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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 February 2008

Uni fees must be fought!

Students from Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester and Oxford lobby John Denham MP, photo Ben Robinson

Students from Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester and Oxford lobby John Denham MP, photo Ben Robinson

Over the last ten years the bosses' and fat cats' New Labour government has succeeded in making higher education unaffordable to hundreds of thousands of students, condemning them to debt and poverty. The university experience is extremely financially insecure. A decent, debt-free, stress-free education is a privilege for the rich.

Matt Dobson, Socialist Students national organiser

Prime minister Gordon Brown, universities minister John Denham and higher education minister Bill Rammell say there is no other option; students have to pay fees to fund higher education. This is not true! They protect big business and the rich while we pay the price!

There are enough resources in society to publicly fund good quality, free education at all levels. But instead of challenging the wealth of the bloated fat cats, the government is running higher education on the cheap, trying to rob Peter to pay Paul on a pittance.

For example, Rammell has cut £100 million from funding for second degrees, saying the funds are needed for undergraduate courses. Massive public funding is needed to meet demand. Meanwhile public money is pumped in to prop up Northern Rock.

Education benefits society as a whole. But instead of education being provided as a public service for all, the introduction of fees has shifted the cost onto individual students and their families who are forced into a situation of unmanageable debt and expenses.

Students from Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester and Oxford lobby John Denham MP, photo Ben Robinson

Students from Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester and Oxford lobby John Denham MP, photo Ben Robinson

The average student now piles up record-breaking debts averaging £5,586 a year. This huge debt will have a long-term effect on the living standards of young people.

Brown proposes to hand the student loans company to private investors who will want to hike up the interest rates. Graduates who find themselves struggling will have their details passed to credit checking agencies.

Students are being chucked off their courses because they cannot afford fees. According to the Times Higher Education magazine (10-16/01/08) Coventry University expelled 445 undergraduates, 3 per cent of its total enrolment, for failing to pay their fees in the last academic year.


Students from Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester and Oxford lobby John Denham MP, photo Ben Robinson

Students from Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester and Oxford lobby John Denham MP, photo Ben Robinson

Students are angry about fees and the cost of university. This is reflected in the 6,000 signatures on the Campaign to Defeat Fees petition calling for a mass campaign against fees.

In the absence of a mass fightback, New Labour is getting away with these attacks. This isn't because students are 'apathetic'. If there was a nationally co-coordinated campaign giving students a lead and involving them in activity, huge pressure could be brought to bear on the government. The National Union of Students (NUS) has the resources to co-ordinate and link up millions of students across the country in a mass campaign.

However, the present NUS leadership is more interested in protecting the New Labour government and their own careers than fighting for students. We campaign for NUS to build a mass campaign, but we won't wait for them to act!

The Campaign to Defeat Fees, initiated by Socialist Students, has been set up to make sure that our anger at these attacks is heard.

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In The Socialist 12 February 2008:

Stop NHS privatisation now!

Local Government workers

Birmingham council workers' biggest strike for decades

'Single status' in the West Midlands

Bosses prepare to force through more cuts

Newham workers angry at councillors

Socialist Students

Uni Fees must be fought!

Feature: The great university swindle

War and terrorism

War and occupation in Iraq

Socialist Party news and analysis

Defend abortion rights

Millionaire welcomes economic recession!

Northern Rock

Liverpool's tale of two cities

Cardiff marches to save schools

100 people pack London world economy meeting


Cuts and backlogs cause delays

Tangled web at Metronet

International socialist news and analysis

Polish miners gain strike victory due to iron determination

Chad conflict - part of a wider power struggle


Prison officers: Fighting for trade union rights

Building the Campaign for a New Workers' Party


Comment: Opportunist blunder further splits Church of England

Workplace news and analysis

Land Registry staff vote for action

London Underground: Strike ballot in safety row

Campaign Against Climate Change trade union conference

Organise and fight back!

Shelter staff ballot for action


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Related links:


triangleFighting fees and marketisation after 2 March student walkout

triangleNUS walkout: Organise to fight for free education on 2 March

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