NCAFC National Conference 2015 – MOTIONS RELEASED

In the run up to NCAFC’s Annual Conference 2015, groups from across the country have submitted their motions about what NCAFC should be campaigning on and how the National Campaign should be run.

All members of NCAFC can submit amendments to these motions – just email them to [email protected] by 23:59 on Wednesday 2 December. We’ll be debating them at Conference, which runs from 4-6th December. If you haven’t registered for conference yet, make sure you (fill out the registration form) and book your transport today!

You can see the full schedule for the conference, including workshops, liberation caucuses, motions debate, and elections.

Motions Document (Word, 37KB)
Motions Document (PDF, 301KB)

[Read more…]

Public Outrage at Student Loan Repayment Threshhold Changes


In the spending review today the government confirmed its plans to retroactively change student loan conditions and raid the pay checks of graduates on low and middle incomes.

The proposals were out for consultation over the summer, and we – alongside many others – expressed our total opposition to the plans. 410 out of 489 respondents opposed the idea. These changes are, rightly, very unpopular. No other loan contract has a condition stating that the conditions can be changes on the whim of the creditor.

“This shows that the government is intent on waging ever more unjust attacks on borrowers and the low waged. Our opposition must be as unflinching as their attacks.” said Hope Worsdale, NCAFC National Committee.

“I can’t really believe it’s finally been confirmed,,” Said Callum Cant, a recent graduate who will be effected by the changes. “You can’t change the conditions on a mortgage, why should the government be able to change the conditions on a student loan? Literally millions of students are being cheated by the government.”

Our full analysis can be found here.

Retrospective Repayment Hikes: Changes to Student Loan Conditions














Ben Towse

Not content with raising undergrad fees to £9,000 and replacing mature further education (FE) students’ grants with loans, now the government wants to hike up repayments on undergrad and 24+ Advanced Learning Loans. This attack won’t just hit future students, but anyone who began studying since 2012.

Changing the repayment threshold

In 2010, the government claimed their new fees system would protect low earners. Graduates would only have to make repayments on income over £21,000, and that threshold would increase to reflect inflation.

Now the Tories are consulting on proposals to freeze that threshold until at least 2021. As inflation and living costs rise, the threshold will fall in real terms. Repayments will be higher, and lower-waged graduates will now have to make repayments. This is all possible because when we took out student loans the small print said that the repayment regulations could change.

The consultation presents the only other choice as freezing the threshold just for students starting in 2016 and later. Maintaining the system introduced just 3 years ago is barely considered an option – they describe their own loans system as “unaffordable”.

Why is this happening?

We always argued that the £9,000 fees system was not only unjust to students and damaging to education, but financially unsustainable and ill-advised even on the terms the government was arguing.

Since then, the amount of money the government is forecast to get back from the loans has fallen and fallen, so that now this new system is barely saving any money. This is happening because in the Tories’ low-wage, austerity economy, wages are just too low for us to pay back the loans! The repayment hike is an attempt to make us pay, once again, for their mistakes and attacks.

Raiding the pockets of lower- and middle-income graduates      

2 million borrowers are predicted to be affected. The government projects that graduates on starting salaries of £21,000 or £30,000 would repay an additional £6,100 each over the lifetime before their debt is written off at the 30-year mark. By comparison, graduates starting at £40,000, who would previously have expected to pay off virtually their entire debt, will repay just £300 more under the new system.

So by raiding the pockets of middle and lower earners, leaving the richer largely unaffected, the government expects to make £3.2 billion in extra repayments from existing undergraduates, and more from future students. They will make just £35 million out of existing FE borrowers, in part because these students will be repaying out of lower salaries. The government can’t be bothered to make a political case for changing FE loans – they are affected simply because it would be bureaucratically difficult to separate them out of the undergrad-focused loan system they were bundled into in 2013. The consultation gives almost zero attention to the effects on FE.

The impacts

The Tories are crossing a new line and setting a precedent that students and graduates are a piggy bank that can be raided any time the government needs some spare cash.

Even worse, why would students risk taking out a student loan to access education when the conditions can be changed at any time to make some money for the government? This is a disincentive to enter education at all, particularly for those without the safety net of wealthy families. Making big predictions is hard, but some experts do believe it likely that prospective students will become “more wary of taking on debt”.

And it might affect the courses students feel pressured to choose. The pressure is on to get high-paying jobs that will pay off debt faster, before the next repayment hike – pushing students to focus only on subjects and activities that will net those jobs.

Why I’m supporting striking workers at the Open University











Lawrence Green

Tomorrow (Wednesday 25th November) Academics and support staff are going on strike against the closure of 7 of the 9 regional centres, and the loss of 494 jobs. The final decision was taken today by the University Council – after which the union immediately announce the strike, which got the support of 72% of voters at the beginning of the month.

The university plans to open three new larger supra-regional centres – and argues that the changing nature of study at the university means that keeping the centres doesn’t make sense.

The University’s senate – which represents the views of academics – voted against the changes, and has described them as “very high risk”, and failing to keep in line with the instituion’s academic mission. The UCU describes this as catastrophic, and there has even been an early day motion in parliament, supported by 29 MPs.

The Open University Student Association released a typically watery response which takes the disgraceful position of supporting the university against the union in the name of ‘ of the student body.’

This has left the UCU as the only group left standing up for students and workers – and the values that the University was founded to embody.

Why this is important to students – and the student movement

One of the best things about studying at the OU is that I can access learning in so many different ways. I’m studying tonight, and the course content is presented in text, audio, video and even simple animation. There is a tutor group forum where the module tutor regularly posts and replies within 24 hours. For someone with learning and attention difficulties like me, it is the best way I have ever studied. Truthfully.
Every month, there is an online tutorial with my tutor. The week after there is a physical one. I am lucky that I live in Milton Keynes, near the main OU campus, and can attend this. It is part of what makes the learning experience at the OU so well rounded.
This is could be about to end for the majority of the UK. This means not only the loss of 500 jobs, but it also makes it that much harder for the many people who choose to study at the OU *because* of it’s ease of access.
It also has the the lowest fees of any degree awarding institution in the UK, with modules costing £1350 (30 credits) or £2700 (60 credits) – or £5400 a year. The degrees are mainly part time and distance learning, with a great flexability in what you can learn and when. It has the highest amount of mature learners and part time learners in the UK – people who are or have been disadvantaged by the education system in the past. Crucially, it also offers degree level courses to applicants who haven’t got any qualifications at all – and provides a great deal of support helping these students to cope with the demands of a university course.
We cant let this be the thin end of the wedge which destroys the most accessible, egalitarian, and unique institution we have in the UK.
This is why I will be standing in solidarity with UCU workers striking tomorrow.

Please sign and share the UCU petition.

The 7 regional centres set to close are



NCAFC Goes to Young Labour Conference

Corbyn-picket-lineNCAFC believes that political change happens on our campuses, on the streets and in our workplaces. But we also recognise the huge significance of the Labour Party, particularly under Corbyn’s leadership.

We know that the election of Jeremy Corbyn isn’t enough – we need a fighting movement behind him, defending him from the Right and pushing him further where he falls short. Already the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) is sharpening its knives. We need to show that Corbyn’s policies, including free education, have a huge mandate behind them and the labour movement is going to fight for them.

In this spirit NCAFC, working with and through Labour Young Socialists, is going to organise a presence at the Young Labour National Conference on February 27th and 28th in Scarborough, where we can fight for our ideas.

This means we need as many NCAFC members who are also young (under 27) Labour Party members as possible to register as delegates.

Become a delegate

Each region will have 50 delegate spaces and we expect that not all of them will be filled. This means that becoming a delegate is as easy as signing up here:

If it comes to an election it will be an online ballot with tons of candidates standing – so make sure you stand out! You only have 50 words to say why you should go to Conference. This means you can’t put forward a comprehensive vision for the socialist wonderland you will advance there. What it does mean you can do: say who you are, something nice you’ve done, and a clear indicator of what kind of policy you want to see.

Once you’ve done that, let us know here:

The deadline for this is the 2nd December so please move fast!

Please note: the conference will cost £30 to attend. Please do not let this prevent you from putting yourself forward – you do not need to pay yet and we are going to try to secure financial support.


The Young Labour National Committee will be elected at conference and by online ballot in the run up to it.

The committee comprises:

  • 1 Chair elected at Conference
  • 1 youth representative on the Labour National Executive Committee (NEC), elected at conference
  • 1 representative for each Region and Nation, elected by online ballot (half of which are reserved for women)
  • 1 Women’s Officer, elected by the women’s caucus at Conference
  • 1 BAME Officer, elected by the BAME (Black and Minority Ethnicity) caucus at Conference
  • 1 LGBT Officer, elected by the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans) caucus at Conference
  • 1 Disabled Officer, elected by the disabled caucus at Conference
  • 1 Under 19s Officer, elected by the under 19s caucus at Conference
  • 2 Ordinary Representatives elected at Conference (one reserved for women)
  • 1 International Officer elected at Conference
  • A number of seats appointed by Trade Unions, affiliated socialist societies, and Labour students (none of which are elected through Young Labour)

If we want an active, campaigning, democratic Young Labour in which power is put into the hands of grassroots activists, it is absolutely vital that the candidates who advance this vision are elected.

Get in touch if you are interested in standing!



Of course, elections are just one small part. We want to mandate Young Labour to promote left-wing policy in the party’s structures. We will also push a full programme of reform to transform the youth wing into an organisation that is open, democratic, and able to fight.


If you have any questions or comments then please get in touch with James McAsh or Rida Vaquas

Understanding the TEF: a brief explanation

Green Paper DOA graphic TEF 4What is TEF?

A Teaching Excellence Framework is being developed by the government to assess the quality of teaching at different institutions. Universities that do well will be allowed to increase their fees above £9k.

Why is it introduced?

When the fee cap was raised in 2010, the government hoped that it would create a market, where the most elite universities can charge more. This hasn’t happened, as almost all courses raised their fees to £9k to make up for the cuts in public funding. TEF is designed to artificially introduce competition between HE providers and lead to variable fees.

But what does “good teaching” mean?

TEF levels (corresponding to different levels of fees) will be awarded by a “panel of experts,” using available data and additional information provided by institutions. The criteria that will be used are still unspecified, but some of the suggested metrics include:

Employment rates and graduate earnings

One of the goals of TEF is making sure that universities provide the skills that businesses want. TEF will look into employment statistics, and institutions that produce the most employable and highest paid graduates will be rewarded.


Big business having a say in curriculum development.

Less emphasis on critical thinking, more on pleasing bosses.

Mass closures of arts and humanities courses.

NSS results

Every year, graduating students receive a National Student Survey where they can rate their university experience.


Even more incentives for universities to game the system, buy positive feedback and focus more on NSS metrics than real student issues.

Pitting students against staff; penalising academics who don’t produce high NSS scores.

Perverse incentives: if students score their institution highly, fees will rise.

Widening Participation

TEF will take into account the number of student from disadvantaged backgrounds and their outcomes.

This is great, but…

At the same time, the government is raising fees, cutting FE and scrapping grants for the poorest students. Now universities will be forced to make up for where the government has failed.

Subjective metrics like “learning environment” and “appropriate pedagogical approaches”


Impossible to measure

More bureaucracy

Less academic freedom

New Strike Motion




Support a Strike Ballot!


  1. That the recent government Green Paper on Higher Education has raised the possibility that, in the future, ministers might raise tuition fees without a vote in Parliament.
  2. That the proposed metrics for the Teaching Excellence Framework are inadequate for assessing teaching quality, and that these metrics may disproportionately benefit market-oriented institutions with a low intake of working-class students.
  3. That higher education institutions which perform well on the Teaching Excellence Framework will be rewarded with the power to raise fees in line with inflation, thus squeezing the budgets of institutions which perform poorly.
  4. That the government intends to convert maintenance grants into maintenance loans, putting the poorest students in the most debt.
  5. That the government has been making significant cuts to Disabled Students’ Allowance, endangering access for disabled students to higher education.
  6. That the government proposes to change the conditions for post-2012 student loan repayments, and that these new conditions will affect lower-earning graduates the worst.
  7. That the government has proposed to cut £1.6 billion from the further education budget, putting 4 in 10 colleges in danger of closing.


  1. That students should have the right to democratically decide how we fight against the government’s attacks on further and higher education.
  2. That there are many cases for and against the strike tactic, but that these arguments should be had by students at large in a democratic process.
  3. That the student movement will only ever win on the basis of mass grassroots participation.


  1. To inform the NUS that this union supports a ballot on the questions and demands specified herein:


“Should students take strike action on 22nd and 23rd February to defend students, colleges and universities from current government attacks, which threaten to further marketise education?”


“The demands of the strike are to defend students, colleges and universities from current government cuts and attacks. The specifics are:

1. That tuition fees are not increased, and that the power to raise them undemocratically is not handed over to the Secretary of State.

2. That the Teaching Excellence Framework, which will only further harm education, pressuring and overburdening academics and workers in an already intense climate of uncertainty, is scrapped.

3. That increases in the cost of education for the poorest and most vulnerable students are halted: that cuts to Disabled Students’ Allowance and cuts to maintenance grants are reversed, and that student loan repayment conditions are not worsened.

4. That all cuts to further and adult education since 2015 are halted and reversed.”

Strike to Win: the Rationale Behind Changing Strike Demands













Callum Cant, NCAFC NC

How do you go about deciding what demands to strike over? The NCAFC has raised hundreds of demands over the years – from the most prominent, like Free Education, to the less prominent, like a 5:1 pay ratio between the highest and lowest paid staff on campus.

First, we want to strike demands to be an effective part of reaching our end goal. Our end goal is a Free Education system – free in the broadest sense. We really do want to win, and so we have to make sure that our demands can’t be easily sidestepped or misconstrued.

Second, we want our strike demands to matter to students. There is no point trying to convince tens of thousands of students to go on strike over issues they don’t give a shit about. It’s not going to work, and everyone will get very tired very quickly. Which is why demands have to be very limited in number, simple to communicate, and appeal directly to the interests of the majority of students. If we want genuine mass democratic action, it has to be about something that matters.

Third, we want our strike demands to be realistically winnable. Our comrades in Quebec, the ASSE, have a phrase: “Strike to Win”. That means, we don’t go into a fight expecting to lose. We don’t spend huge amounts of time, effort and resources building campaigns only to watch them fail. We want to win, and so we will strike on demands that we can win.

But this process of developing demands cannot be static. The government’s tactic with the green paper was – somewhat transparently – to delay until we had a national demonstration, and then totally change the focal point of their attack. From grants as the primary focus, we have had to re-organise our defence of education towards the marketisation measures set out in the green paper. If we ignore this change, and press on with a strike about grants alone, then we are ignoring how the antagonism between students and the government is developing.

It should be a principle that NCAFC doesn’t tell students what they should care about and what their interests are. We’re not interested in dictating the direction of struggle from the top down. Instead, we should always work to recognise that we have things to teach each other – and we have to be alive to changing conditions on campuses across the country. This is the fundamental reasoning behind why we’ve changed the demands behind the student strike.

In response to developments, therefore, we’ve now widened the model strike motion to include Green Paper proposals. Now, as well as demanding grants for the million poorest students we will also demand no tuition fee increases, the scrapping of plans for bullshit teaching metrics, the reintroduction of Disabled Students Allowance and the reversal of cuts to FE.

We now need to pass this motion in 28 unions – we don’t have much time to spare! If we seriously want to pursue this strike, every SU with a left wing presence must submit this motion to a vote as soon as possible.

How to take action on your campus on November 26th?











On November 26th students will take action on their campuses across the UK to start the campaign to save education before it’s murdered by the market! Here is a few ideas of what you can do on your campus that day:

1. ReJoJohnson2spond to the consultation!

Fill in your response to the consultation and proposed reforms!

a) Fill in a postcard: We have invested in some postcards directed at Jo Johnson. Organise a stall on your campus, to talk to students about the Green paper and then ask them to fill out a postcard with their response to the consultation. In a few weeks we will then arrange for these postcards to get to University Minister Jo Johnson in a memorable way.. We can send you a stack of postcards – just order them by emailing us: [email protected]

b) Talk to your local UCU branch about what they think about the green paper? A lot of the measures – especially the TEF – will affect them massively. Some academics had this letter in the Guardian a few weeks back. Why not ask lecturers on your campus to sign it?

c) Collect signatures for this petition:

2. Ensure your Vice Chancellor speaks out against the Green Paper!

vcoccupationVice Chancellors and university managements have actually more influence in the direction of university education than they want you to think. However, in the past university managements haven’t been particularly on our side and have been one of the biggest lobby groups for higher or uncapped fees. Hence, don’t waste too much time trying to be nice to your VC. Instead:

a) Occupy your VC’s office: Take a group of 20-30 students and occupy your VC’s or other relevant senior management offices. Say, that you won’t leave till they have agreed to speak out against the TEF and other bad policies in the Green paper. We are currently working on a letter which can be used across the UK and which you could ask your VC to sign.

b) Picket their offices: If occupying isn’t for you or you don’t think you can organise an occupation, then just picket their offices all day. Be loud (pots and pans and megaphones?) and be visible. Demand that they come and speak to you!

c) Organise a demonstration on campus: This is always a good way of bringing in new people and getting your message out to lots of students. Why not march to the management building…?

3. Educate yourselves and everyone on campus about the dangers of marketisation in Higher Education 

greenpaperflyera) By holding a teach-in:  Occupy a big room or public space for the afternoon and put on a program of lectures, discussions and arts&crafts. Advertise the programme online and in posters in advance, but advertise a *mystery location*. On the day you then direct people to wherever you are… Is there a lecturer on your campus who is outspoken against the Tories and is for a public university? Then invite them to do a talk. There is also many students, academics and activists across the country who could come down. Get in contact with us if you want help or a speaker.

b) Organise a public meeting at night: If you are doing other actions during the day, why not organise a public meeting about the measures in the green paper at night? Use the day to get the word out and then educate people at night. Again, if you need help with speakers, let us know.

c) Organise a stall on campus during the day, talk to people about the Green paper and give them these flyers that we have produced (email us to order them: [email protected])
3. Fill in your response to the consultation and proposed reforms!
The NCAFC is investing in some materials to amplify the oppositional voices of students at Universities and colleges across the country. If you want some for your campus, send us an email and let us know, then we’ll arrange with you to make sure these postcards all get to University Minister Jo Johnson in time for the consultation deadline in a memorable way…

National Conference 2015 – schedule announced!




Friday 4 Dec

20:00 – Film: TBC (& pizza!)

Saturday 5 Dec

10:00 – Registration
10:30 – Plenary session: “The Fight for Education is Global”
11:10 – break
11:20 – Workshop Session A
1) Organising in FE: how to build a mass movement against the 1.6 billion cuts
2) So, your activist group has shrunk? How to reboot it and organise in HE
3) Organising nationally: Reflecting on NCAFC’s work over the past year
4) Rethinking Labour: organising for free education inside the Labour party
12:20 – Liberation caucus: Black
13:05 – Lunch
13:45 – Workshop Session B
1) What would a comprehensive university look like?
2) How can we reverse the cuts to maintenance grants and DSA?
3) What does it mean to demand ‘No Borders’?
4) Socialising the Student Strike
14:45 – break
15:00 – Liberation caucus: LGBTQ
15:45 – Workshop Session C
1) The Green Paper in detail
2) Building the Student Strike
3) Creative campaigning: get inspired!
4) Students for the NHS: Fighting junior doctor contract changes and bursary cuts!
16:45 – break
16:55 – Liberation caucus: Disabled
17:40 – break
17:50 – Plenary session: “Fighting the Green Paper”
19:15 – Regional and National caucuses
20:00 – close

Evening: Social!

Sunday 6 Dec

09:45 – Registration
10:00 – Plenary session: “COP21 and Climate justice”
10:30 – Liberation caucus: Women
11:15 – break
11:30 – Democratic Session A
Safer Spaces Committee elections
Motions debate
12:45 – Lunch
13:15 – Democratic Session B
14:30 – break
14:45 – Democratic Session C
15:45 – break
16:00 – Democratic Session D
National Committee elections
16:45 – Plenary session: Closing remarks
17:30 – conference close

Monday 7 Dec

09:30 – National Committee Meeting (open to all members)
13:00 – Lunch
13:45 – National Committee Meeting continued
15:30 – close