A coalition of student groups and campaigns – including the Student Assembly Against Austerity, the Young Greens and the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts - have come together to call a national demonstration on Wednesday 19 November.
The demonstration will take place under the banner of ‘FREE EDUCATION: NO FEES. NO CUTS. NO DEBT’. It will take place on Wednesday 19th November in central London. The Student Assembly Against Austerity is playing a leading role in the organisation of this demonstration, which seeks to build on the momentum of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) demonstration on Saturday October 18th.
The move marks an escalation of opposition to the government’s programme of fees and privatisation in education and will provide a spark for further action. Students are planning a wave of occupations and localised direct action alongside the demonstration in autumn term, and are also mobilising for a student bloc on the TUC demonstration on Saturday October 18th.
Nearly a hundred activists and student unionists have now signed an open letter calling the demonstration, which will appear tomorrow.
Join the Facebook event for the demonstration here.
Malia Bouattia, NUS Black Students Officer, said “Black students have been hit hard by the government’s tripling of tuition fees and the scrapping of Education Maintenance Allowance; and prospects for young Black people in Britain look bleak with nearly 1 in 2 unemployed. We will be marching for a clear alternative to austerity politics, against the vicious racist scapegoating agenda of the government and we proudly support immigrants and international students who make a vast contribution to our education and wider society.
Aaron Kiely, from the Student Assembly Against Austerity, said: "The Coalition’s austerity agenda sees more value in dropping bombs than building homes – more value in big business than the NHS. When the Tories say there is not enough money for free education, they are lying. The trebling and trebling again of tuition fees has not only kicked away the ladder of opportunity – it’s also losing the government billions of pounds. Germany has proved only this year that there is an alternative – if they can scrap tuition fees and so can our government.”
Clifford Fleming, Co-Chair of the Young Greens, said “We are sick of being marginalised by Westminster. With threats to cut young people’s benefits from both the Conservatives and the Labour Party, it’s time for a full-scale fight-back. Years of tuition fees have lumbered millions with debt, and the system isn't working. We need an open, accessible, free education system that supports those from all backgrounds.”
Beth Redmond, from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, said “Four years on from the election of the Coalition, it is clear that fees have failed. Whole areas of higher and further education are now off limits to anyone without rich parents, and education workers are being squeezed, sacked and outsourced. We are calling this demonstration to take the fight to the government and to demand a public education system that serves society and is free and accessible to everyone.”
Kirsty Haigh, NUS Scotland Vice President, said: “This year will see a major fightback against privatisation and attacks on living standards, the biggest since 2010-11. Millions of workers will be on strike this summer and into the autumn, and students will be a part of that fight. With a general election in May, we will be putting free education onto the political agenda, not by softening our position but by making our ideas impossible to ignore.”
1. The National Union of Students (NUS) voted to support free education at all levels, funded by taxation of the rich, at its conference in April.
2. The Coalition of groups involved in calling the demonstration includes the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), the Student Assembly Against Austerity (the student wing of the People’s Assembly) and the Young Greens.
3. Like the Facebook page here and join the event here.