by Daniel Waldron
Students today face an increasing struggle to meet the financial costs of studying for a degree. The loans we receive are simply inadequate to survive on, especially when the extortionate price of private rental accommodation and many basic commodities are taken into account.
And of course, when we have finished our degree, we are burdened with the huge debt that we have been forced to take on.
This problem has been exacerbated by the introduction of top-up fees as high as £3,000 a year. Many young people, particularly from working class backgrounds, are wary of going into higher education because the cost of getting a degree may well outweigh the benefits in the future. Applications to university from Northern Ireland fell 11% last year!
Student loans and top-up fees are part of the neo-liberal agenda of New Labour, who want to turn all public services, such as education, into private enterprises run for profit, not those who use them. But students can fight back! Many of the capitalist ministers implementing these attacks on students today got their degrees under a system of free education and grants. These gains were won through struggles of workers and young people, fighting for a better future. Determined action by students can force the government back again.
The potential power of students was shown in the movement against the CPE, a draconian youth employment law in France in 2005. Hundreds of thousands of students took to the streets and occupied campuses. The working class came out in support of the struggle, recognising that the CPE was part of an offensive by the government against all workers. This movement rocked French society and forced the government to scrap the law. And this is only one example!
The Socialist Societies and our sister organisations in Britain have launched the Campaign to Defeat Fees to help students organise to fight for free education. The campaign has got a huge response, pushing the NUS to take action on the issue. We also campaign on many other issues, including the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the destruction of our environment, sectarianism and racism.
However, the root of all these problems is the capitalist system, which puts a tiny, rich elite in economic and political control of our world. If you want to fight against capitalism and the destruction that it brings, and for a socialist world run by the millions, not the millionaires, join the Socialist Society on your campus today!
PROTEST AGAINST FEES
Wed 10 October, Outside Vice-Chancellors Office, Lanyon Building QUB
For more details contact: