More than 150 students from 56 campuses and national student organisations joined the event, which brought together all of the campaigns, organisations and groups in the student movement that want to fight austerity. The event in turn brought this broad coalition of students into an alliance with the wider anti-austerity movement represented by the trade unions in struggle and the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
The event featured a fantastic line up of speakers which can be found here, including writer and activist Owen Jones, MPs Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn, Assistant General Secretary of Unite the Union Steve Turner, Natalie Bennett the Leader of the Green Party, comedian Francesca Martinez, Stop the War’s Lindsey German, CND’s Kate Hudson, Unite Against Fascism’s Sabby Dhalu, University and College Union representative Mark Campbell and economists Mick Burke and James Meadway.
A broad range of student leaders spoke including, representatives from the NUS Liberation Campaigns, the Bring Back EMA Campaign, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, Student Union Executive Officers, activists from campus anti-cuts groups as well as Student Broad Left, the Young Greens and Counterfire.
Crucially, the Student Assembly Against Austerity has provided a forum for all those in the student movement to come together and discuss the way forward to take on the government’s austerity agenda. Lots of ideas for building and re-energising the student fight back were discussed at the event, including lots of creative proposals for raising our anti-austerity message on the People’s Assembly National Day of Action on the 5 November.
Thank you to everyone that came along to the Student Assembly Against Austerity, which we hope has served as a launch pad from which to strengthen our all campaigns against austerity at a national and local level.
Here are a few next steps to build the anti-austerity student movement you can take over the next few weeks.
1. Get active on the STUDENTS VS AUSTERITY National Day of Action on Tuesday 5 Nov
As part of the People’s Assembly’s National Day of Action, students will be taking action against austerity on Tuesday 5 November – join in!
We are mobilising around three key themes:
• Don’t privatise the student loan book – scrap fees and cuts
• Bring back EMA – no to fees and loans in Further Education
• Reverse the rising cost of living – lower our rent, create jobs & bring in a national living wage
There are many different ways of getting involved in the Day of Action which include:
è Join one of the ‘Bonfires of Austerity’ which are happening in towns and cities across the country, organised by local People’s Assemblies. In London the National People’s Assembly is organising a blockade of Westminster Bridge – assemble at Jubilee Gardens at 6pm. For full listings of events organised by the People’s Assembly visit www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/5nov
è Take action on your campus – whether to oppose a course closure, the rising cost of university accommodation or to campaign against the privatisation of the student loan book – occupy, protest, do a banner drop, hold open-air rallies or doing something creative! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what you have planned.
2. Set up a Student Assembly Against Austerity on your campus
Start planning a local Student Assembly Against Austerity public meeting on your campus. Email email@example.com if you are interested in setting up an Assembly on your campus and would like some help
3. Join the fight to stop the student debt sell off
The government is planning to sell off the student loan book to private companies. In order to make the student loan book profitable, privatisation will be accompanied by increasing the financial burden on graduates.
Last month students from London and Birmingham protested outside Lib Dem MPs offices in the first wave of protest against this move.
The Student Assembly Against Austerity has organised for an Early Day Motion, ‘SALE OF STUDENT LOANS EDM 542’, to be put down in Parliament, which 33 MPs have already signed.
A lobby tool which allows you to lobby your MP in less than 2 minutes is available here – use it today and encourage others to use it too.
Why not make opposing the privatisation of student loans your focus on the National Day of Action on 5 November?
4. Support the campaign to Bring Back EMA
Students in Further Education Colleges have been leading the campaign to bring back the Education Maintenance Allowance after it was slashed by the government in 2010. This year the Bring Back EMA Campaign succeeded in persuading 63 MPs to sign an Early Day Motion in Parliament to bring back the vital grant.
The next step in the campaign is building a mass petition – sign and share the petition online today here: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/bring-back-ema
The Bring Back EMA will be mobilising colleges to take part in the National Day of Action on Tuesday 5 November – with the focus on building as much support for the petition as possible.
5. Keep in touch!
Check out the Student Assembly Against Austerity website for updates on actions, campaigns and events including how students can support university staff fighting for fair pay: www.thestudentassembly.org.uk
The Student Assembly Against Austerity website facebook page: www.facebook.com/thestudentassembly
The Student Assembly Against Austerity twitter handle: @thestudentassem
Please keep in touch with the People’s Assembly Against Austerity by regularly checking the website: www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk