The protests against the abolition of EMA on 19 January, when thousands turned out across the country at very short notice, showed that the student movement which began before Christmas is still alive.
On 26 January, there will be more protests, and 29 January will see big student demonstrations against fees and cuts in London and Manchester.
It is important we prepare for more demos to come. But the movement will not be sustained purely on the basis of one mobilisation after another.
The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts has produced a “Battle Plan” to guide student activists in the months ahead. You can read the full text at www.anticuts.com. Activists should:
• Localise the struggle. The movement will only develop if university and college anti-cuts/fees groups develop demands to fight their managements — against cuts, against course and department closures and to block the implementation of higher fees.
School students should organise ongoing activist groups in their schools.
• Take over their student unions. Except for the 10 November demo, most student unions have played little role in the movement. Most have sabbatical and other elections coming up — and in many anti-cuts activists are organising slates. This should not just be about replacing one set of personnel with another, or even just of changing policies, but of tearing up the structures which block mass involvement and replacing them with the democratic ones that have grown up in the anti-cuts movement — general assemblies and so on.
School students who feel able to should form unions and apply for affiliation to NUS. (We need a fight in NUS for such affiliations to be accepted.)
• Link up with workers in struggle. We need to build on examples like UCL occupiers and Euston tube strikers organising solidarity delegations to each other.
Every student anti-cuts campaign should take part in the local anti-cuts committee. We need a big student turn out for the TUC demo on 26 March.
Last but not least we need to develop NCAFC — still the most open, democratic important campaign in the student movement, but one which remains without adequate and sustainable structures. The AWL will be fighting to change that in the period ahead.
• NCAFC: anticuts.com