Freedom News

Students fight back over cost of living

A student campaign launched on Monday, calling for a mass movement of students to fight back over the cost of living crisis after a conference was held by students last month.

National Union of Students (NUS) research released last week found students have been struggling this year amid the cost of living crisis: 9 in 10 students’ mental health has been impacted by the cost of living and 42 per cent are surviving off less than £100 a month.

After thousands of students sent letters demanding support and were ignored in the recent budget, a group of former rent and fee strike organisers and other activists from campuses across England, Wales and Scotland have decided they won’t take this lying down. They have launched the Student Cost of Living Campaign, a non-partisan, pluralist, campaign which seeks to “reinvigorate a student generation radicalised by the pandemic, through strikes by overworked, underpaid academics and kept in poverty by sky high rents, low wages and low maintenance loans.”

The campaign has six demands:

  • Immediate cost of living cash payment to students
  • Replace maintenance loans with living-wage grants, abolish tuition fees
  • Rent controls
  • Public ownership of energy and finance
  • Demarketised universities, to stop investing in oppressive regimes and the arms trade
  • Parity in all treatment for home and international students

They say they will use tactics like occupations, open day disruptions, and mass demonstrations to achieve these changes at institutional and governmental level.

Whilst students won millions back in 2020-21 through rent strike campaigns, there is once again a feeling of crisis as students also find themselves facing the choice between heating and eating. This all takes place on the backdrop of ever increasing student debt, with little faith in the prospect of ever paying it back.

The campaign has said they will fight back alongside academic staff who are on strike this week and are calling for people to meet them on the university picket lines this week, and at the national demonstration called by the University and College Union (UCU) on 30th November. With nurses, teachers, firefighters and civil servants all set to also be striking soon, the Student cost of living campaign has said they will be supporting those picket lines too, emphasising that student-worker solidarity can build a powerful movement to pushback against the latest onslaught of austerity.

Abel, a student from SOAS and the campaign said:

Times are tough all round, students especially are feeling the squeeze, our teachers are feeling the squeeze too, we can’t go on like this. We have to say enough is enough and demand a different education system, a different kind of society even.

Right now we’re seeing students around the world organising and standing up for their rights, their communities’ rights. From California to Iran, mass student protests are showing that a different way is possible, popular movements from below can and must build a different system. That need is urgent here in the UK too. A lot can happen this winter.

Discover more from Freedom News

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading