How to afford to come to the national demo: a guide for activists

coaches-203x300Getting students to travel to London for a national demo can seem like a daunting task, especially financially. But it is entirely possible to do it on the cheap, or even at no cost, if you’re organised and get enough people involved. Here are a few tips, gathered from experience by NCAFC over the past few years.

1. Be coach and transport savvy

Coaches can cost quite a lot, and for many groups and unions this will be the main barrier to coming down. But there are ways to keep costs to a bare minimum: here are a few of the most useful.

  • Remember that you can recoup the costs of hiring a coach after the event, so although coaches always seem expensive, they can be quite affordable as long as you sell the tickets rather than give them away, and fill the coach. There will always be enough activists in your local area, and we will help you find them.
  • Sometimes it’s cheaper to book private transport, especially megabus tickets, and then resell them, as long as you do it well in advance. So check the availability and price of them now!
  • Book chartered coaches as early in advance as you can.
  • Start selling tickets now! Selling tickets helps you get the funds back – but it also ties students in. People are more likely to come and bring their mates if they have parted with money. Keep proper lists of everyone who has booked.

2. Fundraise

Fundraising can be an effortless and easy way to afford the journey down.  There are three basic things that you can do:

  •  Set up an online fundraiser like GoFundMe.
  • Ask around all of your local trade union branches, asking them for help with cash. Some branches have a lot of money – some have tens of thousands – and will be more than happy to fund students defending education.
  •  Ask local academics and community figures for money. Many academics, who will be unable to attend themselves, will be happy to chip in. Many students got down to last year’s demos by running a “sponsor me to go to London” campaign. Go to other trade union meetings (for instance fire stations) and ask for a whip-round.
  • Do the usual fundraising events: bake sales, gigs and bucket shaking

 3. Ask students who can to pay for their own transport

It’s not ideal to ask students to fund the whole journey themselves, but it’s not immoral either, especially if you can’t do it. Ask students to book asap. But students are more likely to book if you make it easy for them: it’s ideal to advertise the tickets, advertise the times of transport and the website to book on, in the SU or over email or facebook. Make it as convenient and straightforward as possible, and advertise this.

  •  Send out a mass email telling students to book transport now, if they can, before tickets get too expensive.

Leaked Documents Reveal Unprecedented Slashing of SOAS Courses

Bsoasy Adam Barr, SOAS student and activist

In a depressing yet unsurprising development leaked documents have revealed that senior management have drawn up plans to slash 184 so called ‘red-rated’ courses in a move that will astonishingly cut over a quarter undergraduate courses in the arts and humanities department, just under a third of undergraduate courses in the languages and culture department and up to forty three percent of courses in art and archaeology. First year courses in Art History have been completely wiped out.

The fact that this has been planned since February and has only come to light due to leaks shows SOAS management knew these plans would generate outrage and had planned to wait to the last opportunity to reveal this and give lecturers and students the least amount of time to organise against this. The whole process is so farcical you cry but you’re too busy laughing. To rate courses as ‘red’ the school employed a bankrupt methodology designed to give the school the result it wanted. Senior management have also clearly took advantage of the inexperience of the new director Valerie Amos to get her to approve the cuts. The farce extends to the courses chosen for cuts. Yoruba 1 has been deemed worthy for the axe yet Yoruba 2, 3, 4 have survived. Again Arabic 4 has been withdrawn yet 1, 2, 3 remain.

These cuts not only mean students missing out and also the reputation of SOAS taking a nosedive but also is going to mean job cuts, something that the UCU branch is particularly angry about. These cuts have been pushed through with no consultation, no notice and are going to attract heavy opposition, from trade unionists and student activists but also from apolitical lecturers and students alike. The fight will be a hard one but it is eminently winnable if staff and students both from inside and outside SOAS come together to protect courses and jobs. Keep an eye out for upcoming news on meetings, protests and petitions. It’s going to take every effort to fight these cuts.

SOAS students should come to the Union General Meeting Thursday 8th October at 5pm.

Join the #StudentsnotSuspects speaker tour in your city

studentsnotsupectsOctober 14th: London – King’s C, London
October 15th: Midlands – Birmingham Uni
October 16th: Wales - Swansea University
October 21st: North – Manchester Met Uni
October 23rd: Scotland: Strathclyde Uni

State repression and violence is fuelling racism and resulting in deaths on the streets. The impact of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act is normalising Islamophobia and forcing public servants to act as informants. Students taking action are threatened with dismissal, arrest and huge court costs.

How can we counter this growing surveillance culture, the presence of police on our campuses and racism and repression in our communities?

This event is for anyone interested in resisting the impact of the Prevent duty, the curbing of our right to protest, police violence and deaths in custody. The speeches and workshops aim to equip students and activists with the knowledge and networks to take these campaigns on locally.

Organised by the NUS Black Students Campaign, Defend the Right to Protest, Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) and the University and College Union (UCU).

Open to all. Free to attend. Register here to confirm your place.

#NotFairNotSafe: Doctors and medical students take to the streets


This report by medical student Ellie R of Monday’s demo to protest against proposed junior doctor’s contracts was first posted on the blog of RS21.

If one were to rank professions in order of likelihood of taking to the streets demanding more power for their unions, doctors probably wouldn’t come terribly far up the list. There are many reasons for this before we even consider long hours and apathy fuelled by low morale, but this week something changed. The 5000-strong crowd that gathered outside Methodist Hall in London included doctors, students and members of the public united by the need to express dismay at the new contract arrangements that have been proposed for junior doctors, which will apparently be enforced from August 2016.

The demo was organised by a group of doctors and medical students to target a meeting being held by the NHS Employers organisation in an attempt to directly undermine the doctors’ union the BMA. Having been so deaf to the concerns and recommendations of the BMA that they walked away from the negotiating table, NHSE launched an England-wide roadshow to “hear junior doctors’ views” on the proposed contracts (the changes have been rejected by the Scottish and Welsh governments and it is unclear how the NHS in Northern Ireland will act).

As the protest plans took root on social media, NHSE responded by upping the capacity of the meeting and offering bland placations that our views would be carefully listened to. On Monday, however, they seemed to become overwhelmed by the number of people planning to stand up and be counted: they cancelled the meeting (and all subsequent events) with a few hours to spare and released a statement announcing that Jeremy Hunt had invited the BMA Junior Doctors’ Committee, now headed up by the impressive Johann Malawana, back to the table.

Although this move answered one of our demands and the cancellation left us without a direct target, the demo went ahead anyway. More people turned up than anyone could have predicted and despite the anger expressed by all the atmosphere was festive, with songs, incredible placards and a rainbow of coloured scrub suits. I don’t doubt that there were many different pathways to abject mistrust of the way our government is handling the NHS but the crowd at the Save Our Contracts demonstration seemed united in the viewpoint that the lack of consideration for safety and fairness in the outlined proposals amounts to a final straw. Something has to give, and it won’t be patient welfare, doctors’ wellbeing or our beloved healthcare system if we have any say on the matter.

I won’t easily forget how it felt to stand in the middle of Whitehall, facing off against the Department of Health surrounded by thousands of people singing “Where are you Jeremy?” The building was strangely dark considering it that was 7.30pm, well inside of the “social” working hours suggested to be reasonable by the NHSE (7am-10pm Monday to Saturday). I hope the BMA can use the mandate we have handed them to get us a fair deal that will ensure safety for all. Failing that, we’ll see them on the picket lines.

These Activists Gave Out Some Leaflets, You Won’t Believe What Happened Next…

In just under six weeks we’ll be marching through the streets of London to demand free education and living grants for all – and that means turning around those maintenance grant cuts too. To do this, we need your help…

We don’t want to be alone on November 4…








…we need to reinvigorate a mass movement which can win demands on the government.

bis demo pic 3





And to do that, we need to build the demo everywhere. Are you ready?!


















1) Pass the model SU motion through your first General Meeting, Council or Exec so your Union will send us some coaches!








2) Many hands make light work – talk to  activist groups on your campus and in your local area and build it together – if you aren’t sure where they are, email [email protected] and we can try and put you in touch!







3) Speak to staff in trade unions on your campus and ask them to pass the motion, which includes asking them to donate to fund the demo and the wider free education campaign.








4) Tell lots of people about the demo! You could…







…do lecture shout-outs…








…or go door-knocking in halls…











…or get people to tell us why they’re marching!









5) Get crafty!








Make banners…








…or placards…








…or even some barricades!








6) Cover your campus in propaganda! This could include banners, posters, chalking* and LOTS of flyers! (*make sure the building isn’t listed. You can get in a bit of trouble for that…!)






7) Create a buzz around the demo on your social media streams: share the Facebook event and invite ALL your friends and add to the conversation on #GrantsNotDebt!








CONGRATULATIONS! You are now a superstar demo-mobiliser!

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Model SU Motion

Model Students’ Union Motion

Fighting for Free Education

This SU notes

1. The crisis of poverty, debt and lack of future, which faces students who graduate today.
2. That NUS conference 2015 voted to campaign for free education, the creation of jobs with a living wage and security, an end to cuts and rebuilding public services ­ funded by taxing the rich, business and the banks.
3. That a coalition of student unions and student campaigns, supported by NUS, are organising a national demonstration on 4 November under the slogan “Free education and Living Grants for all: No Barriers, No Borders, No Business”

This SU believes

1. Immediately after the General Election, there are clear opportunities to make substantial gains for students, if we put out a clear message and mobilise a movement
2. That we should campaign for the same demands as NUS: free education and living grants for all to end student debt, and decent jobs on a living wage and with job security for all.

This SU resolves

1. To campaign on these themes over the next year with the slogans “Fund free education and living grants for all ­ tax the rich” and “Fund decent jobs for all ­ tax the rich”.
2. To support the national student demonstration on November 4, donate £… and mobilise students for it.
3. To mobilise students for the student bloc on the Open Dover, Open Europe demonstration on October 17th.
4. To also emphasise how cuts, unemployment and debt hit the most oppressed hardest, and the liberation aspect of these policies.

Model trade union motion

Motion to Trade Unions

● This branch believes that education is a right, not a privilege; that education is a social good, which

should be paid for by society, by means of taxing the rich and big business.

● This branch further believes that the current Higher Education funding system, based on fees and

loans and an attempt to create a market in education, has failed, and only done harm to education.

● This branch further believes that this drive to a marketised and consumerised model of education is

fuelling attacks on our members’ pay, workloads, working conditions and job security.

● This branch believes that the demand for free education and living grants for all, funded by taxing

the rich and big business, should be put on the political agenda in the aftermath of the 2015 General


● This branch notes the work of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) in

campaigning for the principle of free education, including changing the position of the National

Union of Students to supporting the demand.

● This branch notes that the NCAFC is centrally involved in organising a national demonstration on 4

November, for free education and living grants for all, funded by taxing the rich.

● This branch notes the wider work of the NCAFC, including its key role in building student solidarity

for our own struggles, such as the past year’s pay campaign.

● This branch resolves to support and participate in the free education and living grants demonstration

on 4 November.

● This branch resolves to assist the NCAFC in this campaign in the runup

to 2015 by making a

donation of £___.


What the changes to junior doctor contracts will really mean

medstudentsBy Joanna Sutton-Klein

The proposals in the DDRB report regarding junior doctors contracts are awful. It is clear, to anyone who has their wits about them, that they are just one step in the not so slow path to the destruction of the NHS. I do not, for one second, think the government is ignorant of the fact that these proposals will force doctors to move abroad or work privately. They will also not be impervious to the obvious, and serious implications to patient safety and quality of healthcare. To anyone who has spent even one afternoon shadowing a junior doctor, it is evident that they cannot be worked any harder. The NHS is at breaking point, and these proposals are going to break it.

Yet the government is pushing ahead. Why? Can they not hear the loud and eloquent concerns voiced by junior doctors? Of course they can, and it’s music to their ears. It’s not that they don’t believe that the NHS is going to fail, it’s that they want the NHS to fail. Lowering working conditions and reducing pay will inevitably reduce the quality of care in the NHS; more and more patients will choose to seek private healthcare which will become cheaper and more mainstream as the taboo for doing private practice slowly drops away. Before long, the NHS, will be providing sub-standard healthcare and only be used by the working classes. Even more reason for the government to plough through with the new contract.

But why are we surprised? They are Tories, this is what Tories do. Perhaps the ‘fairy tales’ of Thatcherite rule are now too distant and too dystopian for people to believe. Cameron looks set to be far, far worse than Thatcher, yet around the country, people still lap up his misconstrued, rose-tinted truth. Jeremy Hunt proclaimed his devotion to the NHS, and people believed it, and voted him in. Hunt wrote a whole book idealising the destruction of the NHS, yet his authority to be health minister is left unquestioned in the mainstream media.

 I’m not surprised by the proposals. The published evidence for the report reads like a textbook of Tory economic policy. This is textbook Conservatism to the line; it’s awful, but not any more noteworthy than the rest of their policies.

What we should be more concerned about, are their attempts at destroying the union. The BMA, the trade union for doctors, is a democratic body. They held multiple talks, webchats and surveys to find out what its members wanted them to do about the contract proposals. The answer was astoundingly clear. 99% of doctors think the proposals are unacceptable. With this huge mandate, the BMA, did the right thing, and stood up for us. It told the government exactly what we think, and set out the very bottom line that the government must agree to  before any negotiations could begin. The government walked away, not the BMA.

 The government walked away, then came charging back. It slated the BMA for ‘letting down its’ members’. It proclaimed that regardless of what the BMA did, it would ‘impose’ these contracts on us anyway. NHS Employers, a branch of the government, believes it can bypass the BMA by holding talks directly with junior doctors. They believe it will be easier to push the proposals through by talking directly to us, rather than the BMA.

 And they’re absolutely right.

These meetings will weaken us. They’ll break us up. NHS Employers are avoiding the union for a reason, and that’s because the union makes us strong. If they succeed in imposing the proposals, they will have killed 2 birds with one stone. Not only will the NHS be one step closer to it’s grave, much more significantly, they will have successfully overpowered and undermined a trade union. That’s a hugely worrying prospect. This is a test, a test to see if trampling on a union will work, and we need to make sure it doesn’t. They’re testing a small union, a union whose members don’t have tons of experience in protest or activism. A union who represents an occupation where industrial action is dangerous.

 All doctors and medical students must stand behind the BMA. Together, we are the BMA, and together, under the BMA’s umbrella, we stand a chance of fighting the proposals. Talk about unions. Talk about the victories they’ve won in the past. Join unions, join demonstrations, join picket lines, join together and we might just stand a chance.

There is also a petition calling for students to go on strike against the proposals which you can sign here and a general parliament petition in which you can show your support, here.


“Nyt Saa Riittää!” (“Enough is Enough!”): Student Strike and Occupation in Helsinki #Yliopistovaltaus



-Biggest Finnish demonstrations in decades as austerity increases

-30,000 striking workers demonstrated in one of Helsinki’s main squares on Friday

-Longest university occupation in Finnish history currently ongoing at Helsinki University, looks like it

could spread

-National educational strike being planned at the moment in general assemblies attracting 200-300


By Guin Carter

The longest university occupation in Finnish history is currently ongoing, and has been since the

massive strike on Friday 18th September that saw 30,000 workers take to the streets despite rain, in

the largest demonstration seen in decades. The demonstration was arranged in opposition to the

government’s decision to impose austerity policies upon workers, such as cutting holidays, sick pay,

and overtime pay. Despite promising in the run up to the recent elections not to cut education and

research spending, the Finnish centre-right government have now also announced cuts that will

result in thousands of university staff losing their jobs and an increased reliance on corporate

funding by universities. These educational changes mean free education will be put at risk, research

will suffer, and universities will face restrictions on their intellectual freedom.


The occupation has attracted over 300 students, staff, and members of the public to open general

assemblies, which constitute some of the biggest activist meetings ever seen in Finnish higher

education. The two central ideas to the occupation are the resistance to education cuts and

austerity politics in general, and a demanding of a directly democratic education system. A new

social movement is taking shape in resistance to the neoliberal erosion of the Nordic welfare state.


The occupiers and sympathisers are currently planning a cross-campus national educational strike

that would involve as many educational institutions and students as possible. In the occupation’s

statement it cites that the current student protests are “part of an international university

movement that opposes austerity politics and the shift towards market oriented education”. This

current backlash against neoliberalism in education is part of a global trend from Chile to Canada,

and indeed the Finnish plans for a student strike come at a time when the UK is also planning such

an action.


There is a strong chance that the occupation will spread into other campuses, Aalto University are

rumoured to soon be setting up their own. Several unions have also declared their support for the

direct action, including The Finnish Union of University Professors. The fight to defend Finnish public

goods and the social safety net in the face of ideological attacks by the government can only

increase – watch this space.

No Business in our Universities: Occupy Your University Careers Fair!

careersfairPeople and Planet and the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts are calling on students to occupy their careers fairs to protest the influence of big businesses in our universities.

Most universities host fossil fuel companies and arms traders at their careers fairs. In the past, companies such as Shell, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Rolls Royce and others have had stalls at university careers fairs. Typically stalls are either auctioned off to the highest bidder, or they are priced so highly that only the wealthiest organisations can afford one. This is just one example of how universities value profit more than social justice.

We say that profit has no business in our universities!

In their quest for profit, fossil fuel companies have wrought destruction upon the planet. They have driven indigenous communities from their land, and have murdered people and destroyed communities in the global south. Companies involved in the arms trade have been complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, in the imperialist invasion of Iraq, and we must question the role they may have played in repressing dissent during the Arab Spring and other uprisings worldwide.

NCAFC Black has written a statement on the atrocities perpetrated by fossil fuel companies and arms traders. Click here to read it.

Let us be clear: these atrocities are not caused by “unethical” corporations. They are not accidents and they are not out of the ordinary. They are part and parcel of our economic system, which encourages us to accumulate wealth above all else. They do not see the humanity in the lives they are destroying, because all they can see is a profitable venture. Governments do nothing to stop them because they too are governed by the logic of profit.

Our universities are increasingly governed by the same logic. Over the past few years our education system and business have become closer and closer, to the point where the Browne Review, which recommended lifting the cap on tuition fees, was chaired by the former chief executive of BP, the oil and gas company. Stalls at careers fairs are auctioned off to the highest bidder. Corporations get access to students thanks to their great wealth and political influence. Big businesses fund new university buildings, research and modules, not out of the kindness of their hearts, but as part of their drive for more and more wealth. In return they get control over what is researched, they often get a place on university councils, and even get a say in what is taught.

We absolutely reject the influence of big business. Education should serve the needs of humanity, not the needs of business. Join the fight against business in our universities! Here’s what you can do:

  • Find out when your university’s careers fair is
  • Get a group of activists together. Get in contact with your local free education campaign or People and Planet group
  • Get in touch with NCAFC to let us know what you’re doing (email us on [email protected])
  • Occupy your careers fair!
  • Join our demonstration on November 4thFree Education and Living Grants for All: No Barriers, No Borders, No Business!