The Student Assembly Against Austerity had a high profile at the Conference – we gave out 1,000 copies of our newsletter (special edition for the Conference), over 70 people attended our fringe meeting on the first day and we built strong support for the student bloc of People’s Assembly Against Austerity national demonstration on Saturday 20 June.
The Conference voted overwhelmingly for policies to fight austerity, racist scapegoating, tuition fees and the cost of living crisis. A new leadership of NUS, which is committed to delivering action to defend students was also elected, in what has been described as a massive breakthrough for the anti-austerity left.
Over the past year the Student Assembly Against Austerity has worked with other organisations including the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and the Young Greens to organise a huge movement for free education, including the 10,000 strong national demonstration in November 2014. The NUS voted by a majority of 90% to continue this fight for free education, in an effort to emulate the success of Germany’s student movement, which won the battle to scrap tuition fees last year. The motion was proposed by newly elected NUS Vice President Further Education, Shakira Martin.
Whilst there was not enough time to discuss whether NUS should organise a national demonstration for free education and against student poverty there was very broad support for the idea, which the Student Assembly helped to gather in advance of the Conference through this statement signed by 150 student leaders. It is expected that the next NUS National Executive meeting will call for a student demonstration in the autumn term. The Student Assembly Against Austerity will be using doing all it can to work with the new leadership of NUS and anti-cuts groups on campuses across Britain to build the fightback.