National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts Constitution

This constitution was adopted at the NCAFC’s conference on December 8th and 9th 2012 and amended on December 14th 2014, December 6th 2015 and January 15th 2017.

Section 1: What we stand for

We want schools, colleges, universities and research institutions and the work they do to be public, democratic, open and accessible to all, and to be oriented towards free enquiry, the needs and interests of society, and liberation from existing hierarchies and oppressions. We reject the idea that private profit, exploitation and marketization can bring the education system any benefit, and we unite to resist the neoliberal assault on education and research and to defend the concepts of education and research as social goods. This is inevitably an incomplete set of goals, but it forms our common ground as activists in education and research. We seek:

  • The abolition of all fees in higher and further education and the abolition of all student debt owed.
  • The reversal of all budget cuts to education and research.
  • An adequate maintenance grant to allow every student over 16 to live independently, out of poverty.
  • Free care services and additional maintenance support for every student with one or more dependents.
  • A living wage, a safe workplace, a live-able pension, holiday pay, sick pay and a maximum 35 hour week for every education and research worker, every apprentice and every intern, with an end to privatisation and outsourcing in our institutions.
  • Recognition of research students as workers as well as students, with associated rights to limited hours, minimum pay, healthy and safe workplaces, holidays, sick leave, academic freedom, and protection from harassment and unfair dismissal.
  • An end to racist, xenophobic and discriminatory treatment of international students. Abolish international fees, open the borders and end surveillance.
  • An academic environment that is feminist, pro-LBGTQ, anti-racist and anti-ableist, and that actively works against oppression and for inclusion.
  • Campuses safe from surveillance and harassment on grounds of religious and political beliefs. Police off our campuses, and an end to the use of education workers to enforce police and immigration controls and surveillance.
  • Academic freedom for all – freedom to teach, learn, enquire and publish must not be limited by, or subject to, the goals of the state or those of the owners of industry.
  • All schools, colleges and universities to be run not-for-profit under the full and democratic control of their staff, students and communities, including all currently private and profit-making institutions. The abolition of unelected, unaccountable management.
  • Knowledge open to all – our lectures, museums, books and journals must be accessible to all, free of charge, to create truly open, common and public educational institutions.
  • An end to investment in and links with exploitative, unsustainable and violent industries, including the arms trade – education must not be founded on the suffering of others.
  • These are to be funded using the wealth of those who can afford it: we demand progressive and fully enforced taxation of business and the rich, and the socialisation, under democratic student and worker control, of currently privatised elements of the education system.
  • Sustainable education and research – our institutions must function in an environmentally sustainable way, and their activity must contribute in theory and in practice to forward-thinking, socially just solutions to local and global threats and crises such as climate change.

We will organise in our classrooms, libraries and laboratories, and in our workplaces, our communities and the streets. We will organise through democratic assemblies at the lowest possible levels. We will demonstrate, we will lobby, and we will take direct action and industrial action. We will build solidarity and cooperation between students, workers and the unemployed. We will seek to dismantle, rather than perpetuate, existing oppressions and hierarchies within our communities and campaigns. We will not relent and we do not seek merely to register our dissatisfaction – we will settle for nothing less than free and emancipatory education and decent living standards for all, whether it takes months, or decades.

Section 2: Alteration

  1. Only conference or an Emergency Delegate Conference may amend the constitution (with a two-thirds majority) and standing orders (with a simple majority). Proposals to amend the constitution or standing orders should be circulated one week in advance of any conference in at least three of the following ways:
    1. Around the National Committee e-list
    2. Around the NCAFC discuss list
    3. On the NCAFC website
    4. In the NCAFC newsletter

Section 3: Membership and affiliations

A. Membership

  1. Membership of the NCAFC is open to all supporters of the campaign.
  2. Membership costs £1 per year, and members are expected to broadly support the Campaign’s activities.
  3. Being a member of the NCAFC give you the right to:
    1. Attend and speak at NCAFC Conferences
    2. Vote on proposals and in elections at NCAFC Conferences
    3. Stand for election at NCAFC Conference and its autonomous caucuses
    4. Submit amendments to proposals at NCAFC Conferences
    5. Members will also be put on a regular bulletin email, and will get updates from the campaign on a regular basis
  4. Membership lists and procedures are the responsibility of the National Committee
  5. Individual memberships may be terminated by a 2/3 majority of Conference or the NC if it is deemed necessary for the safety of others or basic functioning of the Campaign.

B. Affiliated Groups from Campuses and Departments

  1. Affiliation is open to any activist group on any campus or in any academic department in the UK who shares NCAFC’s purpose. (References to ‘anticuts groups’ in these documents are a catch-all term)
  2. Group affiliations pay an amount of money each year, even if symbolic, and are expected to generally support NCAFC’s projects.
  3. Being an affiliated group gives groups the right to:
    1. Submit proposals to NCAFC Conferences
    2. Attend Emergency Delegate Conferences if they are called
  4. Groups affiliate by submitting a list of at least 10 names and email addresses (if an HE campus) or at least 3 names and email addresses (if an FE campus, school or academic department). Affiliation must then be ratified by the National Committee, who have ultimate responsibility for affiliations.
  5. Affiliations may be terminated by a 2/3 majority of Conference or the NC if it is deemed necessary for the basic functioning of the Campaign.
  6. For the avoidance of doubt, this affiliation procedure is separate from the one for Student Unions in the Federation of Fighting Student Unions

Section 4: Structures of NCAFC

A. Conferences

Conferences are the sovereign body of NCAFC. Any member of NCAFC may attend and vote.

  1. Calling conferences
    1. The National Committee is responsible for calling conferences
    2. There shall be at least one annual conference per year and one summer conference per year, as laid out below
    3. Ordinarily, conference should be at least two days long
  2. Notice of conference
    1. Notice of conference must be given at least one month in advance online
    2. The NC will also make efforts to promote conferences by off-line methods, such as ringing around and producing leaflets and posters.
  3. Conference agenda setting
    1. The NC has ultimate responsibility for setting the agenda of conferences and other events, and ensuring their smooth and democratic running
    2. Ordinarily, this will be delegated to a working group
  4. Submission of proposals and motions
    1. A motions and proposals deadline must be set by the NC, or its delegated conference working group, ahead of conference
    2. Motions can be proposed by: local anti-cuts groups and other groups affiliated to NCAFC, the National Committee, or a group of at least seven NCAFC members.
    3. Any individual member of NCAFC has the right to submit amendments to motions and proposals
  5. Conference agenda composition
    1. Conference’s primary purpose is:
      1. To debate motions and constitutional amendments
      2. To elect a National Committee
      3. To host autonomous caucuses
      4. To provide a space for open discussion of NCAFC’s actions and strategy
    2. The NC will meet immediately after every conference.
    3. If the conference is two or more days long, there must be time given over to:
      1. Liberation caucuses, at least 45 minutes long – which cannot overlap with each other, or with any other conference business
      2. Regional and national caucuses, at least 45 minutes long
  6. Remitting: Conference may vote, by simple majority, to remit any matter to the National Committee. If this happens, the National Committee is vested with all the powers of conference on that matter
  7. Summer Conference
    1. In the months of June, July, August or September, NCAFC will hold a summer conference. This can be combined with another event (such as a training or gathering event) and will have the power to:
      1. To debate motions and constitutional amendments
      2. Fill vacant or inactive posts on the National Committee, including through caucuses
    2. Before the Summer Conference, NC members who are currently or are planning to become inactive in student activism are encouraged to resign so that their place can be refilled at the conference.

B. Committees:

NCAFC has one standing committee: the National Committee (NC)

  1. National Committee
    1. The NC is elected at conferences, and is responsible for co-ordinating NCAFC’s political work. It is the sovereign body between conferences.
    2. Members of the NC are expected to broadly support NCAFC’s projects.
  2. The National Committee consists of:
      1. 14 members, elected by single transferable vote (with 40% of the places reserved for women)
      2. 1 voting representative for each Liberation Campaign (which can be shared)
      3. 1 voting representative for each Region or Nation (which can be shared)
      4. 1 voting representative for each Section (which can be shared)
    1. Where a vote is shared, the representatives present must come to a majority view of how to vote; if not, they must abstain.
    2. Sections and Regions are self-organising groups, and exist once they are recognised by the NC.
    3. Any NCAFC member may attend NC meetings, and the NC can invite others if it wishes to. The NC can establish working groups of whoever it wants to take on various projects.
  3. Accountability of Committees
    1. Members of the National Committee are accountable to Conference, Emergency Delegate Conferences, their caucus, and to the NC itself. They can be removed:
      1. By the body that elected them
      2. By an Emergency Delegate Conference, or in a constituted caucus at an EDC
      3. In the case of the Block of 14, by a two-thirds vote of the NC, on the written request of 5 affiliated local groups.

C. Emergency Delegate conferences:

In periods of ‘national high struggle’, where a surge in the student movement is forming and needs to find direction and collective discussion, the NC shall call an emergency delegate conference to allow direct control for the grassroots.

  1. Calling Emergency Delegate Conferences
    1. Emergency delegate conferences can be called by a majority of the NC; or
    2. By a majority of affiliated local groups, providing that this is at least 10
  2. Attendance and voting at Emergency Delegate Conferences
    1. The National Committee shall set a delegate entitlement on the basis of student numbers FTE at the campus, NCAFC membership size, or on the basis of departmental and faculty level organising, or a combination of these.
    2. All delegates and all members of the NC except the Block of 14 may vote.
    3. All delegates must be openly selected by their campus group or departmental/faculty group
    4. Delegations from ‘not-yet’ affiliated anticuts groups may attend the Emergency Delegate Conference on the basis that their attendance is taken to mean affiliation
    5. The NC will ensure that transport and accommodation costs are not a barrier to attendance.
  3. Powers of Emergency Delegate Conferences
    1. EDCs can call any action, pass any proposal, and may amend the constitution
    2. EDCs can recall the Block of 14 and elect a new one, if there is a 2/3 majority
    3. EDCs shall have autonomous caucuses, and these can vote to recall and re-elect reps
    4. The NC is accountable to, and bound by, EDC

Section 5: Employment

  1. The National Committee may from time to time pay members of the NC, or of the campaign, in order to co-ordinate the campaign’s activities.
  2. The NC will ensure that any money used on staff is well-spent.
  3. The NC will ensure that anyone on a stipend is accountable and responsible.
  4. The NC will co-ordinate the decision with the Federation of Fighting Student Unions, and that any paid employment does not simply replicate student union staff
  5. The NC will ensure that paid employment for the NCAFC does not simply replicate employment by a political group within the NCAFC
  6. The NC will have regard for Liberation in its employment decisions.