NCAFC Calls Mobilisation Over Debt: Organise in your area now!

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In June, the government announced plans to sell off student debt to private companies. Because there is so much student debt, it is unprofitable to own, so to sweeten the deal, the government is considering upping the repayment rates. This would be the equivalent of a huge and retroactive stealth hike in tuition fees, all in the name of an exclusive, market model of education.

In an open letter, we have explicitly targeted the LibDems and demanded that they rule it out: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/13/nick-clegg-universities-direct-action

NCAFC is calling for national and localised action against the sell-off of the student loan book. On top of direct action, NCAFC will seek to create a new coalition of social movements and trade unions to fight the sale of the student loan book by mobilising students, workers and graduates.

What can you do?
• Call an organising meeting on your campus around October 1st, the day when our deadline for assurances runs out. NCAFC London has already organised one here:http://www.facebook.com/events/168905169966158/
• Plan embarrassing stunts and disruptive direct against your local politicians – Lib Dems and others – if they fail to declare that they are against the debt sale and the Lobbying Bill
• Tell the companies who fund the Lib Dems to stop funding them
• Make sure that you and any organisation you are involved in joins the new coalition against the loan book sale. NCAFC will be calling a meeting in the coming weeks

The Facebook event for this mobilisation is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/212736578888544/

Whatever you get up to, please let us know so we can publicise it, by emailing the NCAFC national committee on [email protected], same goes for if you need help or resources!

PRESS RELEASE: NCAFC Launches Major Campaign Against The Debt Selloff

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For press inquiries call 07964791663, 07703114546 or 07540248868

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts has launched a major new campaign against moves to make every student since 1998 pay more for their student loans. In June, the government announced plans to sell off student debt to private companies. Because there is so much student debt, it is unprofitable to own, so to sweeten the deal, the government is considering upping the repayment rates. This would be the equivalent of a huge and retroactive stealth hike in tuition fees, all in the name of an exclusive, market model of education.

In an open letter to the Liberal Democrats published on the Guardian website on the eve of their Party conference, NCAFC is demanding that the party rule out the sale of the loan book and withdraw its support for the controversial ‘gagging bill’. We have set a deadline of October 1st to receive assurances, and if we do not hear back, we will support a campaign of embarrassment and disruption aimed at any company or political party complicit in the privatisation of student debt.

On top of direct action, NCAFC will seek to create a new coalition of social movements and trade unions to fight the sale of the student loan book by mobilising students, workers and graduates.

Dear Nick,

In 2010, you were the darling of the student vote: you seemed to many to represent a new politics. What a difference three years make. Tomorrow, the Liberal Democrats will begin their annual conference in Glasgow – and, having ignored and trampled on it for years, you will be asking your members to ditch their support for free higher education. If the Liberal Democrats do not now rule out attempts to raise the rate of repayment on student loans, we will mobilise against them.

The damage that the coalition has done to education since it came to power in 2010 is unparalleled. With an electoral mandate to do precisely the opposite, and in just three years, you have tripled home undergraduate fees, and made Britain’s worst-ever cut to public university funding. We are witnessing the transformation of a public service into a luxury: fees for postgraduate and international students are hitting £30,000 for some courses; and student accommodation regularly costs more than many students get in loans. And when protest threatened your position, you stood back while police beat students off the streets and threatened us with rubber bullets.

In spring 2012, and under pressure from student mobilisations, your government withdrew the higher education bill and then, with no parliamentary mandate or scrutiny, proceeded to implement the higher education white paper anyway. Across the country, your policies have resulted in cuts to bursaries, sweeping course cuts – especially in universities with a higher proportion of working class students – and relentless attacks on staff through privatisation and outsourcing. Last week, the University and Colleges Union (UCU) reported that half of universities are now using zero-hours contracts for lecturers.

 

Because of your actions, university education in Britain is becoming an even more volatile, multi-tiered sector. Being a student is a precarious, money-driven, and often simply inaccessible experience. In your relentless quest for power, you have pushed an ideologically driven agenda of marketisation at the expense not only of the ideal of accessible universal education, but at the practical expense of institutional stability, academic integrity and human dignity.

Just as it seemed that it couldn’t get any worse, Danny Alexander announced that the government will sell off the student loan book in 2015. Student debt is a very unattractive prospect for investors, as there is so much of it that it will never be repaid – so in order to make it profitable, the government may end up changing the conditions on already existing student loans. Not content with attacking current and future generations, you have decided to pursue a policy that would attack every student since 1998.

The Liberal Democrats have now backed the transparency of lobbying, non-Party campaigning, and trade union administration bill, which is being roundly denounced by almost every third sector body and trade union as a sinister attempt to gag independent organisations in campaigning around political parties in election periods. Disgracefully, you are hiding behind restrictive and authoritarian legislation in order to avoid being held accountable for your years of betrayal.

We have no interest in stroking your ego, playing party politics, or getting you votes. Every major political party is now complicit in fees and privatisation in universities, and if there was only one impact of the growth of the student movement in the past few years, it has been that your betrayal of education and your fire sale of public services will be written on your political gravestone in 2015. The Lib Dems have lost 35% of their membership since 2010, and are running at an annual deficit of £411,000.

We demand a written guarantee that you will block the sale of student debt and rule out any detrimental changes to loan repayments; and we demand that you withdraw your support for the lobbying bill. If we do not receive assurances to this effect by 1 October , we will support direct action in the autumn term targeted against any company or political party complicit in the privatisation of the loan book.

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts will now build a broad coalition of activist groups, trade unions and social movements to mobilise students, workers and graduates against the sale of the student loan book, with the aim of building action nationally in early 2014.

Press Statement – Police Violence and Vote on Tuition Fee Increase

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts utterly condemns the violence inflicted on demonstrators by the police on the 9th of December national demonstration in central London and reiterate that the passing of the bill on the tuition fee increase will not deter, nor discourage future actions.

The coalition government managed to pass the tuition fee increase by 21 votes only – a sign of how weak the government is and that it can be beaten.  Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, suffered a huge blow to his leadership policies as 21 of his MPs rebelled against the tuition fee increase.

The resistance will continue in the new year. The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, as well as thousands of students across the country, will not give in until these cuts and fee increases are stopped.

Mounted police charging and ‘kettling’ of protesters are disgusting attacks on people’s right to protest and cannot be justified. The demonstration was militant but good natured as thousands assembled in Parliament square. The police adopted a hands-off approach until around 15.30h when ‘kettling’ began, followed by increasingly violent assaults on students.

The police attacked protesters, journalists and even a demonstrator in a wheel chair, dragging him across the ground. Many people were hospitalised and at the time of writing (23.30h) many people were still contained in Westminster, a cruel form of collective punishment for defying the government.