. To reject the absurd idea that our society lacks the resources to provide decently for its citizens, and make campaigning for the democratisation of our society’s wealth a priority running through NUS’s work.
    2. To make the case for free education and demand that free, accessible, quality education, and decent wages, public services and benefits, are funded by:
    a. Ending tax evasion and avoidance and cracking down on tax havens
    b. Imposing serious taxes on the incomes, inheritance and capital gains of the rich
    c. Taking the banks, and their wealth, under democratic control
    3. To raise these demands in particular when putting forward positions on fees and education funding, and when organising protest actions.
    4. To oppose and campaign against all methods of charging students for education – including tuition fees and a ‘graduate tax’ which is nothing more than a euphemism for ‘student debt’.
    5. Foundation courses should be free of fees for all students, regardless of age or nationality, with full access to a grant.

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