The NUS has called for a national student walkout on 2 March. And university lecturers are set to take further strike action this term. Activists must begin building for these immediately, to mobilise a mass movement to defend education.
The National Union of Students (NUS) has called for a nationwide day of action this term, on 2 March, involving a student walkout at universities across the country, and a mass demonstration in central London.
Our education system is being driven into the ground. Students are being made to pay astronomical fees, whilst staff are under relentless attack from the bosses. This flows inevitably from the logic of capitalism – a system that prioritises profit above all else.
It’s high time that we, as students and workers, unite to fight this marketisation of education.
The main demands of the NUS for the 2 March national walkout are that education should be: fully-funded and free at the point of use; accessible; lifelong; and democratic, giving students more power and agency over our own learning.
These demands are vital for ensuring an education system that prioritises progress over profit.
But how can we achieve these demands when education is being sold off piecemeal by the capitalist class and their representatives?
Education is being marketised in order to line the pockets of the richest, leaving students and workers with as little as possible.
As Marxists, we must explain that we can only achieve these demands in the long run through the expropriation of the billionaires, combined with workers’ control across the education sector and wider society.
In other words, we need a mass movement of workers and students to take power out of the hands of the capitalists, and to begin transforming society.
This walkout is therefore just one stepping-stone in that struggle – to raise the consciousness of students and staff as to their collective power, and to the need to overthrow the system.
How to build
In order to make this walkout a success, we must build for it immediately.
The ruling class is flushed with resources to beat down those fighting oppression and exploitation. Our most important weapon is our unity. There is strength in numbers.
Activists must therefore make a clear battle plan on every campus, with the aim of reaching out to students, as well as unionised staff, in order to include as many people as possible – students and workers – in this walkout. Those looking to build should::
- Get organised: Many students will be keen to get involved in the fight back – if politically inspired to do so.
The best walkouts will be the ones with the strongest and most visible organising teams, composed of activists who can explain the reasons for the walkout, and offer a programme for struggle.
As many students as possible across the university should be encouraged to help get the word out, with mass democratic meetings organised to elect action committees that can coordinate the campaign.
- Pass the MSF motion (see below) through your Marxist society and student union: Motions of support for the walkout commit people to it. This means you’ll have a bigger team of organisers to get the message out. And if you can get the SU on side, this will make extra resources available for getting in touch with students and helping to build.
Even if your SU refuses to help, you should still get organised and put pressure on the student union for not supporting the people they claim to support.
- Link with workers and discuss how to win these demands: With workers around the country – and on campuses – going on strike, there has never been a better time to link the student and workers’ movements together.
Mass meetings should be organised to discuss what must happen in universities in order to build a better education system, and how to best build for the walkout. Plans should be developed to garner wider student and worker support.
These can include:
- Asking to give lecture shout-outs: Lecture shout-outs are a great way to let as many students as possible know about the walkout. Clear speeches explaining why the walkout is necessary should be given in every university lecture on every campus.
With UCU members in higher education set to undertake further strike action, coinciding with the 2 March student walkout, it should be easy to persuade your lecturers to let you do this.
- Door knocking and campus stall: Door knocking and public stalls are a long standing method of getting the word out there. Get as many people as you can to walk around halls of residence and student areas of the city to knock on doors. And set up stalls in areas with a high footfall of students. This allows us to get into conversations with people about the need for the walkout.
You can also sign up people to join in campaigning themselves, so that the movement snowballs.
- Posters and flyers: You can’t speak to every student in a month, so make sure to print out flyers and posters so people know about the walkout. Make them bold and eye-catching, and provide information about how people can get in touch.
There are a million-and-one ways to get the word out to students and workers around the walkout. These suggestions above should be combined with other innovative plans to get your voice heard.
The most important thing is that the walkout is built for politically, with the maximum participation and involvement of students and workers. The mood of anger on campus is rising and must be tapped into by anyone hoping to fight the system.
Students and workers: unite and strike!
Marxist students will be making the case for the NUS demands, and helping to build unity between students and staff. On this basis, we can organise a coordinated campaign across the whole education sector.
This could set an example for the rest of the labour movement – providing a platform for a one-day strike across the whole public sector, and a wider fight back against the Tories and the bosses.
To build towards this goal, we encourage all Marxist societies across the country to pass the following motion.
This Marxist society notes that:
- The National Union of Students (NUS) has called for a nationwide day of action on 2 March, involving student walkouts across the country, and a mass demonstration in central London.
- The NUS is demanding fully-funded education that is accessible, lifelong, and democratised.
- This action comes after students have faced a year of lockdowns, mental health crises, and eye-watering rent and fees; and in the context of a government which doesn’t care for the wellbeing of students and workers.
- This action by the NUS comes in the wake of three days of strike action by the University and College Union (UCU) in December 2021 over pensions, pay, and conditions, and coincides with more planned actions by the UCU this term.
- This action also comes at a time when the National Education Union (NEU) is increasingly mobilising college staff to take industrial action over academisation and poor working conditions for teachers.
This Marxist society believes that:
- This NUS action on 2 March is an opportunity for staff and students across schools, colleges, and universities to unite to strike a decisive blow against the marketisation of education.
- It is also a chance to strike a blow against the Tory government, which has put the profits of big business ahead of the health and education of students and workers.
- We should seize the moment to demand that education be free and fully-funded, paid for by the expropriation of the banks and big businesses which have profited from our education for so long.
- Marketisation should be resisted with real democratisation in education, with workers’ control of institutions involving students and staff democratically running schools, colleges, and universities in the interests of educational need, not cost-cutting or profit-making.
- Solidarity and coordinated action between students and workers is the best way to fight for a fundamental transformation of the education sector, and of society more broadly, starting by getting rid of the Tory government.
This Marxist society resolves to:
- Build for the maximum possible turnout of students and staff for the 2 March walkout.
- Organise lecture shoutouts, leafleting, campus stalls, postering, and mass meetings of students and workers to debate and discuss our strategy and demands.
- Demand that our student union: adopt this motion; spread information about the NUS action and the strike action by campus trade unions; provide resources, such as transport, to build for the demonstrations; and mobilise for local actions in the build up to the walkout.
- Agitate for mass meetings to form committees of action involving representatives from the trade unions and the student movement, to coordinate these efforts in every town and city across the country.