A manifesto for the National Union of Students

 
Franklin Qiao from the UCLU Marxist society recently ran on a Marxist platform for the position of delegate to the National Union of Students. Franklin’s ideas would transform the NUS from a distant bureaucratic machine into a fighting students’ union. Unfortunately Franklin did not win election this time around but UCLU Marxists and the Marxist Student Federation will continue the struggle to win the NUS to revolutionary socialist ideas.

We publish Franklin’s manifesto below.

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Today, as global economy continues to worsen, most students and youth are facing nothing but the bleak prospects of unemployment, tuition fees, debt, unaffordable living costs, and many other hardships. It is time for the NUS to struggle for the welfare of students once by arming itself with a bold socialist programme. Standing idly by is no longer an option!

Free Education

Education should be an investment in the students, not the other way around. Students’ future contribution to society far outweighs the costs of education. Profit should not be a guiding principle in higher education and research. Education is a right, not a commercial service!

All cuts, tuition fees and corresponding debt, must be declared illegitimate and retroactively abolished, with already completed payments to be fully reimbursed. If healthcare is free, why not do the same for education? There are many examples for successful free education systems around the world. There is no reason why we can’t do the same.

No profiteering from student rents! Student accommodation should be reduced to the cost of maintenance and put under public running and ownership, with a large investment programme to improve quality and availability. NUS should join the struggle and support students that participate in rent strikes against exploitative accommodation providers! o Living grants should be introduced – education must not be hampered by a struggle to make a living!

Democracy

Universities should be run democratically by representatives of students as well as staff, both academic and non-academic. Unelected and unaccountable university management is given a free hand to make arbitrary decisions and assign themselves obscenely high pay. Democratic control is the best means to resist privatisation, outsourcing of jobs and intrusion of corporate interests on campus. All democratic forms of organisation should be publicly supported and funded.

Oppose blacklisting of construction workers! UCL and other universities contract construction companies that use blacklisting services: they victimise and conspire against builders who attempt to unionise at their sites and fight for their workers’ rights. We refuse to be complicit in this and demand that our universities, student unions and the NUS make a stance against universities’ deals with blacklisting companies!

With 7 million students behind it, the NUS has immense fighting potential, which must be utilised to offer active support to a general struggle against austerity and attacks on public services, such as the NHS. But changing society cannot be achieved by the student movement alone, and the NUS must develop close links with the organised labour movement and campaign for socialist policies within it. The only way to achieve free and accessible education is for students and workers to struggle together for the wealth of society to be put under workers’ and students’ control, and using it to fund education.