A socialist solution to the student rent crisisNovember 14, 2016
The Southampton Marxist society has written an article for the Wessex Scene, the local student newspaper in Southampton.
The full article can be found here and some key excerpts from it are below.
Students across the country have already devised ways of fighting back against the exploitation of their rent. With UCL and Kent University students leading the way last year, Cut The Rent campaigns, where students strike on their rent payments, have now been threatened in 25 different universities across the UK. In Edinburgh, the bottom city on the RBS Student Living Index, students have taken up to creating their own student housing co-operative, allowing them to own the accommodation themselves. This has reduced accommodation prices by as much as half as none of the rent price goes to profit. Birmingham and Sheffield students have followed suit.
These campaigns will only succeed if they are united by a wider, joint campaign supported by the whole student community in every university campus. This wider campaign should not be limited to just tackling the student rent situation. The high cost of rent, the short-cuts made by landlords, the scrapping of student maintenance grants, and the steadily climbing tuition fees mean that further education is becoming a greater risk for young people to take. The crisis in the wider economic system is causing massive de-investment in education and in doing so it is creating a resource that only the most privileged can afford to access
It is clear that a real solution to the student rent crisis and indeed the education crisis must come from a change to the very system which props up education. We need a system that is prepared to allow education to prosper and develop, not for a small group, but for all members of society. Our current failing capitalist system can only resort to austerity measures is unfit to do this.
Both students and staff in further education must stand in solidarity to fight for this. The further education system should stand with the higher education system in solidarity, realising that we both face the same issues. And ultimately, the youth and the workers must unite together through organs such as the Labour Party, to change the system and bring not just education, but the health service, the banks, the railways, industry back into the control of the people who care about and need them.