Guardian letter: over 100 student leaders call free education demo

The following letter was first published by the Guardian on Wednesday 2 July 2014.

Over the past four years, education in Britain has been the subject of a failed experiment in fees and marketisation. We are witnessing a crisis of cuts, indebtedness and access to education – and widespread attacks on staff working conditions. The coalition government now wants to deepen this experiment with plans to sell off the student loan book and further slash education budgets in the pipeline. Before the general election and beyond, we intend to put free, accessible, public education back on to the political agenda, not by softening our position but by making our ideas impossible to ignore. Free education is not a fantasy – this year Germany has decided to scrap tuition fees. That is why we are supporting the call for a national student demonstration on 19 November, as part of an autumn of protests and direct action in coalition with trade unions and workers.

Gordon Maloney, NUS Scotland President
Shelly Asquith, NUS London Chair
Piers Telemacque, NUS Vice President
Michael Chessum, University of London Union President
Shreya Paudel, NUS International Students’ Officer
Fran Cowling, NUS LGBT Officer
Malia Bouattia, NUS Black Students’ Officer
Kirsty Haigh, NUS Scotland Vice President Community and NUS National
Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland Women’s Officer and NUS National Executive
Beth Redmond, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts
Tom Costerton, Student Assembly Against Austerity
Clifford Fleming, Young Greens Co-Chair and NUS national executive
Rochelle Owusu-Antwi, President of Staffordshire University Students’ Union
& NUS National Executive Women’s Representative
James Elliott, NUS National Executive Disabled Students’ Representative
Kae Smith, NUS National Executive Mature Students’ Representative
Sai Englert, NUS National Executive Postgraduate Representative
Shakira Martin, NUS National Executive
Dario Celaschi, NUS National Executive
Daniel Cooper, NUS National Executive
Aaron Kiely, NUS National Executive
Abdi Suleiman, NUS National Executive
Edmund Schluessel, NUS National Executive
James McAsh, NUS National Executive
Hannah Webb, UCL Union External Affairs and Campaigns Officer
Hattie Craig, University of Birmingham Guild of Students Vice President
Areeb Ullah, King’s College London SU Vice President Academic Affairs
Howard Littler, Goldsmiths College SU President
Michael Segalov, Sussex University Students Union Communications Officer
Yael Shafritz, Sheffield University Students Union President
Dominic O’Hagan, Environment and Ethics Officer, Aberdeen University
Students Association
Paul Greene, Communications & Democracy Officer, Robert Gordon University Students Association
Miriam Miller, Women’s Officer, Sheffield University SU
Chris Jarvis, Campaigns and Democracy Officer, UEA Students’ Union
Rob Henthorn, Aberdeen University Students Association President Education
Georgie Robertson, School of Oriental and African Studies SU Co-President
Joel Smith, Activities and Development Officer, Manchester University SU
Matt Stanley, President, Mid-Kent College SU
Jamie Green, Royal Holloway Students Union Vice-President
Hannah Sketchley, UCL Union Democracy and Communications Officer Elect
Omar Raii, UCL Union External Affairs and Campaigns Officer Elect
Ellen McLaughlin, Community Officer Manchester Students’ Union
Christianne Kouassi, Stanmore College SU
Barbara Ntumy, NUS Women’s Committee
Tom Robinson, NUS LGBT Committee
Saint Owubokiri, NUS Wales Black Students’ Officer
Kelechi Chioba, NUS Black Students’ Committee
Saifullah Hamza Maishanu, NUS Black Students’ Committee
Hassun el Zafar, NUS Black Students’ Committee
Ashok Kumar, NUS Black Students’ Committee
Jade Foster, NUS Black Students’ Committee
Ian Antwi, NUS Black Students’ Committee
Ben Towse, NUS Postgraduate Committee
Kelly Rogers, NUS Trustee
Deborah Hermanns ,Birmingham Defend Education
Max O’Donnell-Savage, Occupy Sussex
Carlus Hudson, Occupy University of Exeter
Luke Neal Newcastle, Free Education Network
Shelby Cashmore, DeMontfort University
Ben Platt, Cambridge University Defend Education
Tania Sauma, University of Manchester
Nathan Rogers, South London Defend Education
Fiona Edwards, Student Broad Left & Student Assembly Against Austerity
Alex Falconer, Falmouth University Student Assembly
Charlie Ebert, Richmond University Student Assembly Against Austerity
William Pinkney-Baird, Durham Young Greens
Ben Hayes, Goldsmiths College Student Assembly Against Austerity
Hannah Billing, LSE Student Assembly Against Austerity
Miguel Costa Matos, Social Sciences Faculty Rep Warwick University Students’ Union
LIeuan Lloyd King, Chair of Young Greens Leicester
Catrin Brock, Secretary of Manchester Young Greens
Sahaya James, Chair of Gloucestershire Young Greens
Ross Campbell, Chair of Liverpool Young Greens
Samantha Pancheri, Chair of Milton Keynes Young Greens
Hannah Clare, Co-convener of Young Greens North
Emma Carter, Treasurer of Leeds Met Young Greens
Will Gildea, Chair of Warwick Young Greens
Siobhan Cockram, Chair of Kingston Young Greens
Jantje Technau, Chair of Canterbury Young Greens
Tom Hathway, Plymouth University Young Greens
Jennifer McDerra, Secretary of South West Young Greens
Stuart Maule, Chair of York University Young Greens
Duncan Davis, Chair of Nottingham young greens
Matthew Genn, Chair of Sheffield Young Greens
Oktay Cinpolat, Birkbeck College
Mustafa Bagdas, City and Islington College
Tanya Senel, Mountgrace School
Tutku Dursun, Kings College London
Deniz Dogan, Alexandra Park School
Diren Delice, Birkbeck College University
Anil Dogan, Northumberland Park Community School
Yaren Dalgic, Kingsmead School
Buket Sevimli, Oasis Academy Hadley
Sedar Olmez, Kings College London
Dilan Secgin, Westminster University
Rojan Tas, Hertford Regional College
Mahir Koyuncu, Kingsmead School

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National student demonstration for free education called – Wednesday 19th November 2014

A coalition of student groups and campaigns – including the Student Assembly Against Austerity, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, the Young Greens and NUS London – have come together to call a national demonstration on Wednesday 19th 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 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.

Join the Facebook event for the demonstration here.

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.”

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.”

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