Free Education & Living Grants for all: No Barriers // No Borders // No Business

London, UK. 19th Nov, 2014. Students march through central London to demand that politicians scrap tuition fees. The demonstration was organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) and the Student Assembly Against Austerity with StudentNCAFC has called a National Demonstration that will march in London on 4 November (join the Facebook event) under the slogan “Free Education & Living Grants for all: No Barriers // No Borders // No Business”! Here’s why:

Free education means more than just the abolition of fees. It is a vision of a different education system and ultimately a different society. This is what we want to win.

No Barriers

Nobody should be denied an education at any level. This certainly means removing financial barriers but also ensuring that every student receives appropriate support. Education should no longer be a commodity for individual consumption: it should be a social good.  It should not be funded by placing an immense debt burden on students. Our goal is education to be funded by taxing the rich, to directly attack inequality that our society’s structure fosters.

  • Living grants for all

No student should have to live in poverty whilst doing their course. The student loan system, and its incompetence, means that many students struggle to meet the costs of living, and some even have to use food banks. University management have frequently cut bursaries and grants available to poorer students, on the grounds that ‘there is no money’ (except money for the bosses’ salaries apparently). We want living grants available at all levels of education for everyone. This includes extra grants for students with other needs, for example a universalised childcare grant and a grant for disabled students’, as well as an end to other disability benefit cuts. This is the only way to ensure that everyone has the means to access education.

  • Tax the Rich

In the UK, the poorest pay a higher share of their income in tax than the richest. The top rate of tax has decreased from 50% to 45%. The rich are not rich as a result of their own efforts, rather as a result of the labour of society. Their wealth rightfully belongs to us and we will not hesitate in taking it in order to fund the services people are dependent on, to access education and, necessarily, to live.

  • Expropriate the banks!

Banks are not neutral institutions. Currently they serve the interests of finance capital alone and benefit only the very richest. We want to place them under genuine public ownership and use the wealth they store in order invest in society as a whole, including in education that is currently underfunded.

No Borders

Our vision for education excludes no one. Nationality is no excuse to bar someone from the right to seek education. We want the abolition of all punitive laws that harm international students currently and open up all our institutions to everyone.

  • Education for all!

When we say free education, we mean for everyone. International student fees should be abolished, rather than these students being treated as cash cows by management. We want an immediate end to immigration policy which punishes international students for seeking education in the UK, including humiliating sign-ins and checks.

  • End to deportations

Deportations are an act of violence that cannot be justified. The government frequently deports people to situations which are life-threatening. This government has deported students such as Yashika Bageerathi and Majid Ali, the latter of whom is now feared dead. We demand an immediate end to all deportations.

  • End to detention centres

To confine people fleeing the horrors of war and atrocities in appalling conditions is barbarism.  Detention centres are prisons, they destroy people’s physical and mental health and are places where women experience sexual violence. Our objective is to shut down all detention centres and give all asylum seekers the opportunity to access education.

No Business

We utterly reject the exploitation inherent in education as a business. We stand in solidarity with all workers who are facing pay cuts and insecurity whilst university Vice Chancellors rake in ever higher salaries.  We reject universities spending thousands on rebranding whilst student services are removed. Our aim is to make education a social endeavour as opposed to a corporate one. We do this not on the assumption that education alone should be a social good, but rather to integrate our struggles with all workers’ struggles in society: to transform it.

 

  • Democratise our universities and colleges!

Education is currently a weapon of subjugation. We aim to make it our weapon for liberation. Our universities and colleges should be shaped by collective participation and not controlled by an unaccountable management. Workers and students should decide not only the content of the curriculum but also the structure of the university. This means an immediate end to the National Student Survey, which pits students and staff against each other, and a move towards more collaborative forms of feedback.

  • Living wage (at a minimum) for all who work for our institutions

Over half of universities don’t pay a living wage to workers. This is whilst some Vice Chancellors have salaries over £400k. The lack of living wage ties into the increasing casualisation of the workforce. 46% of universities and 60% of colleges use zero hours contracts. We want that to be 0%. Zero hours contracts are an attack on the rights of workers. They demand that a worker be available at any time for the needs of the boss, without guaranteeing even a minimum of hours needed in order to meet the costs of living.

We reject the dictum that ‘there is no money’, we want an immediate end to the abhorrent exploitation of all workers in our institutions

  • Cops off campus

Cops are not protectors of peace, they are bearers of violence. Cops exist to serve the interests of private property, not people. They are not on our side. They have a record of violently repressing protest.  In December 2014 police used CS spray on Warwick protestors. Chile has already achieved a cops off campus policy. Control of our spaces, and police presence in them, should be in the hands of students and staff, not the management. We demand every cop out of our institutions.

 

If you agree, build a movement with us, organise on your campus and in your community, and join the demo on 4 November!

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