Universities

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. Every Monday from 11 January until 23 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. Monday 1 February, 6-7pm: Strategies for rent strikes, lessons of 2010 In 2010-11 there was a mass movement against raising fees in which Workers' Liberty and others...

AWL UCU Strike bulletins - 2019/2020

Workers' Liberty workplace activists in Higher Education have made strike bulletins - see this page for them all; and for links to related "tags".

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...

Grades in 2021

The government has said GCSE and A level grades for 2021 will be done on teachers’ assessments. That may be better than the botched algorithm attempted in 2020. But every school will seek to report results a bit better than 2020 or 2019. A student’s grades will depend as much on their school management’s talents as chancers as on anything real. There’ll also be “grade inflation” (an A or a 9 in 2021 not the same as in 2019), but that, I think, is a lesser problem. For GCSE, the answer is just to scrap GCSE grades. Let 16 year olds go on to what they want, A levels, apprenticeships, whatever...

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...

Win isolation pay, win social solidarity

Over 60% of those applying for the Government’s meagre and ill-advertised £500-per-fortnight isolation pay are being refused in some areas, like Yorkshire and Humber, so the Guardian reported on 1 December. Back in August, research found that fewer than 20% of those with confirmed Covid symptoms were self-isolating properly, and scarcely 10% of those who knew they were contacts of infected people. No-one knows about those due to self-isolate after travelling, or those who should stay home to look after self-isolating young children. Isolation pay isn’t the only factor here, but it’s an...

Student rent strikes spread

On 23 November, students at Cambridge University were the latest group to declare they will refuse to pay their rent for their university accommodation until certain demands are met. Cambridge rent strikers join groups at Manchester (who are also occupying a university building) and at Bristol currently not paying rent; other student groups have either pledged to strike in January or are planning to strike if demands are not met (York, Edinburgh, Goldsmiths). Cambridge are demanding: a 30% rent reduction; all students allowed to study remotely should they wish to; no Covid-19 job losses; no...

More student battles brewing

In the week starting 16 November, groups of students are organising workshops, banner drops, and email campaigns to highlight high rents, draconian lockdowns, and general lack of support at UK Universities. The National Union of Students (NUS) is promoting and encouraging local events, but has stopped short of calling for a national campaign of rent strikes. From 12 November, students at Manchester escalated their rent strike by occupying Owens Park Tower. The occupiers say: “We were lied to and brought onto unsafe campuses, forced to pay insane rent for facilities we can’t even access. We’ve...

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