Merseyside Network Against Fees and cuts was formed on 1/12/10 after the wave of student protest both in Merseyside and nationally. Our aim is to coordinate and organise the resistance across Liverpool and the Wirral to to the proposed changes in education funding. These include;
– The raising of the cap on tuition fees for undergraduate courses to over £9,000
– The cutting of the teaching budget in universities by over 75%
– The scrapping of the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
– Cuts to Further Education of over 25% – 80,000 jobs and 800,000 places are under threat.
We believe that these amount to the biggest attack on working-class access to education in a generation. There are now one million 17-24 year old classed as NEET: not in education, employment or training. The ‘reforms’ of this government will condemn hundreds of thousands of young people to the same fate. We will not accept the throwing of a generation onto the scrapheap.
The Liberal Democrats, who have gone into coalition with the Conservative Party, promised in their 2010 manifesto to abolish tuition fees. This government does not have a democratic mandate to make these attacks.
We are against all cuts in education. We reject the idea of ‘good courses’ and ‘bad courses’ and any attempt to divide staff or students along lines of arts vs. sciences, further vs. higher or vocational vs. academic.
We call on all institutions to condemn the cuts, all student unions to mobilise and create democratic, fighting campaigns to stop them and all local councils to not cooperate with the cuts which are administered at a local level, such as EMA.
We demand a tax on the rich to fund free education for all. The Sunday Times Rich list 2010 showed that the 1000 richest individuals increased their personal wealth by £77 billion – an increase of 30%. This is not a question of ‘there is no money’.
We will organise demonstrations, lobbies, meetings, direct action and occupations to fight for these demands.
We will condemn and resist any police brutality such as the baton charges, use of horses and kettling of demonstrations in the freezing cold which have already been used against our movement.
Likewise we will not tolerate the victimisation of students’ by their institutions. Any suspension, expulsion or other disciplinary measure taken against students for walking out of classes or organising groups will result in campaigns in their defence.
We see this our fight as part of the wider struggle against the austerity measures of this government. We will link up and stand in solidarity with the Trade Union movement, with workers both on and off campus, with those defending the NHS from privatisation, with pensioners, disabled groups, benefit claimants, black and migrant communities and anyone under attack from this ruling-class assault on the basic human dignities that have been fought for and won since the Second World War.
This fight raises the basic question of what education is for. Is it a commodity to be enjoyed only by those who deserve it [can afford it] and denied to those who can‘t? Or is it a basic birthright of anyone born to a civilised society? We are fighting for a society which gives everyone the chance not just to get a decent start in life, but the opportunity to develop and enrich ourselves and each other throughout it.
We won’t pay for your crisis!
Free education for all!