Why is my rent so f***ing high?

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By Flavius McFlavourdale

A consistent trend across universities is the skyrocketing of rent in university halls. Universities stay quiet about rent hikes and we assume they’re a weird force of nature. However, there is no reason why rent should be so high and increasing at the rate it is. So why is my rent so high? There are basically two reasons for this.

Firstly, since 2010 direct funding to universities has been been completely cut and now universities are entirely reliant on your £9,000+ fees for funding. Whereas before university funding was always guaranteed, now it is insecure – unis now need to spend copious amounts of money on PR, visit days and brochures, to attract your loans. However, it also means that unis look for other ways to make funding more stable – one way to do this is to increase rent and channel this money back into management and expansion.

Secondly, universities are acting ever more like businesses (a direct result of policy changes in higher education) – universities now aim ever more for profit and expansion. As such they want to gather enough money to make this possible. They do this by amongst other things: cutting paying, putting staff on worse contracts – and of course making the rent very damn high!

But it needn’t be this way. There is enough wealth in our society to make education and housing and accessible for all and get rid of financial barriers to education. We can only do this through collective and disruptive action. One way in particular has been to organise rent strikes whereby students withhold rent en masse and gain collective leverage over university management. Students from London, to Brighton to Bristol have been involved in this and in some cases have made massive wins as big as £1 million in rent cuts and freezes and bursary increases.

Let’s make housing accessible for all! Let’s cut the rent!

Free Education is within our reach – if we fight for it now, we can win!

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The snap General Election earlier this year has transformed the fight for free education. Labour’s pledge to tax the rich and fund free education was so popular that the Government are now on the back foot and feeling the pressure.

As students and workers united together, now is the time to go on the offensive. If we do, we can keep up this pressure on the Conservative Government and make sure that if a Labour Government gets into power it follows through on its promises. That’s why we’re marching on November 15th.

Right now our education is being attacked from every angle. The marketisation of Further and Higher Education is driving enormous cuts in courses and staff across the country. This lets big business and private companies in to make money, and shuts out those who want and need accessible education the most.

Tuition fees are at the heart of this marketization. They lead to inequality between institutions and eroded job security and working conditions of staff and campus workers. The Teaching Excellence Framework meant to ‘drive up standards in teaching’ is directly linked to the intensifying exploitation and casualisation of university staff.

Scrapping all fees cuts the legs out from underneath this marketization agenda. We must demand that no student, home or international, should pay a penny in tuition fees. We want an end to the cash cow treatment of international students. And we want an end to the regressive maintenance loan system which sees poorest students graduating with the highest amount of debt. This is a debt which is causing a widespread mental health crisis amongst students.

But this system could be about to change. In its place we demand living grants for all: every student across further and higher education should get enough money to study and live on. No more working part time jobs, no more having to depend on family for money, and finally an end to dealing with the bureaucratic mess that is Student Finance and SAAS.

You may have heard people argue that we don’t have the money to pay for free education. That is a myth. We know there is no shortage of wealth in our society: enormous riches lie hoarded in the pockets of a few. We should tax the extortionate wealth of big business and corporations and put it to better use by investing in an education run by and for students, workers and communities, just as we should for other public services like the NHS.

Join us in organising action to win: on our campuses, in our communities, and on the streets.

Free education accessible to everyone is within our reach. By taking action in our thousands, we can seize it now. March with the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts on 15th November: for an end to tuition fees and for living grants for all students, funded by taxing the rich.

Free Education. Now is the time

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Now is the time.

The General Election and its aftermath has put free education back on the agenda. Thousands and thousands of people turned out to vote inspired by the idea of a publicly funded education system and degrees that don’t come with a burden of debt. Education funding is making front-page headlines and becoming a hot topic in Parliament, with Labour initiating a three-hour long emergency debate. More and more voices are speaking out against the disastrous debt-fuelled funding regime, and even those who once championed fee rises are now advocating scrapping them altogether. What for too long seemed like a far-fetched dream, now is looking more and more possible every day. Some say a change is inevitable – but we know that power concedes nothing without a fight, and we wouldn’t be talking about free education now if it wasn’t for those who spent the past seven years or more organising on their campuses and in their communities.

Now is the time to step up – to argue louder than ever that education can and should be free, accessible to all and run democratically in the interest of students, workers and society. To demand a National Education Service that’s free education for all, funded by taxing the rich and big business – no ifs, no buts, no compromises. This is our chance, an opportunity we simply cannot afford to miss.

How do we move forward? How do we harness the fresh excitement around free education, put serious pressure on those in power and make the idea reality? This is something NCAFC is currently discussing and we need your ideas! Join the conversation on the member’s loomio (our discussion and decision making platform) and help us plan a campaign to finally bring an end to tuition fees.

** https://www.loomio.org/d/42VLOK1i/now-is-the-time-free-education-go-go-go **

Everyone who is a member can access the forum and contribute. You should’ve received an activation link when you joined NCAFC – contact us at a[email protected] if you cannot access your account.

If you’re not yet a member, join NCAFC now – http://anticuts.com/membership/

What do we want? Free education!

When do we want it? Now!