Next steps for the student movement
There was a lively meeting of the NUS National Executive Committee today which voted against proposals from the left to back a protest in London on 29 January, instead opting to support a TUC rally in Manchester on the same day.
For the ex-NOLSies reading this who retain an interest (and the wider political community interested in what the NUS will do next), this is what was passed. I await a reenactment of NUS Conference slanging-matches in the comments:
The way forward for the Education Funding Campaign
1. Both houses of parliament have now approved a £9,000 limit on Higher Education Undergraduate Tuition Fees.
2. This happened despite an unprecedented mass campaign from NUS that has united students, lecturers and the general public and the largest student demonstration in a generation.
3. The student movement should be proud that the NUS/UCU National Demonstration on 10 November sparked an unprecedented wave of student activism.
4. The policing of both the NUS/UCU Demonstration and subsequent demonstrations has been widely questioned.
5. It has been widely reported that some on those demonstrations were bent on violence.
6. The changes to fees levels have to be seen in the wider context of savage cuts to education and public services.
7. The TUC have asked NUS and UCU to help build for a wider Rally on youth opportunities in Manchester on the 29th January.
8. Cuts programmes inside HEIs continue and will only get worse in the new year.
9. A significant number of new student activists have emerged out of the campaign.
10. The removal of the EMA will devastate retention and achievement in FE and destroy access to universities by the poorest.
11. Aim Higher has been mooted to close.
12. A white paper on fees is due out in the new year.
13. That students’ unions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland gave their full support to the
Vote For Students campaign and National Demonstration, with considerable success.
14. Wins in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (such as scrapping tuition fees for domiciled students, saving EMA, improved student support and commitments to covering the increase in tuition fees for domiciled students) all contribute to current and future campaign wins in England.
15. The devolved assembly and parliamentary elections in 2011 should be as much of a priority for NUS UK as the “Vote For Students” campaign was for NUS Scotland, Wales and NUS-USI. 16. The £4000+ per year difference between tuition fees in England and Scotland will understandably lead to more English students applying to Scotland. It would not be right for a decision taken at Westminster to squeeze out Scottish students from attending university.
17. The devolved administrations have now been forced to consider how to deal with cross-border flow of English students understandably looking to avoid increased tuition fees.
18. That colleges and universities in devolved administrations have also had their funding cut. NUS UK should aim to support students’ unions who face cuts across the UK.
NEC Further Believes
1. Our principal duty is to work to secure our members’ interests.
2. Our struggle on cuts to education and public services must now be bound up firmly with the wider trade union and social movement.
3. The prospect of £9,000 fees heightens and makes more urgent the need to radically improve student rights on campus and the regulation of HEIs.
4. Students’ unions need real, substantial help now on understanding and fighting cuts in their institution.
5. 29th January would be the wrong tactic at the wrong time.
6. The TUC protest and rally on 29 January will be held in Manchester- home to the largest FE College and HE institution in the country and sits in a region with the highest rate of youth unemployment in the country.
7. Some of the actions of some on demonstrations and in occupations have harmed, not progressed, our cause. Violent demonstrators have lost us considerable public support.
8. Some of the policing tactics in use at student demos in November and December exacerbated tension and violence and prevented peaceful students from demonstrating.
9. At a time when there is still so much to campaign for, there has never been a more important time for maximum unity, and not doing so is unhelpful and damaging to students.
10. Students in FE face a double whammy- 16-18 transport subsidies are to be cut in local authorities and learner support funds don’t support travel costs.
1. To support the TUC protest and rally for youth opportunities on 29 January in Manchester
2. Continuing to work with UCU and other trade unions through the TUC is vital to ensure we are part of a wider campaign.
3. To prioritise mobilisation amongst students for the 26th March TUC national demonstration in the first term.
4. To launch a local mobilisation and partnership strategy with trade unions and social groups aimed at developing activism over cuts in local constituencies.
5. To mandate the VP Higher Education to launch an anti cuts strategy with a detailed toolkit and advice available from NUS staff and officers, relevant to students’ unions across the entire UK.
6. To support the VP Further Education in continued prioritisation of the campaign to save EMA, cuts to FE and the fight for local travel subsidies for young people.
7. To call for a detailed enquiry must be held into Policing tactics used on demonstrations in November/December.
8. To continue to publically condemn inappropriate police tactics like kettling (containment) and horse charging.
9. To lobby for increased student rights and protections in the White Paper
10. To push the Government to ensure that there is a more comprehensive system of student support, effective outreach given the new fee regime.
11. To continue to fight to save the EMA and to lobby to ensure that colleges are able to assist students with transport costs in the future.
12. To launch a major campaign aimed at protecting Aim Higher and ensuring that efforts to improve WP measure universities’ success at retention and acceptances rather than just applications.
13. To develop a detailed long term strategy aimed at reversing the damaging marketisation and loss of public funding about to be inflicted on HE.
14. To mandate NUS UK officers to commit time and resource to supporting campaigns in the devolved assembly and parliamentary elections.
15. In public comments, to criticise the Westminster Government for any need to consider increasing fees for non-domiciled students in the nations, not the devolved administrations.
16. That this NEC asks the President to publically support actions not organised by NUS that do not damage our campaign goals, members reputation or students safety. Should actions do so, then the President has our full support to distance NUS and students’ unions from such actions.