This is a statement of the Student Assembly Against Austerity National Committee, published on Tuesday 17 January. Add your name to support the statement by filling out the form below.
International students are in the firing line. The Tory government’s racist, xenophobic agenda is fuelling an anti-international student agenda which poses a threat to our vibrant and diverse campuses and risks seriously damaging the UK’s Higher Education system and the economy.
The Student Assembly Against Austerity strongly supports our universities and colleges being inclusive, open and welcoming of students from across the globe. We are proud that our campuses are increasingly international hubs where a diverse student and staff population comes together to enhance our knowledge, develop our understanding and broaden our horizons. We therefore oppose all attacks on international students and staff which threat the openness and vitality of our campuses.
We are concerned about the government’s plans, which were announced at Tory Party Conference last year, to introduce a two tier system in which there are “tougher rules” for students enrolling in “lower quality courses.”
It has also been revealed that the Home Office is considering cutting international student numbers at UK universities by nearly half, slashing the numbers from 300,000 to 170,000 students.
The aftermath of the Brexit referendum has seen a number of negative consequences for international students as well as home students. Racist and xenophobic hate crime rose by an average of 37% in the two months following the referendum and the authorities have subsequently stopped publishing the data on this.
The stories behind this statistic are harrowing. One student, Bartosz Milewski, for example was unable to return to university last September after being stabbed in the neck with a broken bottle for speaking Polish.
We are concerned that students from the EU are already feeling deterred from studying in Britain after the vote – with Cambridge University reporting that their data shows a drop of 17% in applications from EU students for the next academic year.
There is a real danger that the final terms of Brexit, following the Tories’ negotiations with the EU leaders, will be that EU students will have to pay higher tuition fees in the future, as international students from outside the EU already have to pay. There is also a danger that immigration controls will be introduced with EU students needing to apply for student visas in order to study in the UK in the future.
We stand in solidarity with all international students and call for:
1. International students – from both within and outside of the EU – to be taken out of the government’s immigration statistics. International students should not be used as a political football and bargaining chip.
2. All EU nationals – including university staff and students – to retain their rights to live, study and work here. We believe all international students should have the right to stay and work in the UK. Freedom of movement is a workers right and immigration benefits the economy and society as a whole.
3. An end to the politics of racist and xenophobic scapegoating. This is directly fueling an increase in hate crime.
Our NHS is in crisis – we’ve got to step up the fight to save it from the destructive and dangerous cuts of successive Tory governments.
#OurNHS - National Demonstration: Saturday 4 March 2017
* For a fully funded, publicly owned, NHS & social care service
* No cuts, no closures, no privatisation
* End the pay restraint for NHS staff
Assemble: 12pm, Tavistock Square, London
March to Parliament
Join the facebook event here and invite all your friends.
Called by Health Campaigns Together & The People's Assembly Against Austerity.
Check out what's going on in your area and get involved, and send us details of events happening in your area to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download artwork here.
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We must fight to save the NHS from destruction. The threat is real. It is happening now. Hospitals, GPs, mental health, ambulance and community services are on their knees.
Private companies are gaining an ever greater foothold within the NHS. Years of pay restraint has seen the value of NHS staff salaries reduce by 14% since 2010. The Government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans are a smokescreen for a massive programme of hospital and community service closures, and are its latest instrument for privatisation.
The NHS is one of our greatest achievements. We cannot allow it to be undermined and ultimately destroyed. Join us on Saturday 4 March and send a clear message to this Government.
Transport is being arranged from across the country.
“The NHS will last as long as there are folk with the faith to fight for it.” Nye Bevan - founder of the NHS
www.healthcampaignstogether.com | www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk
On Thursday 12 January the Junior Doctors Alliance, The People’s Assembly Against Austerity and Health Campaigns Together are joining forces for an emergency demonstration: ‘HUNT MUST GO – RESCUE OUR NHS’.
6pm Thursday 12 January at the Department of Health. Join the facebook event here.
The NHS crisis has reached a new level in the last few days as the Red Cross declare a humanitarian crisis in our NHS and were forced to intervene.
This Government has created the crisis in the NHS. Hospitals are underfunded, social care has collapsed which puts more pressure on hospitals, staff are overworked and conditions are deteriorating. The Governments drive to privatise the NHS will only make this situation worse.
We must take action to defend our NHS or we risk losing it forever. Join us at the Deparment of Health to demand Jeremy Hunt's resignation and that the Government intervene immediatly to put an end to the crisis in our NHS.
Education is under attack like never before. FE colleges have closed, jobs have been lost and students are being forced deeper and deeper into debt by a government happy to see companies making profit off the back of student poverty. It’s time to take a stand.
The Student Assembly Against Austerity will be joining tens of thousands of students on Saturday 19 November to march for free education as part of NUS and the UCU’s national ‘United For Education’ national demonstration.
Join the main facebook event here.
Check out the NUS website for transport details and materials to help you build the demonstration on your campus.
Come along to the Progressive Students National Forum 2016 which this year is on the theme of ‘Students For Jeremy Corbyn – fighting austerity, racism and war’.
Saturday 15 October, 10am – 5.30pm
Taking place at ‘Student Central’ on Malet Street in central London.
Register your FREE place here.
* Shelly Asquith, NUS Vice President Welfare
* Barbara Ntumy, Deputy President of London Met SU & NUS National Executive
* Shakira Martin, NUS Vice President Further Education
* Joss Knight, Student Assembly Against Austerity
* James Schneider, Momentum National Organiser
* Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition
* Kate Hudson, CND
* Sabby Dhalu, Stand Up To Racism
* Fiona Edwards, Student Assembly Against Austerity & Student Broad Left
* And many more!
For the full line up and details of this year’s Progressive Students National Forum check out the facebook event here.
Sunday 2 October | National Demonstration
Tories Out, Austerity Has Failed
Demand the alternative: Invest Don’t Cut, Nationalise Our Services, Defend Workers Rights, No To Racist Scapegoating
Assemble: 11.30am, Victoria Square, Birmingham
March to East Side Park for rally.
Click here to find your nearest transport.
Share and invite your friend to the facebook event here.
At Theresa May's first Tory Party Conference as Prime Minister we will be holding a mass demonstration & a major conference to say we demand an alternative to ‘Austerity Britain’
We face insecure employment, low pay, and a drive to privatise our public services. There’s a growing housing crisis, our NHS is going through the biggest funding squeeze since it’s foundation, and our Education system is over-stretched. Local services have been shut down as huge budget cuts are forced on councils.
Big business, corporations and the richest are squireling away money in offshore tax havens, awarding themselves bonuses, while immigrants are blamed for problems they had no hand in creating. And everyone else is told to tighten their belts.
We will demand investment in public services, in infrastructure, and in decent jobs for all. An end to scapegoating of migrants which divides our comunities and whips up racism.
Today the National Union of Students and the University College Union (UCU) announced they will hold a national demonstration on Saturday 19 November 2016 to stop the government’s attacks on higher and further education.
The demonstration will demand that the Tories scrap their plans to increase tuition fees yet again and call for the huge cuts facing our colleges and universities to be stopped.
The Tory government is weak, divided and can be defeated. The anti-austerity movement has pushed back a number of government attacks over the past year including tax credit cuts, attacks on disabled people and the academisation of our schools. A mass, vibrant movement of students and staff can defeat the government’s attacks on education too.
Barbara Ntumy, Deputy President of London Met University Students' Union, NUS National Executive and Student Assembly Against Austerity National Committee said:
“The Tories’ attacks on students and education have been relentless. We are graduating with more than £40,000 worth of debt, all grants and financial support have been scrapped and we have seen cuts on a massive scale. The government’s plans to increase tuition fees above £9,000 and their plans to impose huge cuts to our colleges and universities are completely unacceptable and must be defeated.
“The student movement stands for a properly funded free education system which gives everyone a chance to succeed and contribute to our society and economy. Funding education is an investment in the future.
“At London Met University Students’ Union we are excited that NUS will be joining forces with the UCU for a national demonstration for free education and against the cuts. We will be mobilising to the demo and look forward to joining tens of thousands from all over Britain."
The Student Assembly Against Austerity will be at the forefront of mobilising as many students as possible to attend this vital national demonstration. If you would like to get involved please email the Student Assembly Against Austerity on firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Shelly Asquith, NUS Vice President Welfare - first published in the Guardian on 1st June 2016.
As the government formalises its plans for another rise in tuition fees, the student movement stands at a crossroads: will we force the government to backtrack, or will we descend into division?
In the past few weeks, several student unions have held referendums on their affiliation to the National Union of Students (NUS). Most have voted to stay, but we must take on board their urgent concerns about our ability to fight for students’ interests. This week, six more universities will hold ballots: Oxford, Bath Spa, Essex, York, Nottingham and Durham.
The NUS has a proud campaigning history. Many know of our role in the battle to boycott apartheid in South Africa. Closer to home, we were one of the only unions to beat Margaret Thatcher. In the early 1970s, when she was education secretary, the NUS thwarted her politically-motivated drive to weaken student unions.
That campaigning spirit is now back at the forefront of the NUS. Since I was a first-year student at art school in 2010, we have moved from condemning student activists to celebrating and supporting them. We have moved from distancing ourselves from academic staff on strike to bolstering their actions. In 2010, the NUS president urged the government to cut student grants as an alternative to raising tuition fees; now we have a president-elect who has set out a vision for universally free education. Today, as in the 1970s, the NUS is poised to build a broad coalition in defence of education.
But victories won’t come without a national, coordinated response to the government. No single student union could have forced a U-turn on cuts to disabled students’ allowance or student deportations. Working with others, the NUS did both.
In our 94 years of existence, we have strengthened students’ rights across the board. In the workplace, by increasing the apprentice minimum wage; in housing, by winning council tax exemptions for students; and in the classroom, advocating a review of the Prevent duty. Demands like these must come nationally, with the legitimacy of more than 600 student unions and 7 million members behind us, and we must now go further still.
Make no mistake, this is about more than students’ interests. The universities minister, Jo Johnson, has set out his plan to remodel higher education in the image of the free market. He wants a two-tier education system, allowing “elite institutions” to charge higher fees while starving struggling universities of funds.
Meanwhile, our academics face ever tougher pay and working conditions, driving some out of the sector altogether. Just last week, they staged a strike to highlight the urgency of the situation.
At its best, the NUS has joined with others to stand up for a fairer society for all. We desperately need to recover this fine tradition. The same government that would threaten education has gone to war with junior doctors and tabled a trade union bill that undermines workers’ ability to organise collectively for their rights. Much of what we cherish in this country is at risk and we need to strengthen, not weaken, our coalition for a better society. Anything else would be shooting ourselves in the foot.
If we are to beat plans to increase student debt, we need every student union, at every college and university, to play a part: in signing statements, taking to the streets and refusing to play ball with the government’s data collection that will be used to raise tuition fees. Rather than retreating into apolitical irrelevance, we need to mobilise our members.
We will take no lessons on democracy from a government whom only 24% of those eligible voted for. We must renew and engage our membership like no leadership has done in a generation, in order to make our response as effective as possible. The last thing we need is to give the government an excuse to discredit and ignore us.
With a new leadership dedicated to returning to our campaigning roots, the future can be a bright one for the NUS. The choice facing students now is stark. In the 1970s, Thatcher’s chosen strategy to weaken student activism was to force an opt-in policy on student unions to shrink their membership. It was a clever strategy.
Now, some students risk making things easier for the government by freely choosing to leave their unions. Every vote to disaffiliate from the NUS is a gift to the government. Every vote to strengthen the NUS is a signal of our determination to defend our education.
The #BursaryOrBust campaign have called another march against the cuts to the NHS bursary.
#BursaryOrBust are a grassroots, student led campaign and they need the support of all students. March with us for NHS bursaries and for the FUTURE OF THE NHS!
Join the facebook event here.
NHS bursaries are a LIFELINE for many - the cuts will affect podiatrists, physiotherapists, dental nurses, speech and language therapists, radiographers, occupational therapists, operating department practitioners, midwives, nurses, dieticians and other AHP's.
We, NHS students, work up to 50% in clinical placements (full time) which is why the bursary is fundamental to us because working part time is very difficult. We are not asking for special treatment, we simply want to keep our financial support in order to be healthcare professionals. If the NHS bursary is cut, it will mean only those who can afford to pay will become healthcare professionals. We strongly believe that a diverse range of people in healthcare professions is important.
We believe that less people will want to train, or retrain, to be healthcare professionals. For nursing, the evidence shows that less equals higher mortality rates. There is currently a deficit of 24,000 nurses which is set to continue to grow. An apprenticeship route has also been proposed for nursing which would mean that those training would recieve approximately £3 an hour. We feel that this is incredibly unfair.
In Osborne's Autumn spending review, it was revealed that NHS bursaries would be cut and replaced with a loan system. Furthermore, with a freeze on loan repayment thresholds and a rigid Agenda for Change pay scale, NHS students who qualify into their professions will be dealt with further cuts in their pay. The NHS bursary campaigners support free education for all.
The imposition of a loan system is an attempt at breaking the tie between students and the NHS to pave the way for the complete dismantling of the health service in order to privatise and profit. NHS bursary cuts are simply the tip of the iceberg.
Please join us!
Supported by: The Peoples Assembly, the Student Assembly Against Austerity, DPAC, King's College London Student Union, Unite, NUS, Unison,the RCN and GMB!
The government have announced plans to increase tuition fees yet again. As the new NUS President Malia Bouattia makes clear in this article, originally published in the Guardian, the student movement will fight this disastrous plan. We need to build a mass, vibrant campaign to force another Tory u-turn.
The government announced this week its plans to allow elite universities to increase tuition fees yet again. Students are already forced to pay up to an obscene £9,000 per year, making England one of the most expensive places to study in the world. As a result, students are graduating with an average debt of more than £40,000. The government’s claims that “student choice” and “competition” are drivers of better education will not carry much weight on our university campuses. That is why the NUS will be fighting with all its strength to demand it ditches this disastrous plan.
This latest threat to increase fees follows more than six years of attacks. The marketisation agenda that this and previous governments have pursued has led not only to higher fees, but also to course closures and cuts to the wages and working conditions of staff. It is clear to students that none of this represents progress – especially for disadvantaged groups which often rely on and value exactly the things that are lost when education is viewed as a business.
We have to think hard about what the ideology of marketisation does to our student communities. Allowing “the best” universities to increase fees will deepen the divide and entrench a two-tier higher education system – based on wealth and prestige, not learning and opportunity. How can education be a way to create better life opportunities when working-class students are set back from the start?
The new transparency duties on institutions – including monitoring of data related to disadvantaged groups – should be celebrated. But the government and universities have long failed to comply with their own duties under equality legislation by assessing the impact of such changes. We only need look at recent changes such as the removal of maintenance grants and proposals to cut the NHS bursary, disproportionately impacting black, female and LGBT+ students, and the reduction in Disabled Students’ Allowance. This government persistently turns its back on those who need the most support.
Students’ unions want to encourage communities of learners, not a competitive market. We want our academics to be tutors not suppliers, and we want to be valued as learners not consumers. I’ve seen first-hand the kind of effect this has on students, struggling to pay the cost of rent, bills and childcare; students whose mental health is severely affected by the isolation, stress and financial burden these cuts create.
Education is a fundamental human right and it should be free – at every level. Some say this is unrealistic, but the idea of free education is gaining traction. Germany scrapped its tuition-fee system just two years ago in response to students, a victory we hope to emulate here in the UK.
It is not just higher education that is under fire. In the coming year, further education is facing the biggest attacks it has ever seen. The government’s “area reviews” will result in colleges merged, courses cut and huge job losses.
For me, it is obvious we want to create a system in which everyone can thrive, and our attention has to be on those who fall prey to inequality in education and discrimination in the labour market.
As David Cameron and his cabinet of millionaires sit in their Westminster offices with little regard for students, they should remember this: every single one of them started university when it was free of charge, and at a time when poorer students had a grant to support them as they studied. As we can see, they are doing very well as a result of the education they received – the same education these proposals will deny to so many others.