Tag Archive for Socialist Students

Urgent: Solidarity needed with South African students

The enormous #feesmustfall movement that swept South Africa in the autumn has inspired students around the world and was able to score a substantial victory against the ANC government. Below is a letter written by student socialists in South Africa, describing the #outsourcingmustfall campaign which has developed out of this. The letter is a request for solidarity from students there, and for assistance with the setting up of the new Socialist Youth Movement in South Africa. We are asking Socialist Students societies to urgently raise this issue in students unions and to do all they can to help provide this much needed assistance.

This call is given added urgency by the shocking news of the abduction of an #outsourcingmustfall activist. For details of how to arrange any donations from students unions or societies please fill in a ‘join’ form on this site, leaving contact details, and a comment explaining that you wish to support this solidarity appeal. We will then get in touch directly.

» Read more..

Fight the cuts at Birmingham University

by Birmingham Socialist Students

On Wednesday the 16th of March, the second consultation about the restructuring of the Birmingham Modern Languages department took place.
The first consultation meeting attracted only a handful of students after they were given just 24 hours notice from the University. Yet on the back of a one-thousand-strong petition in support of an open letter from a Languages student, this meeting filled an entire lecture room with students demanding clear answers. » Read more..

NUS conference report

Last year at NUS conference support for free education passed by a whisker, overturning a decade of opposition. This year, 90% of delegates voted to back free education. The right-wing was not confident to challenge anti-austerity ideas. Unfortunately, bureaucratic manoeuvring by the leadership ensured no concrete plans for action were put in place. NUS conference didn’t even discuss whether we should call a national demonstration in the autumn. The left won 4 out of the 5 Vice-President positions, the first time we’ve taken a majority of those in two decades.

  • Piers Telemacque – Society & Citizenship
  • Shakira Martin – Further Education
  • Shelly Asquith – Welfare
  • Sorana Vieru – Higher Education

Labour Students lost every Full-Time Officer position they went for. Socialist Students member Ben Mayor alongside Courtney Robinson (President of Belfast Met College – Northern Ireland’s biggest student union) stood for the national executive (Block of 15) with the results announced on Thursday 30th April.

Ian Pattison
Socialist Students national chair

More analysis to follow soon…

Socialist Students leads in Leeds

Marching for free education past Leeds University & Notre Dame Sixth Form, photo by Jonny Dickens

Marching for free education past Leeds University & Notre Dame Sixth Form, photo by Tanis Belsham-Wray

Check out our fantastic video of the march itself

Aggie Chaplin (Sheffield Hallam) and Iain Dalton (Socialist Students Yorkshire)

Socialist Students members organised a march for free education of around 150 in Leeds on 6 March. Students and young workers were attracted from across Yorkshire.

Donations from trade unions, including lecturers’ union UCU and transport union RMT, supplied vital funds to produce leaflets. Local trade unionists assisted students in stewarding the march. Bakers’ union BFAWU even sent Sarah Woolley, a member of their executive, to speak on our platform.

Sarah, who is a local Greggs worker, linked zero-hour contracts to student fees and debt. As she commented: “You shouldn’t have to have a dad who went to Eton to get a university degree!”

Sixth-form student Lily Green addresses the starting rally outside Leeds University Union, photo by Jonny Dickens

Sixth-form student Lily Green addresses the starting rally outside Leeds University Union, photo by Jonny Dickens

Mary Finch, University of Leeds student and one of the event’s organisers, also spoke. She is standing to be her student union’s education officer. Real students’ representatives don’t just sit in an office: they get out on the streets and organise.

Lily Green is a sixth former and Socialist Students member from Huddersfield. She spoke brilliantly on the disastrous effects of marketising education.

Sam Morecroft, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield, represented the anti-casualisation campaign run by UCU. He highlighted the plight of university teachers paid an exploitative hourly wage. He also stressed the importance of a united front of students and workers in fighting education privatisation.

One of the placards on the demo expresses what is facing large numbers of graduates, photo by Jonny Dickens

One of the placards on the demo expresses what is facing large numbers of graduates, photo by Jonny Dickens

Many speakers criticised Labour’s pathetic pledge to reduce tuition fees to ‘only’ £6,000 a year. In this context, it was significant that the only speaker for an electoral group was Megan Ollerhead.

Megan is a University of York student organiser. She is also a prospective parliamentary candidate for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). Megan called for students to support TUSC as a union-backed electoral alternative campaigning to abolish all fees and cuts. She also explained that “whatever combination of colours gets in this May, it’s still going to be the same flavour … We need to continue to organise events like this.”

Socialist Students members worked hard to build this event, and throughout the demonstration successfully engaged with students and workers alike. Quite a lot joined the march along the route, including a big group of students from Notre Dame sixth form.

Mary Finch addresses the final rally on behalf of Leeds for Free Education, photo by Jonny Dickens

Mary Finch addresses the final rally on behalf of Leeds for Free Education, photo by Jonny Dickens

This was an excellent starting point for further action from the free education movement throughout the country. It shows once again that Socialist Students is the group on campuses that gets things done, even when the National Union of Students (NUS) is dragging its heels.

Check out our fantastic video of the march itself

£6k fees will still mean piles of student debt: join the fight for free education

Socialist Students is organising a day of action on 4 March, calling for free education, in protests which follow Labour’s announcement that they will support a reduction in fees to £6,000 a year. While some students have cautiously welcomed what might (if actually implemented) be a very small step in the right direction, this pledge doesn’t go anywhere near far enough. Even with fees reduced to £6k, students would still be facing up to £40,000 of debt on graduation. Furthermore, like the Lib-Dems,  Labour have a record of breaking promises on education. After all, they were the party who introduced and then tripled fees to £3,000 despite promising not to. Indeed, it was the last Labour government which initiated the Browne review, used as the pretext for the hike to the current £9,000 levels. What’s more, there is no clear guarantee that any lowering of fees after the next election would not be accompanied by deep cuts to funding for universities, itself hitting students hard.

Socialist Students is organising a day of action 4 March demanding education that is fully funded, publicly owned, democratically run and universally free at all levels. We argue that the cost of funding free education should be met by taking wealth from the top of society – the super-rich 1%.

Details of campus protests will follow shortly:

Please send plans to socialistudents@gmail.com

 

“No room for unfair housing!” – Coventry Socialist Students protest against dodgy landlords

Coventry Socialist Students have been campaigning on the issue of sub-standard housing for months, so when we heard about a University-organised “housing fair” on Monday 21st, at which several landlords, letting agencies and student halls companies were advertising their services, we felt we had to protest! » Read more..

Lecturers and the Marking Boycott: Why Students Must Support Their Struggle

The University and College Union (UCU) representing lecturers has called a marking boycott in 69 universities from 6th November as the first step in their campaign to defeat proposed pension cuts. The attacks will see staff in pre-1992 universities receive lower benefits and less guaranteed income when they retire. If the employers are victorious, some workers will be left tens of thousands of pounds worse off in retirement. Roger Gray, Chief Investment Officer for the USS pension scheme in dispute, awarded himself 50% pay increase this year, taking his total salary to £900,000.

Sam Morecroft, Sheffield Socialist Students and Sheffield UCU Education Officer » Read more..

Demonstrate 19 November

NUS must back the protest!

On 16 September, the NUS NEC (National Executive Council) voted by a clear margin to formally endorse a student demonstration calling for free education, organised to take place on 19 November. Seven weeks later, NUS president Toni Pearce has released a statement saying that ‘NUS is not in a position to support this demonstration’. This is in direct contravention of the democratic decision taken by the NEC and represents an attempt by the right-wing leadership to ‘wriggle out’ of taking (or even supporting) any serious action to defend education against austerity.

» Read more..

Report: Biggest ever Yorkshire Socialist Students regional conference

Socialist Students regional conference in Yorkshire - Saturday 25th October
Socialist Students regional conference in Yorkshire – Saturday 25th October

by Lily Green, Greenhead College Socialist Students

Yorkshire’s Socialist Students regional conference was held in Leeds Beckett (Met) University on 25th October. Fellow socialists came together to discuss their views, learn more about Marx’s theories and debate issues from a socialist perspective.  Attendance was double what we had last year, 30 students from every campus around Yorkshire (with the exception of Hull who couldn’t make it!). Socialist Students groups are active on every university campus in Yorkshire. » Read more..

Report of NUS national Conference 2014

From 08-10 April, the National Union of Students (NUS) met for its annual national conference in Liverpool. This meeting came at a critical point in the student movement. The big debates taking place offered delegates a clear choice: do we want a national union that produces reports, sips tea with MPs and prepares its officers for high flying Labour party careers, or do we want one which organises a serious fight against the brutal austerity that’s devastating education? » Read more..