MAY DAY at the University of London

1509247_1388010898145585_7572563998002243351_nNCAFC is supporting the mobilisation at the University of London for May Day this year. Join the facebook event, and spread the word.

We are collecting signatures for a public letter in support of the demonstration (below). Send yours to [email protected]

On 1st May, international workers’ day will remind the world of the continuing struggle for justice in the face of systemic attacks on workers, our communities and the services we rely on.

The University of London has been at the heart of this struggle: bad pay and worse conditions are imposed by unaccountable managers through the threat of unemployment and police violence. Over the past year, its outsourced workers have been fighting one of the most courageous and inspiring industrial disputes in the country, demanding sick pay, holiday pay and pensions; and management is attempting to repress dissent – by shutting down its own student union whilst repeatedly colluding with the Metropolitan Police to attack and arrest demonstrators.

Students are workers. We are forced to work to pay the bills in an increasingly hostile education system in which we pay to learn to work. Ours is a future of exploitation and precarity: permanent austerity means no jobs, no pensions and no welfare state.  We are not fighting for the rights of workers as an act of charity, but because we see solidarity as the only way of preserving our basic freedoms and fighting for a better world.

That is why we are supporting the call for a demonstration on May Day at the University of London. We urge the University of London to grant full sick pay, holiday pay and pensions to all outsourced workers in parity with in-house employees, with no redundancies at the Garden Halls; to ensure that its student union remains fully funded and under democratic student control; and to issue a public statement prohibiting the Police and UKBA from all Campus spaces without the express permission of elected student representatives.

An anonymous tumblr has called for a mass demonstration with the following callout:

The University has seen mass pickets by cleaners, caterers, students and other insubordinates, arm in arm before the gates of a paint splattered university HQ. Watching through clenched teeth and the multiple lenses of their surveillance equipment, management have seen this too, and have sought to restore exploitation in the only way they know how — with lies, evasion – and straightforward violence.

This fight was always about more than the university. Televisions blare out the news of our continued impoverishment: tuition fees up, wages down, No benefits for you! No pay for you! Repayment dates and overdue rent. “Seek assistance” the barriers scream. Another fiver today. Tomorrow, another. 

But in school classrooms and underground stations, amongst the underpaid of the opera houses and cinemas, something stirs: Disaffection is finding its feet. The people that capital likes to imagine are solidly under its thumb are taking the fight back to the bosses.

Join us and our soundsystem at the university HQ on the evening of May 1st for a CARNIVAL to celebrate these victories and show the bosses and cops that despite their continued intimidation, we will keep on fighting.

This is a Carnival for everyone: the precarious, the low paid, the zero-houred, the part-time, the temporary, the interned, the unemployed, the workfared, the sacked, the redundant, the indebted. Bring yourselves and your sound systems to ULU - Malet St - for 6PM, the parade will depart at 7.30.

Workers, students, unemployed of the world – ENJOY!

Sick pay, holidays, pensions now! End union busting! No more vice-chancellors! Cops off campus!

 

Holding Poppy Wilkinson to account

Since January 29th we have been striving to make public Poppy Wilkinson’s record. This includes her decisions to (a) publicly condemn students demonstrating at the University of Birmingham, while 13 students were being arrested and in spite of heavy-handed violence of the part of security, police and university management, and (b) to vote against/abstain from decisions democratically agreed upon by students, and be complicit in the most undemocratic intervention by the Trustee Board in the Guild of Students’ structures seen in years. The latter has resulted in an abhorrent attack on Liberation groups at the University of Birmingham, and risks the decimation of Liberation representation.

Poppy Wilkinson, President of University of Birmingham Guild of Students and Labour Students candidate for NUS NEC, is re-elected President at our students’ union and is anticipated to follow the well-trodden path onto NUS leadership over the coming years. It is for this reason that we want to publicly condemn her actions this year. Her decisions ignited controversy more broadly, including, for instance, over one hundred elected officers from students’ unions around the country condemn her.

Over the course of the past few months we have been accused by Wilkinson and Labour Students of bullying.

We view this use of welfare and accessibility by Labour Students to dissuade us from campaigning against her as underhand and appropriative. It implicitly erases the welfare issues faced by the suspended students. As a result of our suspensions, and the vast portion of our time spent fighting for meagre political support from our students’ union (only 5 weeks after our suspensions began did the Guild even release a statement in opposition), two of us are re-taking their final years, and all of us are experiencing stress, depression or anxiety.

The decisions by the Trustee Board to remove assurances of the continued existence of Liberation Officers, and their refusal to put full-time Liberation Officers to referendum – which Poppy voted to remove as a question – will have profound effect on countless students at the University of Birmingham. It will remove any meaningful attempt to improve the lot of students defining into Liberation groups, who, as we know, are disproportionately likely to suffer depression, to self-harm, to attempt suicide, to experience abuse, bullying and violence, to be sexually assaulted and raped. The welfare of these students has not been taken into account one jot by the Guild of Students under Poppy Wilkinson’s leadership.

So while none of this denigrates Poppy’s experiences, it certainly does justify the interrogation of her record and the public condemnation of her decisions. It is not bullying to hold figures in public office to account.

 

#FightForYashika – save London student Yashika Bageerathi from deportation

Bj6KMjMIQAAyry5UPDATE: Yashika is being taken to Heathrow Terminal 4 tonight for a flight  at 9pm. There are a number of things that you can do, including:

  • Going to Heathrow from 7pm to protest
  • Pressuring @airmauritius not to fly
  • Bombarding Air Mauritius on 0207 434 4375

Yashika Bageerathi is a student from North London who is facing deportation by the British government. Find out more about her case here.

Sign the petition here.

NCAFC opposes all deportations and restrictions on where people can live and study.

Threatened tuition fee hikes: why we need mass resistance, and why we need NCAFC

A student protest over government plans to sell off student loan debtsOriginally posted on Comment is Free here.

The revelation that the new tuition fees system – introduced in 2010 in the face of massive student protest – will in fact cost more to run than the old one, should come as a surprise to almost no one who paid attention to the debate over its introduction. [Read more...]

Government backtracks on cuts to maintenance grant!

156792822_1In a ministerial statement (see below), David Willets, the Universities and Science minister, has taken the prospect of cutting the student maintenance grant off the table. This means that despite speculation over many months, student maintenance grant levels will remain the same over the next two years. This is good news!

In November, 2013, it was revealed by the Guardian newspaper, many other broadsheets and Higher Education experts that because the Government had recklessly mismanaged student recruitment levels at private educational providers and established universities, the department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) had developed a multi-million pound shortfall in its budget. The Government had planned to make this up by cutting £350 million in the student maintenance grant offered to each student (a £1, 000 cut per student).

There has been a dispute within government about this. Willets and Osborne, the Chancellor, were said to favour the maintenance grant cut, however the Liberal Democrats – Vince Cable and Nick Clegg in particular – opposed the measure. It is likely that the government considered the cut in the maintenance grant – which would hit thousands and thousands of poorer students – as potentially very damaging politically prior to an election, and have instead sought to make cuts elsewhere.

It was important that we raised the alarm bell to a potentially harmful proposal.

Due to today’s announcement we have cancelled tomorrow’s planning meeting at ULU. We may reconvene in the next weeks when further news comes from the Government.

BIS still has to find emergency savings of £570m in 2014/15, and £860m in 15/16, from an operational budget of £13bn. Like most changes in Higher Education the decision to cut maintenance grants could be done administratively through a departmental decision, rather than through an act of parliament or plainly put, through a democratic measure.

For that reason we should be alert to further cuts in access agreements by the Government.

We will continue to keep a close-eye on developments within government and update supporters and colleagues.

****

WRITTEN MINISTERIAL STATEMENT RT HON DAVID WILLETTS, MINISTER OF STATE FOR UNIVERSITIES AND SCIENCE; DEPARTMENT FOR BUSINESS, INNOVATION AND SKILLS HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENT SUPPORT FOR THE 2015/16 ACADEMIC YEAR

13 MARCH 2014

“I am today confirming the student support package for higher education students undertaking a course of study in the academic year beginning September 2015.

*Tuition charges and loans*

For all new full-time students and eligible continuing full-time students who started their courses on or after 1 September 2012, maximum tuition charges and maximum tuition loans will be maintained in 2015/16 at the £6,000 and £9,000 levels which apply in 2014/15.

For continuing full-time students who started their courses before September 2012, maximum tuition charges and maximum tuition loans will be maintained in 2015/16 at the £3,465 level which applies in 2014/15.

For all new part-time students in 2015/16, and eligible continuing part-time students who started their courses on or after 1 September 2012, maximum tuition charges and maximum tuition loans will also be maintained at the £4,500 and £6,750 levels which apply in 2014/15.

*Maintenance Grant*

The Government announced in the 2013 Spending Review in June 2013 that the maximum Maintenance Grant for students attending full-time courses in 2015/16 would be maintained at the same levels which apply in 2014/15. This means for new students and eligible continuing students who started their courses on or after 1 September 2012, the maximum grant in 2015/16 will remain at £3,387. For continuing students who started their courses before 1 September 2012, the maximum grant in 2015/16 will remain at £3,110.

*Loans for living costs*

Eligible students attending full-time courses will be entitled to more overall support for their living costs in 2015/16 than in 2014/15. Maximum loans for living costs for new and continuing full-time students will be increased by forecast inflation for 2015/16, 3.34%.

For new students and eligible continuing students who started attending their courses on or after 1 September 2012, who are living away from home and studying outside London, the maximum loan for living costs will be increased to £5,740. I can confirm that the equivalent loan rates for students living away from home and studying in London will be £8,009; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £4,565; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £6,820.

For eligible full-time students who started attending their courses before 1 September 2012 and are living away from home while studying outside London, the maximum loan for living costs will be increased to £5,167. The equivalent loan rates for students living away from home and studying in London will be £7,230; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £4,005; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £6,151.

*Dependants’ grants*

The Government is committed to supporting students with caring responsibilities. I am therefore announcing today that means tested dependants’ grants for full-time students attending their courses will be increased by forecast inflation for 2015/16. The maximum Adult Dependants’ Grant will be increased by 3.34% to £2,757 in 2015/16.

The maximum Childcare Grant payable in 2015/16, which covers 85% of actual childcare costs, will be increased by 3.34% in 2015/16 to £155.24 per week for one child only and to £266.15 per week for two or more children. The maximum Parents’ Learning Allowance payable in 2015/16 will be increased by 3.34% to £1,573.

*Part-time grants and loans*

For those students who started part-time and full-time distance learning courses before 1 September 2012 and who are continuing their courses in 2015/16, maximum fee and course grants will be maintained at the levels that apply for 2014/15. Maximum fee grants will be maintained at £1,285, depending on the intensity of study of the course. Maximum course grants will be maintained at £280.

*Income thresholds*

Household income thresholds for grants for tuition and living costs, and loans for living costs, will be maintained at 2014/15 levels for 2015/16.

*Disabled Students’ Allowances*

Lastly today, I can confirm that maximum grants for full-time, part-time and postgraduate students with disabilities will be maintained at 2014/15 levels in 2015/16.

*Regulations*

I expect to lay Regulations implementing changes to student support for 2015/16 later this year. More details of the 2015/16 student support package will be published by my Department in due course.

Press Release – Leicester student activist on trial accused of cops off campus ‘hate crime’ towards ex-cop security-guard

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Leicester student activist on trial accused of “#CopsOffCampus” ‘hate crime’ towards ex-cop security-guard.

Alistair Robinson is to appear in court charged for allegedly elbowing a security guard on Wednesday 11 December 2013 during a sit-in at the University of Leicester, calling for fair pay for staff at the university. The trial is at Leicester Magistrate’s court today, Friday the 7th March at 2pm.

Alistair Robinson, 24, was arrested on the 6th of February 2014 supporting a picket-line at the University of Leicester, almost two months after the alleged assault. Witnesses claim that during the sit-in, the defendant was not near Mr Monks, Head of Security at the university, at any time.

Leicster

There was also surprise at the timing of the arrest, only three days after it emerged that Mr Robinson had been nominated to run for Students’ Union President in the University of Leicester Sabbatical elections, and the same week that Robinson published an article in the University of Leicester student newspaper, condemning the university’s decision to withhold a full days pay to staff on strike for just two hours.

Nina Trbojevic, a student at the university said, “Alistair had been in touch with police about his stolen bicycle, between December and his arrest. They knew where to find him, so why did they wait until February?”

At a bail-hearing on the 21st of February, Robinson was informed by the Crown Prosecution Service prosecutor that the CPS had made a recommendation to police that the  case be discontinued due to a lack of evidence. A provisional adjournment date was set for the 7th of March, pending response from Leicestershire Police. However, bafflingly this week, the defence were made aware that Leicestershire Police will be continuing with the case against Robinson; soon after it was discovered that Mr Monks, the security-guard making the accusation, has previously had a long career in the police, reaching the rank of Sergeant before becoming Chairman of the Leicestershire Police Federation.

Oddly, the assault has been categorised as a “hate crime”. It is believed this relates to the police presumption that the protest was a ‘cops off campus’ demonstration, being on the same day as nationwide cops off campus demonstrations, called in response to the violence used by police towards student protesters at the University of London. Demonstrators at the fair-pay protest in Leicester held a number of banners, with only one of them referring to ‘cops off campus’, in solidarity with London protesters.

The hearing is today at 2pm, Friday the 7th March at Leicester Magistrates Court, 15 Pocklingtons Walk, Leicester LE1 6BT.

 

Press enquiries: [email protected]

 

ENDS

Don’t let the Coalition attack the poorest students: fight the cut to student grants!

universityprotestThe government are set to cut a series of vital access measures and cut the student maintenance grant by £1, 000 (a 40% cut!). Because of the urgency of the matter, the University of London Union is proposing holding a national meeting on the issue in the coming weeks,  info will be posted here.

Additionally, we are calling a Budget day demonstration on the 19th March, full info out soon.

The Government has plans to slash £1,000 from the maximum level of student grants, as well cutting hundreds of millions from arrangements to promote access. We the undersigned student activists and student union officers are organising to fight these plans. After the upcoming national election the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is planning to cut the maximum level of maintenance grants by £1,000 a year – a 40 percent cut! – to be replaced by higher loans.

In addition, having already brought forward the scrapping of the National Scholarship Program, it is abolishing the Access to Learning Fund which gives discretionary grants to the very poorest students. Higher education funding will be cut by over a hundred million. On top of the privatisation of student loans! This is an enormous attack on higher education, and the cut to grants is an enormous and very direct attack on students. We need to fight it!

These cuts are partly a result of BIS’s shambolic disarray, symbolised by its decision to let provide providers expand hugely without factoring in the extra cost in student support. But this is not just incompetence: it is a deliberate part of the Coalition’s wide-ranging devastation of public services. We demand decent funding so that higher education can be run as a public service. We call on the Labour Party to oppose these cuts and pledge that it will reverse them. Immediately, we will fight the funding cuts and the dramatic cut to student grants.

We call on NUS to launch a serious campaign including a national demonstration in the autumn. There is a national planning meeting in the coming weeks at the University of London Union to discuss ways forward for a campaign on the issue, info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/581883648546360/

Additionally, we are calling a Budget day demonstration on the 19th March, full info out soon. ‘Like’ the page @Don’t let the Government cut the student maintenance grant… and share the news.

 

TAKE BACK THE UNIVERSITY // we’ll manage ourselves – 28th February

1621999_210826352452176_610924236_n

 

Demonstration called by Occupy Senate House. Facebook event here.

TIME: 1pm, 28th February

PLACE: meet at ULU, Malet Street

#SACKSMITH #COPSOFFCAMPUS

The University of London management have lost all legitimacy. The people who run our University represent no-one, and are elected by no-one. Their actions this year have shown them to be cowardly, brutal and at odds with everything that academic institutions and communities should stand for.

Mass arrests, missing teeth and blood on the streets: as Adrian Smith and the other University of London managers force through their vision for higher education, the past six months have clarified that the only argument they can present to effective opposition is that of police brutality. The police and the University claim such actions are necessary to uphold “Public Order”.

Lobbying for higher fees and lower wages, there is little that is “Public” about the university’s unelected and unaccountable management but plenty of orders, which lacking in any democratic legitimacy can only be supported by the violence of the Police. We are mobilising for a democratic education system, against a university management that is trying to shut down its student union, exploit and intimidate low-paid staff and attack our right to resist.

#3Cosas
Despite a combined salary in excess of £4 Million, the university management refuse to grant the university’s lowest paid workers sick pay, holiday pay and pensions.

Waking at 4am to travel from the only homes they can afford, cleaners have been forced to work when sick and seriously injured. Overworked and underpaid, workers and their supporters are being disciplined for fighting for basic rights; harassment, malicious prosecutions and union busting underline the contempt the university managers have for staff.

#SaveULU
The Vice Chancellors that run the University of London lead calls to introduce £9000 fees. As marketisation continues to transform universities into the preserve of wealthy students and armaments research, management have attempted to ban forms of protest and are moving to close down ULU – one of the few spaces left under democratic student control.

#Copsoffcampus
It’s no coincidence that marketisation has been accompanied by a new ethos where challenge is met with an instant appeal to violence. The market is not a natural social arrangement. It has always had to be imposed at the point of a gun. The use of the police to uphold UoL Management decisions is indicative of a wider political programme: a police state is a necessity to enforce austerity. Wage suppression, privatization and fee rises: the police violence used to enable such policies is austerity in action. Cops off campus is a necessity if we wish to have any chance of meaningful resistance.

**ADRIAN SMITH OFF CAMPUS**
We should not demand new management but its abolition: to be replaced by democratic processes comprised of and accountable to the University’s students, workers and academics. As the tactical retreat by the Police at the recent #copsoffcampus mobilisation has shown, when the movement is on the offensive it can win major gains.

The university management have lost all legitimacy. In the absence of any democracy it is clear that the marketisation agenda of the University of London administration is supported only by unremitting state violence. And as the recent malicious suspensions and Police violence at the universities of Sussex and Birmingham demonstrate, such behavior is far from the exception.

On the 28th February Adrian Smith and the UoL Vice-Chancellors will be meeting in Senate House to continue their destructive governance. We will be there with a simple message: Resign, immediately.

If we wish to effectively resist the deterioration of our lives imposed by austerity, we must regain control of the institutions where we live our everyday lives: We must become unmanageable.

1pm, ULU, See you there.

#SACKSMITH #COPSOFFCAMPUS

Motions for NUS national conference

g13888817514990490On 8th to 10th April, the National Union of Students (NUS) will be holding its national annual conference. NCAFC supporters have put forward motions to send to the conference in order to raise arguments and fight for NUS to take on left wing policies. If you want to add motions to the list on this website, email them in to [email protected] [Read more...]

NCAFC candidates at NUS national conference

The National Union of Students (NUS) is holding its national conference in Liverpool on 8th to 10th April.

NCAFC has put forward and endorsed a number of candidates for the full-time officer elections at conference to bring the politics of free education, grassroots struggle and democracy to NUS.

These candidates were voted on at a meeting on the national committee in January. NCAFC does not seek to ‘whip’ delegates and members are free to act as they wish.

coopsDaniel Cooper, current University of London Union Vice President, will be running for National President

“I’m running for President on a platform of transforming NUS into a fighting organisation. Mass struggle on our campuses, on the streets and in our workplaces is always more important than anything that happens in the structures of student unions and NUS. We are facing cut after cut after cut; the threat of even higher fees and privatised loans; a resurgence of sexist, racist, anti-migrant and homophobic bigotry; a crackdown on our right to protest; privatisation, outsourcing and attacks on workers’ rights. We will can only defeat this assault through radicalism, militant determination, mass direct action, and bold political education and campaigning.”

View Daniel’s manifesto and facebook page.

webbyHannah Webb, current University College London Union External Affairs and Campaigns Officer, will be running for Vice President (Union Development)

“I’m running for Vice President Union Development because I want to see an NUS which builds democratic and autonomous student unions capable of challenging the status quo in society and fighting for the future of education. Fees, cuts and privatisation are not just attacks on students: they are a threat to our existence as a movement. Our institutions have been taken over by unelected cliques of highly-paid managers who view dissent and independent unions as a nuisance and a threat. We will not survive by pandering to an ideology which views students as consumers and student unions as services hubs for selling the student experience. “

View Hannah’s manifesto and facebook page.

rogersKelly Rogers, a student at the University of Birmingham, will be running for Vice President (Welfare)

“I am an undergraduate student  at  the  University  of  Birmingham. At the time of writing I am suspended from my course after having been unlawfully arrested at a national demonstration, and released without charge. I  have no  right of appeal, am  banned from seeing my tutors or entering  any  university  premises.  My  student union failed  me: it  condemned the actions of  students,  driven  by  valid  political  frustrations,  and  yet  stayed  silent  on  unlawful arrests, kettling,  physical  violence  towards  students  and  the  political  targeting  of activists through suspensions, and threats of expulsion.”

View Kelly’s manifesto here.

 

skyNCAFC has endorsed Sky Yarlett, current NUS LGBT Officer (Open Place) for Vice President (Society and Citizenship).

You can view their manifesto here.

 

 

 

meg

NCAFC has endorsed Megan Dunn, current President at the University of Aberdeen, for Vice President (Higher Education). However see this statement we made on 2 April.

You can view her manifesto here.

 

 

You can view manifestos for all candidates here.

NCAFC supporter Shreya Paudel is standing for NUS International Students’ Officer. You can read about his campaign here.