THE FUTURE OF THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2016 – ANA OPPENHEIM

The Norwich Radical was born in the student movement, and we continue to be an active part within it. We recognise that while official structures are not the sum total of the movement, they play an undeniably important part and to understand the political consciousness of the student movement, you need to, in part, look at the National Union of Students. As we move into election season for the new NUS President, Vice Presidents and National Executive Council, we contacted all candidates in those elections and offered them the space to write about their election campaigns, why they are standing and their vision for NUS.

By Ana Oppenheim

Just as I was starting my sabb year, I came across an article about the 1971 student walkout. It took place when Digby Jacks was NUS National President, and Margaret Thatcher served as Education Secretary. The latter – not exactly a fan of collective organising – issued a White Paper, calling for an opt-in system of SU membership and external control of their finances. The NUS’ response was prompt and clear: this attack on student unionism needed to be resisted by any means necessary. The movement that followed wasn’t without its internal disagreements about goals and tactics, but it managed to unite over 350,000 students who took part in regional and national demonstrations, and finally went on a five-week strike. The disastrous proposals were crushed by radical action.Continue Reading

FIGHT AUSTERITY – MARCH ON THE STATE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT

by Hannah Sketchley, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts

The State Opening of Parliament is a frankly bizarre occasion.  In the heat of the sun, lots of people wearing ludicrous uniforms parade around Parliament Square and the surrounding area, do a bit of figure marching and fence the public out of their roads to make way for the Queen.  Following the poor woman being wheeled around in what looks to be a terribly uncomfortable gilded coach for several hours, in and out of the figure marching furry hats, she toddles into Westminster, reads a speech someone shoves in front of her and bang!  The new government is consecrated, official and running the country for the next five years.

This year, the State Opening of Parliament is on Wednesday, May 27, and the Tories will have their government legitimised by every flavour of pomp and circumstance going.  They will do so with just 37% of the vote, and with the consent of 24% of eligible voters in the UK.Continue Reading

BUILDING THE MOVEMENT FOR FREE EDUCATION: THE STUDENT RADICAL #4

In certain circles, there is the perception that the transformation to the ideal of the student as consumer is complete and that therefore the student activist and a radical student movement is a thing of the past. Although there was the anti-fees flashpoint in 2010, the argument goes, now the modern student is more concerned with getting their money’s worth from the education they directly pay for, than they are about changing the world.

Over the last four years there have been countless examples of campaigns that prove this thesis wrong. This series of articles seeks to explore those campaigns, what they have achieved and what they mean for the student movement and the Higher Education sector as a whole.

by Chris Jarvis.

Estimates vary, but between five and ten thousand students marched through central London on Wednesday 19th of November. Under a multitude of banners, they brought with them a single central message – education should be a public good, not a commodity, and therefore should be free for all.

After a series of governments of many colours have introduced and then deepened the commercialisation of Higher Education, Universities are now run more like businesses than ever before. The principles at the core of Higher Education now are those of the market. In this context, a campaign, a movement or a march that calls for education to be free, and to shift the financing of education from the student to the state appears on the face of it to be fundamentally reactive.Continue Reading