FREE EDUCATION BLOC: march with us at the TUC demo

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Since the introduction of fees students are having to work harder to fund their studies, from long nights in a bar before early morning lectures, to Saturdays and afternoons in a shop to make up for the destruction of EMA, the freezing of maintenance loans and sky-rocketing masters’ fees.

This does not stop in postgraduate education; postgrad teaching assistants are exploited on precarious, low wage contracts and stipends for research have been cut on real terms just as salaries have. Women and migrant workers bear the brunt of this, with a sexist gender pay gap and racist discrimination rife in the workplace.

There is vast wealth in our society, but we who produce it see very little of it.
We demand:
• Taxation of the rich to fund education and decent jobs for all.
•An equal living wage for every worker, regardless of age, including apprentices and interns.
We must:
•Join trade unions and agitate for uncompromising industrial action for better pay and conditions.
•Organise in our workplaces, communities and campuses.
Use protest and direct action to win free and funded education which is accessible to all.

Meet under the red Free Education Now banner, Blackfriars, 10.30.

Statement by Roza Salih, writer of the motion on ‘Iraqi/Kurdish solidarity’

This is a statement by Roza Salih, NUS Scotland International Students Officer, and the writer of the motion ‘Iraqi/Kurdish solidarity’ that was proposed to NUS national committee, and which passed at NUS Scotland executive. The motion passed by NUS Scotland is below. You can view the NUS NEC motion here.

The recent attacks on the NUS from right-wing extremists is disgusting and must be opposed, I will be happy to work Malia and the NUS Executive Council to promote the issue of ISIS brutally attacking Kurdistan – and I am happy that this will be coming to the next NUS NEC with broad support. But I feel the need to address some comments made about my motion and its supposed islamaphobia.

As Vice President of Diversity and Advocacy at the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association and NUS Scotland’s International Students Officer, I proposed a motion to stand in solidarity with the Kurdish people. Whilst I am happy to write a new motion, I am disappointed that many people have said that the motion was written by ‘some student who made a mistake’, and it has been suggested that we’ll be working with them to make the motion ‘less islamaphobic’.

As my job titles and record show, I work on liberation and it is my priority, nobody has shown me what specifically in the motion is islamaphobic, and I feel that it is unfair to tag that to my name. I come from a Kurdish Muslim background and the motion that was submitted was for NUS to speak out in defence of my people – as they are brutally murdered by agents of the “Islamic State”. What the Islamic State is doing is wrong, and I look forward to our national student movement coming together through the politics to support these people fighting for survival.

The Scottish Executive Committee Notes:
1.The on-going humanitarian crisis and sectarian polarisation in Iraq – which has resulted to thousands of Yazidi Kurds been massacred.

The Scottish Executive Committee Believes:
1.That Iraqi citizens have suffered for years under the sectarian dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and in the US/UK invasion and occupation of Iraq.
2.That rape and other forms of sexual violence are being used as weapons against Women in IS occupied areas against minorities to ethnically cleanse.

The Scottish Executive Committee Resolves:
1.To work with the International Students’ Campaign to support Iraqi students in the UK.
2.To campaign in solidarity with the Iraqi people and in particular support the hard-pressed student, workers’ and women’s organisations against all the competing nationalist and religious-right forces.
3.To support Iraqis trying to bridge the Sunni-Shia divide to fight for equality and democracy, including defence of the rights of the Christian and Yazidi-Kurd minorities.
4.To condemn the “IS” and support the Kurdish forces fighting against it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military intervention.
5.Encourage students to boycott anyone found to be funding ISIS or supplying them with goods, training, travel or soldiers.
6.To meet with Iraqi and Kurdish organisations, in Iraq and here in the United Kingdom, in order to build solidarity and to support refugees.
7.To issue a statement on this basis.

Defend Malia Bouattia – a statement from the NCAFC national committee

This is a statement from the NCAFC national committee.

A recent motion entitled “Iraqi/Kurdish solidarity” (which can be viewed in full here) was debated and consequently voted down at the second NUS NEC meeting of this academic year. The motion was written jointly by Roza Salih, an Iraqi Kurdish independent (who sits on the NUS Scottish Executive Committee, where a very similar motion has since been passed), and activists in the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. Because NUS NEC motions can only be put formally by members of the NEC, it was proposed by NUS NEC and AWL member Daniel Cooper, and seconded by International Students’ Officer Shreya Paudel and Young Greens co-Chair Clifford Fleming.

Shreya Paudel spoke in favour of the motion, and the speech in opposition was given by the NUS Black Students’ Officer, Malia Bouattia. The motion was voted down.

Since then, the right-wing media, as well as and right-wing and fascist individuals, have launched viciously abusive, anti-Muslim, racist and sexist attacks on Malia Bouattia. These attacks are vile and we condemn them unconditionally. Leftists and student activists should defend Bouattia and other targets of racism against bigotry, whether or not they have political disagreements. Some attacks also grossly misrepresented Bouattia’s politics to claim that she supports ISIS, and this is a disgrace. The attacks are reflective of much wider racism in our society against Black and Muslim people, and we stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight against racism and fascism.

NCAFC’s representatives have not and will not respond to media requests for comments on the matter other than to restate this condemnation. We ask our members to do the same.

The NCAFC has not taken a formal position on the text of the motion. We published a report of the NEC meeting by Daniel Cooper, which included political criticism of the opposition to this motion, which was clearly labelled as an individual perspective. We routinely host reports of meetings and events on our website, and believe it is right and important to do so. Equally, we believe it is vital to offer a right of response, which Bouattia exercised.

This report and its author have been criticised as intentionally inviting the abusive and bigoted attacks on Bouattia. We did not and do not believe that Cooper’s article intended to invite such abuse – we would not have published it otherwise. There remain a variety of views among members of NCAFC and its national committee about the motion and report, and we welcome debate on the issues they contain.

We will continue to oppose the press outlets and individuals responsible for racist attacks. The abusive, islamophobic and racist attacks from the right-wing press and individuals on social media sites toward the NUS Black Students’ Officer cannot be tolerated. When people in our movement come under these kind of attacks, we should close ranks.

ONE MONTH TO GO: London-wide organising meeting for the national demo

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7-8pm Thursday 16 October
Ben Pimlott Building Lecture Theatre (the squiggly arts building!), Goldsmiths University
Click here for Facebook event

It is now just ONE MONTH until we march for free education. Mobilisation is going well across the country, but a large proportion of the turnout will have to come from London. That means that Londoners need to take responsibility and get the turnout out – and to do that, we need to co-ordinate.

On the agenda will be:
– linking up FE and HE in London: working with school students
– what we’re doing about the TUC demo
– what we’re doing for strikes
– sharing resources
– co-ordinating direct action

A response to a report of NUS NEC: ‘solidarity with the Kurds’

This is a response to NCAFC member Daniel Cooper’s report of NUS NEC.

The NUS Black Students’ Campaign stands in support of Black communities across the globe and uncompromisingly against imperialism and Western interference which history shows all too often leads to the suffering of Black people.

We stand in complete solidarity with the Kurdish people against the recent attacks by ISIS and join many others in condemnation of their brutal actions. In doing so we recognise that condemnation of ISIS appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamaphobia. This rhetoric exacerbates the issue at hand and in essence is a further attack on those we aim to defend.

The NUS Black Students’ Campaign will be working with Kurdish students and the International Students Campaign to raise this issue within the NUS. A motion will be taken to the next NUS National Executive which truly reflects the situation. This motion will pose a condemnation of the politics and methods of ISIS as well as unequivocal support for the Kurdish people. It will in no way pander to Western imperialistic intervention or the demonisation of Muslim peoples.

Malia Bouattia, NUS Black Students’ Officer

Zekarias Negussue, NUS Black Students’ Campaign NEC Representative

Aaron Kiely, NUS NEC

Zarah Sultana, NUS NEC

Abdi Suleiman, NUS NEC

 

FE and school mobilising day: London

5204402762_e489693def_z[1]For the facebook event click here. Time: 11am to 5pm, 1st November 2014.  Place: London College of Communication (Elephant & Castle)

This meeting is co-hosted by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and Unite the Youth

On Saturday 1st of November, school, college and university students from all over London will be coming together to plan the campaign for free education.

We will talk about the issues that affect us, and plan for the national demonstration and walkout on November 19th. There will be workshops, how-tos and discussions about current issues. Snacks will be provided.

What is free education?
We are being attacked by the government. We have lost our EMA, we’ve seen tuition fees triple and we’ve had our services cut. We face a future of unemployment, and we’re demonised by politicians and the media. Our colleges and universities are becoming profit-driven corporations.

We are told there is no money to pay for a free, public education system – or for decent jobs, or rebuilding the NHS. But the money is there, in the soaring profits of businesses and the wealth of the rich. It should be taxed and used for the benefit of everyone. Free education for all!

 Whey we are marching
Politicians won’t give us a future if we just ask nicely for it. We have to mobilise and organise collectively: we have to take to the streets and take action. That is the only way that ordinary people have ever won anything.

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NCAFC is already leafleting at schools and colleges in London, and we have produced a special leaflet. To get some leaflets for colleges and schools in your area, or if you have any questions, email [email protected] or call 07749263622

How to afford to come to the national demo: a guide for activist groups and students’ unions

coaches

Getting 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:

  •  Ask around all of your local trade union branches, asking them for help with cash. Some branches have a lot of money – for instance, York UCU have £40,000 in the bank – 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.

Occupy, Strike, Resist on your campus: 27/10 to 7/11

555092_10152064893696421_396765117_nThe National Campaign against Fees and Cuts is calling for students all over the country to take action on their campus between the 27th of October and 4th of November to demand “Free, just and democratic education”.

This follows decisions made at a series of democratic meetings during the past academic year. In January, 200 student activists met in Birmingham and democratically produced eight demands geared toward fighting for free education – funded by taxing the rich. In June, activists organised a meeting to coordinate that fight. It called for a wave of direct actions on campuses, under the banner of the demands voted for in Birmingham. The fortnight of action will precede the national demonstration for Free Education happening on the 19th of November in London.

We want you to get involved. You could:

  • meet up and organise with students on your campus
  • organise occupations, walkouts, blockades, demonstrations, rallies and open meetings during the fortnight of action
  • get in contact with us if you require any support and let us know if you are planning an action on your campus

The demands that were agreed at the Birmingham meeting on January 29th are as follows:

Free, just, and democratic education

  1. Education should be free with living grants for all. We demand that universities lobby for this, and that they should increase bursaries and pay them only in cash. We also demand that the government re-introduce EMA.
    2. We demand that the student loan book should not be privatised, and ultimately that student debt should be written off.
    3. We demand just pay and conditions for staff: a 5:1 pay ratio between highest and lowest paid staff. An end to casualised contracts, that universities should lobby the UCEA to accept staff union pay demands, no outsourcing of services, a living wage, and an end to the gender pay gap.
    4. We demand an end to the intimidation and victimisation of students: no disciplinaries for protest, cops off campus unless invited by students and management, no co-operation with migration enforcement and ejection of their officials from campus, no-cooperation with spying programmes such as prevent.
    5. Directly democratic education with all decisions made by, or accountable to, staff and students.
    6. We demand education for the public good: for financial transparency and accountability, against the influence of profit in education and research, against league tables, and for ethical investment and procurement.
    7. We demand that halls should be provided for the service not for profit, and should be provided in house.
    8. We demand equality, and an end to discrimination, in education.

 

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New Labour proposals for higher education ‘feeble and reactionary’. We’ll fight for free education

Students protest in 2004, when the Labour government increased fees to £3000

Students protest in 2004, when the Labour government increased fees to £3000

For press contact, call 07900482427,  07964791663, 07821731481 or 07929317220

Student campaigners across the country have  condemned proposals from Labour to give big business a greater role in higher and further education, and to means test youth benefits. NCAFC and other organisations are planning a national demonstration for free education on November 19th, proposing a real positive alternative to fees and privatisation.

Liam Byrne, the Shadow Minister for Universities, recently released a pamphlet outlining Labour’s current thinking on the future of higher education. ‘Robins Rebooted’, which can be viewed here, pitches itself as an attempt to move forward the debate on HE funding and to transform the face of higher and further education.

In practice, the report focuses almost entirely on linking a new system of business-run vocational education with an attempt to use the benefits system to force young people into training and education.

Its proposals for vocational education and access include:

  • The creation of ‘Technical Degrees’ – courses run jointly by institutions and business, putting “entrepreneurs” and big business in charge of bits of the curriculum
  • Creating a large number of apprenticeships
  • An ‘earn while you learn’ rationale, solving student poverty by making students work, not by increasing state support
  • Hinting that post-graduate education is unaffordable and may have to change
  • Dismissing concerns that MOOCS may undermine or jeopardize teaching quality or jobs.

This is paired with a new benefits regime which:

  • Makes education and training compulsory in English and Maths until the age of 18
  • Abolishes Jobseekers Allowance until the age of 21
  • Replaces pre-21 Jobseekers Allowance with a ‘youth allowance’, which will be means-tested against your parents’ income

Hannah Sketchley, NCAFC national committee and UCL Union Democracy and Communications Officer, said: “These proposals are by and large feeble and reactionary. After years of privatisation and attacks on access and bursaries, the last thing we need is a Labour policy that pointedly evades any commitment to reversing any of it, and which in fact gives business more power in the sector.”

Rachel O’Brien, from Defend Education Birmingham and NCAFC, said “A lot of the proposals are even worse than the status quo: they’re an attack on young people’s right to basic benefits, hitting the victims of Tory policy with yet more poverty and sanctions. Labour’s vision for a “high skill economy” will make us dependent on our parents until we’re 21 – that’s not progress.”

Kirsty Haigh, NUS Scotland Vice President  and NCAFC said: “Byrne is offering us a technocratic insider policy when what we need is an ideological alternative to what the Coalition are doing. If Labour offers piecemeal reform when the Tories have spent years installing an ideologically-driven vision of a privatised system, the Tories will get to define higher education for a generation.”

NCAFC has been fighting for a real positive alternative to fees and privatisation for almost five years: for free, democratic and accessible education funded by taxation of the rich and big business. Join the national demo for free education on November 19th.

Early day motion in Parliament: ‘tuition fees and the funding of education’

portcullis1Ahead of an autumn of action and mobilisation, we have managed to get an Early Day Motion put down in parliament. Early Day Motion 294 is up and running, and is available here.

Get your MP to sign it!

It reads:

That this House notes the introduction and rapid increase in tuition fees in further and higher education since 1998 and acknowledges with concern the findings of the Third Report of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee session 2014-15, on Student Loans; further notes that tuition fees and associated marketisation have decisively failed to create a sustainable funding system for universities; further notes that, in order to fund tution fees, the Government can now expect to loan in excess of £10 billion per year, much of which it will never recover; further notes the extreme negative impact of fees and privatisation on the stability of universities and colleges, access to education, student poverty and the conditions of academic and other staff; further notes that the number of people studying part-time has dropped by 40 per cent since the tripling of home undergraduate tuition fees in 2010; further notes that tuition fees no longer exist in Germany; believes that the choice being presented to the public, between an inaccessible and debt-driven market and a free system open only to a social elite, is no choice at all; believes further that progressive taxation is the only fair and workable way to fund education; supports the conclusions of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee’s report that an overhaul of the system is needed; calls for an urgent review of education funding led by those who work and study in education; and further calls for the abolition of all tuition fees in further and higher education.