Students face an ever more neo-liberal university system and an FE sector being virtually destroyed — an alarming mental health crisis — absurd, soaring rents — a future of debt and precarious jobs — and a world all around us being wrecked by capitalism.
At the same time huge numbers are inspired by Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party and increasingly supportive of left-wing politics.
The National Union of Students (NUS) could be playing a tremendous role in mobilising, organising and politically engaging many thousands to take on the Tories and change society - but it isn't. It needs transformation from top to bottom, so it functions as a union and national political organising and mobilising centre, not a glorified, high-budget NGO. It should be a school for struggle, not a school for careerists.
Socialist activists Sahaya James, Mark Crawford and Hansika Jethnani, who organised 2017’s national student demonstration for free education, are planning to stand as candidates of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts for full-time officer positions at NUS conference, to call for a real fight against the Tories and education-sector bosses.
But to really defeat the right, the left in NUS needs to unite. Left-wingers in NUS need to do more than politely not stand against each other.
They need to come together on a positive platform that can unite the grassroots of the student movement and inspire a real fight, for caps on rent, caps on management pay in education, and a living wage for all education workers; and to defend freedom of speech and assembly on campuses, against the government’s Prevent programme and authoritarian college managements.