Salford Student Manifesto

TIME TO SCRAP TUITION
FEES ONCE AND FOR ALL!

Just two years after Tony Blair first introduced fees in 1998, the Scottish Government moved to abolish them.

Despite Scotland’s successful return to free education, in 2004 Salford MP Hazel Blears towed the party-line and voted to introduce top-up fees, making higher education even more expensive. Blears herself paid NOTHING for her Trent law degree back in the late 70’s. She was happy for the taxpayer to help her climb the ladder – pure selfish hypocrisy.

Since New Labour came to power in 1997 fees have almost DOUBLED. Salford University now charge undergraduates up to £3,000 a year. Graduates are struggling to find work to pay off their loans, many will spend the rest of their lifetime in debt. Meanwhile the banks (now bailed-out by the taxpayer) have parasitically targeted students with tempting offers for overdrafts and credit cards, forcing millions of students to accept a lifetime of debt for the purpose of private profit.

The National Union of Students (NUS) no longer campaigns to scrap tuition fees. Why?

Because the NUS is no longer democratic or representative. It is controlled by an elite group of New Labour party members, who often side with the Government and big business over the needs of ordinary students. Scrapping top-up fees is just a start, but we need to go further.

Education is a right, not a privilege.

It is time to ABOLISH ALL tuition fees once and for ALL.
This is a realistic aim – Scotland has shown us it CAN be done.

DEMAND A LIVING INCOME
RESTORE STUDENT GRANTS!

Most students have just received their final student loan instalment for this term, but how long will it last?

Student Finance does not provide adequate financial support to cover even the basic cost of student living. Profits from ‘nationalised’ banks could be redistributed to reinstate proper student maintenance grants and replace the flawed student loans system.

Nearly a third of young people growing up in Salford are living in poverty. Until last year a dedicated, non-repayable bursary was available to students studying at the University. It has recently been abolished, meaning the most disadvantaged members of the community can no longer afford to aspire to study in their home-town. Many of those in receipt of the grant had only just begun their courses, leaving them drowning in debt or forcing them to drop out. Some lecturers have even reported a 100% drop-out rate on a number of courses.

University management blamed the Local Education Authority, who then blamed the University who then blamed central Government. In reality, they are ALL responsible for denying the poorest students to have the same opportunities as everyone else.

Neither the local Liberal Democrats, Labour or the Conservatives intervened or commented in this appalling decision, none of them wish to scrap fees or bring back grants. We need a movement to call for a decent living income for all students to replace the failure of student loans.

DEFEND UNIVERSITY WORKERS
FIGHT CUTS AND CORRUPTION!

Last August sociology lecturer and PhD student Gary Duke was sacked for speaking out and leading protests against 150 job cuts. He also exposed the lavish lifestyles and salaries (some in excess of £250k) of the University’s senior management, despite their ongoing savage assault on cutting courses, tutors and facilities. Gary is a father of three and a familiar face around Salford, well known for standing up the rights of students and fellow staff. He had just been elected as branch secretary of the lecturer’s University and Colleges Union (UCU).

Following ongoing bullying tactics and vilification by senior management for ‘blowing the whistle’ on their malpractice, Gary Duke was suspended and eventually dismissed. He has subsequently been banned from the campus and denied the chance to complete his postgraduate course. Despite the serious personal sacrifices he has made, the resulting media attention has forced the University to at least slow down the ongoing programme of cuts.

We must continue to hold the management to account. We have the right (as stated in the Salford University Charter) to put forward new ideas and make comment or criticisms (however unpopular or controversial) relating to the institution’s management without fear of being suspended, harassed or dismissed. Gary’s campaign affects ALL students and staff and now has national repercussions.

In January over £900 million of devastating cuts to University and College funding were announced by Lord Mandelson. These cuts have gone ahead unopposed by the Tories and the Lib Dems, and the damage is already beginning to materialise at institutions all over the country.

As a result over a third LESS university places will be available this year, investments in campus improvements have been put on hold, the lowest paid staff are now facing ‘redundancies’ and are preparing for major strike action.

Staff and Students need to stand together and prepare for the onslaught of our livelihoods. Mainstream politicians WON’T do this for us. They now view education funding as a burden and fail to realise public investment in higher education is a genuine, long-term way out of economic decline. If we don’t defend it now we will lose it forever.

David Henry is a student at the University of Salford.
If you want to vote for students – vote for Henry! X

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