UK Student movement

Workers' Liberty students

Student activists in Workers' Liberty argue for working class socialist ideas and campaign on issues like freedom of movement, anti-racism, workers' rights, international solidarity and free movement. Usually, every Monday from 11 January until 22 March 2021: Workers' Liberty Students will be holding informal online political discussions on a wide range of topics with the emphasis on current and relevant struggles. Meeting time is 6-7pm. Meetings planned this term: Monday 8 March, 6-7pm: Why we celebrate International Working Women's Day Zoom link to join the meeting Monday 22 March, 6-7pm...

Fee strikes and solidarity

Talk of fee strikes is starting to spread through the UK student movement. There are fee strikes ongoing at SOAS University of London and Royal College of Art (RCA); they started in January primarily due to students feeling they have not received “value for money”. Fee strikes are particularly feasible at those universities because of the high proportion of international and postgraduate students, who pay fees from their own accounts, and can therefore withhold them. Home undergraduates’ fees are paid directly by UK student finance, and so they cannot “fee-strike”. The ongoing strikes remain...

SOAS starts a fees strike

Students at SOAS [a university in London centred on the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East] are refusing to pay fees as leverage to win their demands on the university management. Close to 1000 students (out of around only 5000 “campus” students, i.e. students who would be on campus in usual conditions, as distinct from those online-only anyway) signed a petition supporting the call for a bailout, pledging solidarity with staff against insecure contracts and “restructuring”, and further demanding that the university does not comply with the government’s Prevent and Hostile...

University battles over job cuts

As rent strikes continue around the UK, other fronts of struggle in higher education are opening up. Leicester and Liverpool Universities have recently announced redundancies of academic staff. A strike planned for 8 February at Brighton University over cuts in the IT services was called off after management made some concessions but the fight continues. Action Short of Strike by UCU members at Goldsmiths continues with no sight of management backing down on long-threatened redundancies, despite no drop in student numbers. Many university managements are using the pandemic as an opportunity to...

Much more needed on student rents

There are now around 70 student rent strike and tenants’ groups at universities across the UK and the organisation and politics of the movement is taking a clearer shape. At the same time some University and private landlords are offering inadequate rent rebates, though inadequate ones. The National Union of Students held a high profile rally on Monday 25 January, under the banner Students Deserve Better, with UCU General Secretary Jo Grady, Owen Jones and rent strikers speaking. The grassroots organising is being co-ordinated by local groups, a new committee of rent strike groups and local...

University rent strikes escalate

Groups of students at around fifty unis are now withholding rent for halls of residence, or about to start doing so. The advice to most students not to return to campus until mid-February at earliest has given the rent strike wave fresh impetus. What’s the point of paying for accommodation you can’t use for at least six weeks and possibly longer? The movement is beginning to consolidate organisation, with meetings being held, reps elected and a national network. The grievances, anxieties and consequently demands for undergraduates go beyond paying for accommodation that isn’t occupied. They...

Rent strikes at 40 universities

At the start of 2021 rent strikes are planned at up to 40 universities. Thousands of students will withhold rent as it falls due throughout January; the campaigns are demanding 30% or 40% rent rebates and many other demands. Unions and the Labour Party and other students not involved in the strikes should back the action. It can spearhead a push to reverse the disastrous course managers and government pursued in higher education last year. The government is shifting; but it is too little and too late. Rent strikes have come as the Tories have issued last minute advice to UK universities and UK...

A dozen or more rent strikes

In the last week of the first term, groups from more universities are joining the wave of rent strikes. They will withhold rent payments due in January 2021. Students at a dozen universities, possibly more, are now involved. On Wednesday 2 December, a London demonstration, called by the cross-capital Liberate the University group and backed by the National Union of Students (NUS), was attended by 150 or more, with Goldsmiths, UAL (University of the Arts, London), and King’s students leading the mobilisation. In Manchester, the same week, where there are two ongoing rent strikes at Manchester...

Win for Manchester students

Following protests, a still-ongoing rent strike and a two-week occupation, Manchester University students have won a 30% rent reduction for semester one. This will cost the university around ÂŁ12 million, making it the biggest win for student rent strikers in the UK. The student union will now hold a vote of no confidence in Vice Chancellor Nancy Rothwell, and the rent strike will continue next term. Students at Manchester Metropolitan, Goldsmiths, Edinburgh, Cambridge, York, Nottingham, Bristol and Queen Mary universities are getting organised for a January rent strike, with more universities...

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