Check out Student Broad Left’s guide to NUS National Conference 2016 – and if you are attending pick a free copy of this on the first day of conference.
LET’S KICK OUT THE TORIES
By Shakira Martin, NUS Vice President Further Education
The Tories have intensified their attacks on students and education over the past year. We’ve had our maintenance grants scrapped, seen massive cuts to colleges and universities and threats to increase tuition fees yet again. All of this is part of a wider austerity offensive which is making the majority of society poorer and worse off.
But there is some cause for hope. Less than a year after the General Election and the cracks in the Tory government are already starting to show. It’s becoming clearer by the day that this is a weak, divided and out of touch Tory government.
What’s also clear is that when we fight back we can win and defeat the Tories. Jeremy Corbyn has shown this time and again whether its making the Tories back down on their unfair cuts to tax credits or forcing a u-turn on cuts to vital support for disabled people.
I have no doubt that we also can defeat their attacks on students – but we need to step up our fight back if we are to succeed.
In recent years the NUS leadership failed to build the strong, vibrant mass movement we desperately need to defend education.
Over the past year NUS has finally started to move in the right direction with more activism and more campaigns. We’ve launched the #FEunplugged campaign to take on the massive cuts looming over further education, we’ve fought the cuts to maintenance grants, we’ve campaigned against the racist Prevent agenda and we’ve stood in solidarity with junior doctors and with student nurses fighting to save their bursaries.
But we’ve got to step it up and take our fight back to the next level. We’ve got to be bolder and provide much stronger leadership nationally.
We need an NUS that takes the fight to the Tories to defend our education and defend our futures. It’s got to start with a massive, tens of thousands strong NUS national demonstration against education cuts. Alongside this we also need to use a wide variety of tactics including national days and weeks of action, student activist training days, lobbying, petitions, creative stunts and peaceful direct action.
As well as stepping up our campaigning for free education, we need a student movement that takes part in the wider fights against the Tories. From working alongside the People’s Assembly Against Austerity to linking up with all those campaigning for affordable housing and trade unions fighting to save jobs.
Defending our Students’ Unions from attacks on our ability to fight back, alongside building strong representation within FE and supporting the Nations in all their campaigns, is all becoming more vital as the government launches fresh attacks on our democratic rights.
Challenging discrimination must also be a key priority for the student movement. Women, Black, LGBT and disabled people have all been hit hardest by the cuts and are suffering from oppression and bigotry. NUS needs to empower and support the NUS Liberation Campaigns in fighting back against these injustices.
Rising racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism is a threat to the welfare of millions of students. The Tories are scapegoating Black communities, migrants and refugees in order to distract people from the real causes of austerity and falling living standards – the bankers and the Tories’ cuts. In the face of this adversity the student movement is playing an inspiring role in challenging racism. We’ve participated in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, built solidarity and support for refugees and we’ve mobilized in our thousands to march with Stand Up To Racism.
We are told there need to be cuts, yet the government has billions of pounds for weapons and war. The billions of pounds wasted on immoral wars should be used to tackle climate change, to fund public services and education for all.
THE FIGHT FOR FE – NO CUTS
By Daniel Nikolla, President of City and Islington College
To me, further education is the midfielder in our education system. It’s a place where millions of people explore their hopes and dreams and a gateway into higher education or a chosen career path. So when the Tories attack our colleges and sixth forms, they aren’t just undermining education, our economy and society – they are destroying the futures of so many people.
Over the past 6 years under the Tories we’ve seen massive attacks, from the 24% cuts to adult funding, the introduction of fees and loans in FE, the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) which was a lifeline to millions of young people and savage cuts to ESOL (English as a second language courses).
Now the government is preparing its biggest attack on Further Education yet with the ‘Area Reviews’ in England. This is going to result in huge cuts, colleges being closed down and merged with others, jobs cuts and less choice for students. The next two years will be a fight for the heart and soul of FE.
That’s why the #FEunplugged campaign is so vital. It must be a top priority of the whole student movement to defend further education against the cuts and get involved in this campaign. Everyone has a role to play from FE students to postgraduates.
The cuts facing further education are massive and so are the attacks on higher education whether it’s the threat of higher tuition fees or cuts to maintenance grants. I believe that NUS is strongest when united and fighting together. We need greater coordination and solidarity in the fight back to defend education and save our futures – from national demonstrations and lobbying to peaceful direct action.
FIGHTING RACISM, SEXISM AND AUSTERITY
Barbara Ntumy, Students’ Union Officer-Elect, London Met University Students’ Union
The election of the Tories last year was a disaster for millions of people. They stand for a society which is divided, where the vulnerable and oppressed are attacked and the rich and powerful are defended.
Austerity has hit the overwhelming majority of society. Most of us are suffering from lower wages, under-funded public services and fewer job opportunities. But some of us have been harder hit than others – with the cuts disproportionately hurting women, disabled people, LGBT communities and Black people.
In further education the massive cuts to adult education and the introduction of fees and loans have hit women harder. Women are much more likely to return to studying as an adult following a break from education due to childcare or other caring responsibilities. These cuts to further education have taken away a second chance to thousands of women.
When we graduate from university it’s going to take us years longer than our male counterparts to pay back our enormous £40,000 debt because of the gender pay gap, which is currently rising thanks to austerity.
As for Black students, cuts to the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) have shut thousands of us out of further education. Youth unemployment has massively disproportionately impacted Black people, with a staggering half of the UK’s Black men unemployed.
Racist scapegoating is an essential part of the Tories’ austerity agenda – they are trying to shift the blame for falling living standards by attacking immigrants, Muslims, asylum seekers and Eastern Europeans.
The student movement must prioritise the fight against racism, sexism and all discrimination in our battle against austerity. We’ve also got to link up with and support Jeremy Corbyn who has provided inspirational leadership in the fight against cuts, is putting forward an alternative to austerity with a plan to raise living standards, and has consistently defended students including by supporting our demand for free education for all.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT AGAINST AUSTERITY!
The Student Assembly Against Austerity exists to bring together all students that wish to campaign for free education, against tuition fees, education cuts and the massive austerity offensive.
As the official student wing of the People’s Assembly, we are part of the biggest national movement against the cuts in Britain today.
We stand for:
- Building a huge, united movement to end austerity
- Free education – no cuts, no fees, no debt
- Defending public services – stop privatization
- No more racist scapegoating – immigrants are not to blame
- Equality and liberation – opposing racism, sexism, disability discrimination and LGBTphobia
- Stopping climate chaos – 1 million green jobs now
- Welfare not warfare – scrap Trident
Over the past year we have been busy mobilizing students onto the massive People’s Assembly national demonstrations, organizing in solidarity with junior doctors and student nurses fighting to defend the NHS, coordinating creative actions outside Tory Party Conference as well as linking up with the movements against racism, war and climate change.
We are a fast growing movement – and we need you to get involved to help us build a united, fighting student movement.
We have Student Assembly Against Austerity groups on over 30 campuses. Our groups organize a huge range of activities from mobilizing for national demonstrations to building local campaigns against education cuts, soaring rents and in solidarity with trade unions.
Why not set up a Student Assembly group on your campus? Emailinfo@thestudentassembly.org.uk today to find out how.
NO TO WAR AND CLIMATE CHANGE
By Fiona Edwards, Student Broad Left Secretary
From opposing apartheid in South Africa to mobilizing against the Iraq war, the student movement has a proud tradition of international solidarity – and it’s vital that we keep this up.
Fighting climate change
Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity. Without urgent action, billions of people will be left hungry, displaced from their homes and threatened by droughts and flooding. Yet the Tories are taking us in completely the wrong direction by spending massive amounts on fossil fuels, slashing renewable funding, green policies and backing fracking.
The student movement continues to rise to the challenges facing us. Huge campaigns demanding our colleges and universities divest from fossil fuels have been sweeping Britain. At the same time students have played a major role in mobilizing to lobby politicians and decision makers on the international level for tougher targets and action to reduce in carbon emissions, invest in renewables and ultimately end fossil fuels.
Welfare not warfare
We are told that there is not enough money to fund education and public services, yet billions is spent on warfare.
Britain’s wars in the Middle East and Africa have caused huge death, destruction, chaos, the growing refugee crisis, and fuelled the rise of terrorism across the region. Britain is currently bombing Syria and Iraq as well as arming Saudi Arabia in their war on Yemen.
Trident nuclear weapons cost £100 billion, more than £30 billion is spent every year on the military and the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria have cost many billions more.
We say: fund education and public services, not war!
Supporting justice for Palestine
In the summer of 2014 Israel launched a brutal invasion of Gaza which saw over 2,000 Palestinians killed, over 10,000 people injured and hundreds of thousands of people displaced. The overwhelming majority of those killed and injured were civilians, including hundreds of children as homes, hospitals, refuges and schools were deliberately targeted.
The West continues to arm Israel and does nothing to pressure Israel to stop its attacks on Palestinians and their basic human rights, in contravention of many United Nations resolutions.
The student movement must keep building solidarity with Palestine: end the siege of Gaza and the illegal occupation now!
STUDENT BROAD LEFT’S GUIDE TO NUS CONFERENCE 2016
Fight back to save our futures – we need a national demo
One of the first big debates of Conference is going to be whether or not NUS should organise a massive national demonstration against all of the huge attacks facing education, from the ‘Area Reviews’ in Further Education which will see cuts on a scale we haven’t witnessed before, to the threat of higher tuition fees. We also need to use a wide variety of tactics in our fight back from national days and weeks of action to creative stunts, peaceful direct action and activist training days. Vote for the ‘Save Our Futures – Stop Cutting Education ‘ amendment 202a in the Education Zone.
For free education – no cuts, fees and austerity
Britain is one of the most expensive places to study in the world with £9,000 tuition fees. The Tories are increasing their attacks on students with higher fees, more marketization and deeper cuts. Vote for NUS to keep up the fight for free further and higher education – vote forMotion 201 ‘Divorce our courses from market forces’ and Motion 204 ‘Free Education, Further Education, For Everyone.’
Vote for NUS to push forward the #FEunplugged Campaign by voting forMotion 202 ‘Area Reviews: Colleges are on life support; don’t pull the plug’ in the Education Zone.
Vote for NUS to campaign for affordable, decent housing including support on how to organise rent strikes. Yes to Motion 408 ‘Rent Strikes’ in the Welfare Zone.
Let’s keep up the fight to save maintenance grants and campaign for living grants for all – vote for Motion 403 ‘#GrantsNotDebt’ in the Welfare Zone.
Let’s step up campaign to reverse the NHS bursary cut– vote for Motion 401 ‘NUS for the NHS.’
Vote for NUS to campaign against cuts to vital welfare and support services locally and nationally. Yes to motion 402 ‘SOS – Save Our Services’ in the Welfare Zone.
Uniting against racism and fascism
Building a movement to challenge all forms of racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism is an urgent priority for the student movement. In the Society & Citizenship Zone vote for NUS to ‘Stand Up To Racism’ with Motion 508.
The NUS ‘Preventing Prevent’ campaign has been very successful this year, reaching dozens of campuses. We need to step up this important campaign against the racist Prevent agenda by voting for Motion 406 ‘Preventing Prevent’.
Vote for ‘A full time paid NUS Trans Officer and an autonomous NUS Trans Liberation Campaign’ – Motion 605.
Stop climate change
Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity and the student movement has a crucial role to play in building a movement for a sustainable, green future. Commit NUS to stepping up the campaign for universities to divest from fossil fuels and invest in clean, renewable companies. Vote for Motion 502 ‘Divest-Invest’ in the Society & Citizenship Zone.
Support justice for Palestine
Support human rights including the right to education in Palestine. Support ‘Justice for Palestine’ by voting for Motion 512 in the Society & Citizenship Zone.
Vote for a fighting National Union
We strongly urge delegates to vote for candidates that have a record of fighting for free education, against austerity, racism, war and climate change. See which candidates Student Broad Left are backing on our website at www.studentbroadleft.org.uk.
Join Student Broad Left
To find out more about Student Broad Left come along to one of our meetings taking place at Conference. Emailinfo@studentbroadleft.org.uk to find out when they are happening. If you like what we stand for and would like to join us, simply email us and we will send you a membership form.