50 campuses are now taking part in the national week of action, which will see the biggest wave of opposition to the government’s plans to sell off student loans yet. Rallies, protests, creative direct action and mass petitioning is expected to sweep across campuses.
The week of action will end with a ‘debt in’ protest outside the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills on Friday 7 February. Students will be assembling at SOAS from 12noon to march down to BIS to 2pm. Join the facebook event here.
Below we share the motion that the NUS National Executive passed in support of the national week of action.
Stop the privatisation of student debt
NUS NEC Believes:
1. Building the movement to stop the government selling off the student loan book to private companies is an urgent priority.
2. George Osborne confirmed during the Autumn Statement in 2013 that the government is going ahead with plans to sell off student loans taken out between 1998-2012. According to Mark Russell, chief executive of the Shareholder Executive, which manages a string of taxpayers’ assets, the student loans will start to be sold off in 2014.
3. In November the government sold off student loans worth £900m to a private debt collector for the bargain basement price of £160m, in a deal which included all the student loans taken out before 1998.
4. There is widespread concern that handing over our student debt to private companies will lead to an increase in the financial burdens placed on students and graduates, as the new owners of the debts hike up interest rates in order to make more profits. These concerns are well placed given the fact that:
- A secret report for the government has revealed, in order to make sure the student loan book is profitable for private companies the cap on interest for repayments would need to be increased or removed all together. This proposal would cause student debt to soar and represents a retrospective hike in tuition fees.
- The Minister for Universities, David Willetts, made clear to a parliamentary select committee last June that it is very easy for the rate of interest to be hiked up: “In the letter that every student gets there are some words to the effect that government reserve the right to change the terms of the loans.”
5. In light of this, David Willett’s reassurances that the terms and conditions on student loans will not be changed following the privatisation of the student loan book ring hollow.
NUS NEC further believes:
1. The growing movement to stop the sell off of student loans must be built and fully supported.
2. The Student Assembly Against Austerity has called a week of action against the privatisation of student debt from Monday 3 – Friday 7 February 2014. At the time of writing 45 campuses have signed up to take part in the week of action which will include a broad range of campus based creative actions, protests and petitioning. On Friday 7 February to week of action will end with a ‘debt in’ outside the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills which is responsible for selling off the loans.
3. An Early Day Motion (Sale of Student Loans 542) has been put down in Parliament to gather political opposition to the plans to privatise student loans with 50 MPs signed up so far.
4. On Budget Day, 19 March, the Student Assembly Against Austerity will be organising a national day of action to stop the sell-off of student loans, oppose education cuts and the wider austerity offensive.
NUS NEC Resolves:
1. To support and promote the national week of action to stop the privatisation of student debt which is taking place from Monday 3 – Friday 7 February 2014.
2. Encourage students to lobby their MPs to sign up to Early Day Motion 542 on the ‘Sale of Student Loans’.
3. Support the national day of action on Budget Day, 19 March, called by the Student Assembly Against Austerity to oppose the sell off of student loans, education cuts and the wider austerity offensive.