National student demonstration 25 February

Submitted by martin on 16 January, 2009 - 9:08

The national student demonstration for free education on 25 February is being supported by NUS Women's Campaign, NUS LGBT campaign, twenty student unions and activists across the country. It will be attended by many hundreds if not thousands of student activists. In the year that the cap on top-up fees could be lifted, this action could not be more important - so bring a delegation from your college or university!

For more information, including about transport, or for model publicity, email studentdemo2009@gmail.com
For more see the website www.studentdemo2009.org.uk
For the Facebook event for the demo, see here.

NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION FOR FREE EDUCATION - WEDNESDAY 25 FEBRUARY 2009, LONDON

For more information, to find out about transport from your town or area, or to add your union or campaigning group's support, email studentdemo2009@gmail.com

* SCRAP ALL FEES - FREE EDUCATION FOR ALL
* A LIVING GRANT FOR EVERY STUDENT
* EDUCATION NOT PROFIT

Assembline from 12 noon at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1 (Russell Square or Euston or Goodge Street tube)

Supporters include:
NUS Women’s Campaign
NUS LGBT Campaign
University of Bradford Union
Union of UEA Students
Birkbeck College Students' Union
Essex University Students' Union
Coventry University Students' Union
University College London Union (indicative vote)
Aston Students' Guild
Staffordshire University Students' Union
Cranfield Students' Association
Wadham College Students' Union
Edinburgh University Students' Association (indicative vote)
Goldsmiths College Students' Union
Dunstable College Students' Union
University of Sussex Students' Union
University of East London Students' Union
Middlesex University Students' Union
Cambridge University Students' Union
SOAS Students' Union
Southampton University Students' Union
Huddersfield University SU LGBT society
Education Not for Sale
Sussex Not for Sale
Another Education is Possible
Campaign to Defeat Fees

**

SUPPORTING STATEMENT

No to fees – A living grant for every student – Tax the rich to fund education
For a national demonstration at the start of 2009

This academic year could see the lifting of the ÂŁ3,000 cap on tuition fees in higher education. Meanwhile, student debt and poverty are already spiralling, students face soaring costs of living, and the market dominates our education system from school to college to university.

After years of underfunding for post-16 education, the Government brought in tuition fees and then top-up fees. Worsening the already existing inequalities in higher education, fees are greatly accelerating the development of a competitive market between universities, with a tier of well-funded and prestigious institutions and another of less prestigious, underfunded ones. Along with the absence of decent student grants, they rule out the possibility of seriously expanding access, force most students who do get to university into debt and push many into casualised, low-paid jobs. Lifting the cap will, of course, make all this worse. Meanwhile most further education students have always paid fees and never had grants.

Top-up fees will be in the headlines this year, but fees are not the only issue. Even those who do not have to pay fees, such as Scottish students and FE students under 19, do not receive a living grant and are also forced into poverty and debt. Nursing, midwifery and other students who have to work as a large part of their course receive a bursary as an on-the-cheap substitute for a living wage.

International students are exploited to subsidise higher education institutions through higher and higher fees, while postgraduate study is limited to a small elite through a more and more restrictive funding system.

Women, black, LGBT and disabled students are affected and disadvantaged disproportionately by the growth in student poverty and debt.

As our education is commodified and most institutions are run more and more for profit, the wages, conditions and rights of our teachers and other education workers are also coming under attack.

We also note that, as the economic crisis bites, the Government has announced that it plans to cut student numbers and further limit eligibility for grants.

We believe that NUS is allowing the Government to get away with these deeply unpopular policies. This year, despite the review of the cap on fees, NUS is not organising a national demonstration – not even one for its needlessly bureaucratic “alternative funding model”, let alone the abolition of fees and living grants that students need. Its “day of action” – which took place on 5 November, the day after the US presidential election, hardly the best time to get attention – was a start, but totally inadequate.

That is why we, students’ union officers and student activists, are seeking to organise a national demonstration in the first three months of 2009, around the following demands:

* No raising of the cap on top-up fees; halt and reverse the growth in international students’ fees; abolish all fees in HE and FE – free education for all;
* A living grant for every student over 16 – at least £150 a week; and a living wage for nursing and other students who have to work as part of their course;
* Stop and reverse marketisation in our schools, colleges and universities – tax the rich and corporations to fund education.

We are seeking to organise this demonstration in alliance with trade union activists fighting back against wage freezes, job cuts and privatisation; with other anti-cuts and privatisation campaigns; with young people’s and children’s organisations; and with others who believe that education should be open to all as a human right, not a privilege open to a minority based on wealth.

We call on NUS and autonomous campaigns within NUS to support the demonstration.

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