Before getting down to the business of how we can build a big, powerful and united student fight back, the Student Assembly Against Austerity National Committee firstly voted to formally recognize 8 new Student Assembly campus groups which have recently been set up at Worcester University, University of Kent Canterbury, City and Islington College, Manchester Metropolitan University, Bristol University, Liverpool University, Liverpool John Moores University and Wolverhampton University.
People’s Assembly Against Austerity demo: “inspiring, vibrant and young”
The National Committee then moved onto a discussion about the recent People’s Assembly 250,000 strong national demonstration on Saturday 20 June. The Student Assembly Against Austerity spent months mobilizing students to join the protest and with huge success: tens of thousands of students joined the demo on the day.
We discussed how inspiring it was to see so many vibrant blocs on the demo from the students, the Green Party, Labour Assembly Against Austerity, anti-war, anti-racist scapegoating, women, LGBT, disabled activists and many more.
For so many people this was there first ever national demo – showing that a new generation of activists are coming forward to take on a Tory government which is deeply unpopular with only 1 in 4 voters backing them at the General Election.
National Committee Members reported on the success of local protests they had helped to organise in cities such as Liverpool and Bristol which have been a really effective way of galvanizing local opposition to the Tories.
Responding to Osborne’s budget: launching a national campaign to #KeepTheGrants
We then went on to discuss the budget and what it means for students.
The Tories’ budget contained a “treble whammy” attack on students: the scrapping of maintenance grants; the lifting of the cap on tuition fees; and freezing the loan repayments threshold at £21,000 for the next 5 years.
These attacks will see students burdened with more debt and will shut down access to education for so many people from low-income backgrounds.
The Student Assembly Against Austerity National Committee agreed that our national campaigning focus over the next few months would be building a movement to #KeepTheGrants. As well as continuing our photo campaign and building the petition, we are also going to coordinate national days of action with the aim of getting dozens of local campus actions happening at the same time. Actions will include protests, ‘debt ins’, petitioning, lobbying MPs and other creative stunts.
We aim for the #KeepTheGrants campaign to build significant support and awareness on campuses about the Tories’ scrapping of maintenance grants, generate huge media coverage and ultimately put the Tories under enough pressure that they back down on the plans.
Protesting against the Tories
A big priority for the Student Assembly Against Austerity over the summer is going to be mobilizing students to protest outside Tory Party Conference in Manchester on Sunday 4 October. We are joining forces with trade unions, the People’s Assembly and anti-cuts groups to make this a huge demonstration.
We have called a student bloc for the protest and are setting up a new working group which all NUS Officers, local groups, Students’ Union representatives and individual student activists are welcome to join called ‘Students Protest Outside Tory Party Conference’. Please email us on email@example.com if you’d like to be part of the team that mobilises students to attend this vital protest.
The huge national protest on Sunday 4 October will be kicking off a national week of action that is going to be taking place outside of Tory Party Conference. The People’s Assembly Against Austerity is organising daily meetings and protests and we in the Student Assembly discussed doing some high profile, creative actions during this week of action – watch this space for details coming soon and how you can get involved!
Later in the autumn, on Wednesday 4 November, we will be protesting once again. We are joining forces with the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts to mobilise students to attend a national demo in London in support of free education.
Preparing for freshers week
With so many new Student Assembly Against Austerity groups set up across the country, getting ourselves ready for the new term in September is really important so we can attract new activists and build a strong grassroots movement.
At the National Committee Meeting we shared ideas on how to run a successful freshers fair stall – we had so many good ideas that we are producing a special guide in the next few weeks, complete with lots of useful tips and advice to help new groups establish themselves and get off to a flying start.
Student Assembly Against Austerity National Convention
Our National Convention is taking place on Saturday 21 November – a free national event open to all students to attend. Its happening at SOAS in central London and we already have an amazing line up of speakers including Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett, Clive Lewis Labour MP, Shelly Asquith NUS Vice President Welfare, Shakira Martin NUS Vice President Further Education, the People’s Assembly, Stop the War Coalition and Stand Up To Racism.
You can book your place for free today here. Join the facebook event here and invite your friends to what is set to be a brilliant chance to share ideas, network and help us plan the next steps in the student fightback.
How to join the Student Assembly Against Austerity
The Student Assembly Against Austerity is the official student wing of the People’s Assembly. We exist to bring together all students that wish to campaign for free education, against tuition fees, a lifetime of debt, cuts to education and the broad austerity offensive which represents the biggest assault on ordinary people for generations.
Anyone can get involved in our campaigns, protests and events – just check out our website and social media regularly for updates on the latest things happening.
For anyone who wants to get more involved the next key step is to create a Student Assembly Against Austerity local group on your university or college campus. If you’d like to set up a new group please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every local Student Assembly Against Austerity group gets a place on the Student Assembly National Committee, which meets at least once a month over Skype.
There are currently 26 campuses and national organisations represented on the Student Assembly Against Austerity National Committee. They are:
Birmingham University, Bristol University, City and Islington College, Exeter University, Goldsmiths College, Kent University, Kings College London, Lancaster and Morecambe College, LSE, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool University, London Met University, Manchester Met University, Midkent College Students’ Union, Oxford Brookes University, People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Roehampton University, Salford University, SOAS, Stop the War, Teesside University, UEA, Wolverhampton University, Worcester University, Young Greens
If your campus is not represented above and you’d like to get something going on your campus, please do not hesitate to get in touch.