USI: Build national campaign against fees

Socialist Voice Nov. 2002

ACROSS THE South, students are moving into action in defence of the right of ordinary people to third level education. Mass protests of 1,000 in Trinity College, 3,000 in Limerick and 6,000 in Galway all prove the depth of anger which exists against the 69% increase in capitation fees and the threatened re-introduction of fees of Euro4-5,000 a year.

By Paul Murphy, Socialist Youth UCD

They also show what is possible when students' unions mobilise on the issue and use even just a fraction of their vast resources to build for a demonstration.

In UCD, where the Fianna Fail dominated student's union is still pondering over whether it supports or opposes fees, activists have been forced to organise outside the official union structures in the Campaign for Free Education (CFE).

Without student union support and resources, the numbers attending demonstrations have averaged 500 at the two protests. The protests have been radical and effective, proving the willingness of students to take real direct action in their own interests.

Hundreds of students occupied the dual-carriageway for half an hour and blockaded the Minister for Education in a building for two hours.

The next step in the CFE's campaign will be on the 20 November, when we have called a mass boycott of lectures in UCD from 11am. We have decided that a student strike is the most effective and powerful way to show our opposition to the re-introduction of fees.

This boycott will be both a warning shot to the government, and can also serve as a focal point for students across the country, showing what is both possible and necessary to win on this issue. USI should follow the lead of the Campaign for Free Education and organise a nation-wide student strike to coincide with the Budget on 4 December. The regional demonstrations need to be followed up by a national day of action against fees. A national student strike would be a big step forward in building an active campaign of mass opposition to fees.

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