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. Every Monday until December: Workers' Liberty Students will be holding informal online political discussions on the following topics; we'll also catch up on current campaigns. More news on higher education and student campus action here. Monday 23 November 6-7pm: Solidarity with the Uyghurs In Xinjiang, a region in the northwest of China which is known to most Uyghur people as East Turkestan...

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...

Students organise towards January

As lockdown began, the Minister of State for Universities Michelle Donelan reassured students, contrary to other advice coming from the government (!), that universities should carry on with in-person teaching. Meanwhile many students have voted with their feet, opting to return to parental homes to study online. Can students win what they need to rescue their academic year from university management incompetence? On Tuesday 17 November, as part of a week of action, the National Union of Students (NUS) plans a series of online “Town Hall” meetings with local MPs, to publicise their...

Biggest rent strike for years

At the start of this week (26 October) around 1,300 students at Bristol University withheld their rent for uni accommodation, amounting to around £2 million. This is the biggest student rent strike for many years. Bristol students, who pay up to £8,000 a year, were promised the “full university experience” only to be locked down for weeks without adequate support. The Bristol strike is more advanced than others that are being planned around the UK. Strikers are demanding the right to end accommodation contracts early and a 30% rebate if they chose to stay. At Durham University 7.5% of students...

Bail out universities and students

It is hard to imagine a more chaotic start to the university term than the one that’s now unfolding. After Covid-19 outbreaks in Glasgow and Manchester hundreds of students are confined to halls of residence with flatmates they have known for barely a fortnight. At Leeds, security staff have been patrolling with dogs on the look-out for breaches of household mixing rules. Manchester Metropolitan University had to apologise after locked-down students were told to take down protest messages displayed on hall windows, and is facing legal action after students in lockdown were apparently prevented...

Scottish students set rent strikes

Student tenants across Scotland have begun to act after the botched return to Scottish universities. Despite the clear signs of a second wave, many universities have made students sign in to crowded rental accommodation. Predictably, this has led to outbreaks at universities, which are being dealt with by lockdowns and punitive measures against students. Aberdeen Student Tenants Union (@AberdeenTenant), Stirling Students Tenants Union (@StirlingTenant), and Glasgow Uni Rent Strike (@UofGRentStrike) have started to organise for student action. On Thursday 1 October at 5:30pm the National Union...

Universities: no classes? No rent!

By Workers' Liberty students Most first year uni students will have planned to stay in university accommodation this year. Most will already be locked into contracts or will have paid for the first month or term. This year, as in all recent years, rents may be so expensive they drain most, even all, of a student loan. But this year we are also living with Covid-19. Now students are stuck in high-density barely-affordable accommodation where there is a high risk of getting the virus. If say 1 in 500 among students (an age-group with a higher infection rate) has the virus, then, statistically...

Universities return: fight for control!

The 2020-21 academic year is getting underway. Higher Education (HE) institutions that closed down and sent most of their students away in March, scrambling to move all teaching online, are preparing to welcome over two million people, mostly young, once more. Universities and colleges like many workplaces are allowed – expected – to reopen so long as they are “Covid-secure”. All insist that they are now that – for students, staff, and the surrounding community. They cannot afford to do otherwise! HE institutions are now basically businesses who must compete and make money to survive. They...

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