Every student who is sick and tired of the grant cuts, can’t afford ever increasing college fees, and is disgusted by the lies and broken promises of the new government should join the national student march on November 16th in Dublin.
However, this must only be the start of a serious campaign by students unions – a march or two, a photo in the papers and a nice letter to the government will not be enough to defeat fees and cuts. We must build a real movement for free education.
After their promises before the election the new government has already over seen the hike in fees by a further €500 in September, the savage cuts in the grants (especially for mature students) and are now planning further cuts. That hike in fees and cuts in the grant are forcing many school students to think twice about going to college and are even forcing some students to drop out of college.
Yet these measures only saved the government around €50m, which is nothing when compared to the €700 million paid to unguaranteed Anglo Bondholders last week or the €3. 5 billion that is going to be paid to them over the next six months. Rather than being any sort of solution to the crisis, fees are just a continuation of the failed austerity policy of making ordinary people pay for this crisis caused by the bankers and the speculators. This only takes more money out of the economy, making the crisis worse.
We should fight not just to ‘stop fees’ being increased more, but to reverse the attacks already implemented, and to demand free education and a living grant for all. Education is a right, not a privilege, but that right is not going to be given to us, we must take it by building a serious, ongoing movement of university and college students, linking in with others being attacked by this government. The march on the 16th is a start, but must be built on with local marches, linking in with school students and the upcoming anti-austerity march on the 26th and organising a national student strike for second and third level students – where we shut down education.
A strategy to win
The strategy of the Student’s Unions up to now, of lobbying politicians backed up with occasional protests, has not worked. Every year there has been the annual student protest, some stunt for the media, and meetings with politicians and every year fees have been increased. If we want to defeat and reverse these attacks, we will have to step up our opposition.
Campaigning can’t be a once off, or left just to a hand full of people, hundreds and thousands of students need to get active on this issue in their college, university and school. Activity on campus, and building campaign groups locally that involve students democratically would be a good start. A national 24 hour student strike before the budget would also send a strong message.
Students also need to link in with other groups, including lecturers and school students. Far from saying that education should be protected, and others cut more, we should link up with others being hit in the upcoming budget. A strong student group on the united anti-budget, anti-austerity march on November 26th would be a start. If you’re interested in organising that kind of campaign in your college or school, contact 086 8064801.
There is no democracy when the markets rule
Socialist Students believe the fight for free education is part of the bigger fight against the attempt by big business and the rich to make us pay for their crisis.
This crisis isn’t just a case of a few bad apples creating a mess. The entire system is corrupt at every level, right to the core. We don’t just need a change of government, we need a change of system; politically and economically.
Right around the world, from Tahrir Square in Egypt, to Wall Street in the US, a fight back is developing. We must build that in Ireland too.
The Socialist Alternative
There is huge wealth in Ireland. The richest 300 individuals own a combined wealth of €57 billion. We have over €500 billion worth of gas off the West Coast. How then have we been thrown into the barbarism of a 1930s style economic depression?
Capitalist profiteering. It crashed the global economy in 2008 and now it’s driving austerity, destroying the economy itself. The wealth of the country lies idle in the bank accounts of the elite – investment has collapsed by 75% as they aren’t guaranteed enough’ profits.
Socialists propose breaking the grubby grip of the markets over the economy, by taking the key sectors into democratic public ownership. That could free the productive forces from the straight jacket of greed and profit, and plan them in the interest of the millions, not the millionaires.
What we stand for:
• One march is not enough – build a mass movement of students in every college and school. For a 24 hour student strike.
• Unite with others fight the budget cuts. Ordinary people didn’t cause this crisis – make the bankers & rich pay.
• Don’t just ‘stop fees’ increasing, and further grant cuts – reverse the hikes and cuts so far, and demand free education and a living grant for all students
• For free, quality, public education paid for through a central progressive taxation system that taxes the rich and super-rich to pay for services
• Stop the bank bailout, and the billions being spent on the ECB/IMF deal and instead use that wealth to create jobs
• Break the rule of the markets, ECB & IMF through public ownership of the banks & other key sectors of the economy, under real democratic control