On 6th of February UCL Students for Free Education will host the National Convention Against Fees and Cuts, an all-day conference of action, discussion and entertainment for anyone who thinks higher education should be free for all. We are looking to call the conference in co-operation with all sections of the student movement still willing to stand and fight – especially sympathetic unions. With a relentless assault of cuts, threats and marketisation from the government, and an NUS leadership unwilling to seriously challenge it, there is a real danger that Free Education – until so recently a reality – could fall off the political map altogether.
If Free Education is to remain on the agenda, it is now more vital than ever that the student movement set out its stall and reclaim the momentum. In part, this will mean restating what we stand for – that education is a right not a privilege, that it should be democratically controlled for the benefit of all. But most crucially we must set out our stall, commit ourselves and our organisations to a renewed and organised struggle against cuts and marketisation, as well as properly addressing the wider questions – what should education be about, and how could and should it be funded if not by us?
A National Convention should give us an opportunity to address these questions, and to reignite student activism about education. It will also give us a route to participating internationally: we look to invite speakers from abroad, and to draw conclusions from the international fight for Free Education.
And, as, always, we will need to do that thing so seldom mentioned by earnest gatherings – have fun! We anticipate big attendance, free food, comedy, music, high-profile speakers and bags of opportunity to contribute.
If you are active in an organisation or Union that is sympathetic to Free Education and might be willing to support the conference, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org We will be looking to co-ordinate the collaborative elements of the conference – such as a possible ‘declaration of fighting Unions’ – with all of its supporters at some point in early autumn. Please get in touch, and join our Facebook group at: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=108319208229&ref=ts
We will be working on the logistical aspects of the convention for some time to come, but we are already aware that it will be difficult for some to attend all day without some kind of accommodation, and will be drawing up a list of people willing to host.