The Central Committee of the Young Communist League has issued the following statement to mark International Students Day 2021.

The YCL send greetings and solidarity to students and school pupils across Britain and the world today, International Students Day 2021.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted all aspects of our society, particularly our education system, from primary school to university. The Tory Government, and the devolved administrations have done little to protect the lives, education and wellbeing of children and young people. Instead, the reopening of schools, colleges and universities became a political tool aimed as reopening the whole economy. Students and their families are the ones who have paid the price, including through the avoidable spread of COVID-19.

The Tory Government and the devolved administrations chose to leave most of the responsibility to educational institutions already suffering from over a decade of cuts. In the case of universities, the negligent treatment of students, who have continued to pay extortionate rents and tuition, resulted in deaths and only heightened the worsening mental health crisis at universities throughout Britain.

The lack of investment in digital infrastructure to support the poorest children and young people meant hundreds of thousands missing crucial periods of education. Even with schools attempting to operate as normal, hundreds of thousands of young people have been forced to miss out due to self-isolation, with little chance of catching up.

Austerity in the education system hasn’t ended, its long-lasting and continuing impact is plain to see. Schools have been forced to adapt massively throughout the pandemic. With budgets already constrained thanks to years of austerity, money wasn’t available to do this properly and the money that was spent by schools and colleges will just mean a new blackhole in next year’s budget. All too often it has been left to individual teachers to spend their own money to address the impact of austerity. Hundreds of thousands of working class young people have slipped through the cracks already and the attainment gap continues to grow exponentially.

The creeping privatisation of schools in England also continues through the creation of academies and free schools. Young Communists are clear that education is a basic right and should be funded through taxation. Quality education should not have a price tag attached.

The current system of admissions to colleges and universities drives an unhealthy fixation on league tables and symbols of status. The market in admissions is inefficient, and it encourages educational institutions to rely on wasteful marketing efforts. Students are increasingly seen as little more than a source of profit by university boards, landlords and the owners of student halls and the other parasitic companies seeking to make profit from education and the student population.

We need an education system that responds to the needs of communities and society as a whole and is capable of training a new generation of young workers. Yet still, the college sector, where the majority of students are working class, is cut heavily, year on year. Apprenticeships have also faced a massive decline and attacks in the past decade. We face another forgotten generation with little to no hope of meaningful employment.

Marketisation, poor terms and conditions, poor pay and massive levels of inequality across the field have plagued the sector. Young academics are being cut in all fields and have little chance of achieving permanent contracts. As a result, student experience has dipped, and staff are being pushed to brink, with many having already left their profession. We send solidarity to the University and College Union members at 58 universities who will be striking for three days, 1 – 3 December 2021, in the fight to protect pay and conditions.

Students are in desperate need of class orientated politics in their schools and campuses that is relevant to their own struggles. Constantly, we hear that students are apathetic but we know this is untrue. Mainstream politics offer students nothing yet attempt to demand respect in return. This past year we have seen that students across the country are again standing up and saying enough is enough. We demand more.

In line with our Youth Charter, Britain’s Young Communists are fighting:

🔴 for state investment in schools, colleges and universities to address decades of austerity.

🔴 to scrap academies and free schools.

🔴 to integrate all religious, trust, academy and private schools into a unified and secular education system.

🔴 for the immediate abolition of tuition fees.

🔴 for free college and university education for all courses.

🔴 to replace student loans with a guaranteed bursary for all students.

🔴to reintroduce and extend Education Maintenance Allowance for students across Britain.

🔴 for a statutory right to affordable university and college accommodation for students on full time courses.

🔴 for investment in our libraries and free nationwide access for everyone under 30.

Join the struggle for free, secular, quality and accessible public education!

Join Britain’s Communists today!

In comradeship

Central Committee
Young Communist League

17 November 2021
London, Britain