National Convention Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) Minutes Saturday 5th June 2010, UCL, 1pm-4.

30pm

Summary of Key Decisions - Convention planned for November 6th - Setting up of Communications, Education Workers, Schools and Finance committees - Fringe meeting at Marxism 2010, followed by NCAFC planning meeting - up to £250 to be donated towards the Sussex 6 fund _______________ Present Students from UCL, Leeds, Middlesex, London Met, University of the Arts London, Westminster, Cambridge, Schools of Advanced Studies, Oxford, Oxford Brookes, Cherwell 6th form college. Also present, non-student activists from Workers' Power, Alliance for Workers' Liberty & NUS. Agenda Feedback from Campuses National Discussion Women's Liberation Campaign

[15 minute break] Marxism 2010 National Demo Convention in the Autumn Committees

_________________

Feedback from Campuses

UCL - Modern language review lost. Students have gone home - Biding time till the Autumn - Some left wing activists in the SU - Support for UCU strike, although it didn't go ahead

Leeds - Cancelled strikes, lost momentum. 6 people at the AGM - Campaign around the Classics department - Traditional bad SU exec. next year - Biological Science students are organising, but many finalists and MA students

Middlesex - 3 occupations, 3 lecturers suspended, 4 students - only philosophy students involved so far - Threats of expulsions - SU president called the occupations 'despicable' - UCU in dispute, but no visible action yet

Westminster - Dispute over 185 job losses - Strike as pat of the London wide strike. patchy: some campuses held, others had a lot of scabbing - good mobilisation after student persecution - now a UCU marking boycott. Management are docking pay 50% for boycotters. - internally, UCU re recognising job losses - waiting to see what happens over the Summer - some jobs saved in Computing

SOAS - Governing Body papers show 50% of Humanities are under threat - SU not seeing it the 'restructuring' for what it is - Management blame HEFCE - Perhaps we need a campaign against RAE, and about what education is for

Oxford Brooks - Oxford anti-cuts campaign only has 3 students left because of finalists leaving - SU exec is apathetic, but friends - There's an SU rep on the local Trades' Council - conversation with the local SWP activists

Queen Mary's (QMUL) - Autonomous group meeting invited UCU reps - Transpired that management had seen the posters - UCU made legal threats over cuts - Consequentially the management has gone back on the planned cuts (around 100) - fear that the cuts will be brought in through 'restructuring' over the Summer - many of the current activists are leaving

University of the Arts London - Strike last Thursday, good attendance from staff, not a good student turn out - cuts still going ahead - overall service cuts of Central St Martins in building and more - nursery being cut - not enough opposition - UCU appealing to the QAA, collecting student surveys - supportive SU from the Summer

Sussex - Sussex 6 are being fined a total of £1650 - Donations are being asked for - UCU congress have collected £800 - Any extra will go to UCU strike fund - UCU boycott being called - National grey listing being attempted - Sorting for Fresher’s Fair, etc. - getting working groups sorted before September - Defend Education autonomous students and Sol Fed conference went well, good chances of working together

Kings College London (KCL) - UCU had 3 days of strike - Negotiations ended Friday. Unaware of any news from them.

- possible just a deal of humanities. if not, possible assessment boycott. - student campaign wanted to have an EGM for SU ti support UCU, but SU kept changing the rules to make this difficult - waiting till next year, hopes to try and democratise SU

Schools of Advances Study (SAS) - still unionised, ULU extremely unhelpful - support for Middlesex and KCL

London Met - just lost last nursery; no support from the SU - mixed left/right SU next year - a few activists, quite scattered

Cambridge - Piecemeal minor cuts - asking staff to work more hours for the same pay; not a rallying point - UCU blocked changes to academic security; now pushing for recognition - incoming SU team very split - decentralisation makes SU weak and fact finding difficult

Report from London School Students' Union (LSSU) - break for exams tam - good benefit gig was held, which got lots of people involved - looking to set up a campaign around academies

Report from the European Education Congress - Hippyesque, anarchish camp - good networking - built a kind of facebook for education activists, especially good for places like Croatia and Bulgaira which are undergoing the same problems through the Bologna process - New meeting coming up in Barcelona in September (dates tic) - Wave/week of action in October called

_________________________

National Discussion

Ed (AWL) - Bologna ect over summer, management are continuing on our disorganisation - we know there will be fees, academies and cuts - this year there was action around march, and we can predict action again in october - places like sas, and the met in london should get extra help from london sabs - good links have been made with the labour movement - we need to communicate with trade unions through the summer for action in autumn

Dan (AWL) - there will be a stepping up of managers like U-UK over fees - -russell group is saying scrap the cap - we've had diverse campaigns so far, but not a national campaign over free education for five years - there is the generation that take fees for granted - -how do we use the people we have to form a wider and more difficult campaign

Richard (Leeds) - we need recruitment of new activists - maybe we need a discussion around a national strategy for freshers fairs

John (Workers Power) - it will be more like 12 or 15 billion£ cuts - we're seeing more of a drive on competition between unis - money out of the arts, and into business - as soon as the election results were announced labour students ran a campaign of opportunism against lib deem students - nus convention shows that even the careerists will be moving against cuts - because they organise widely, we may be able to organise against cuts through nus - National demo through Right to Work etc? - Build a huge demo against cuts in October

Rachel (UEA) - when will the Brown Review be announced? - what can we do alongside Right to Work? - we need to win the propaganda war - Nationally co-ordinated talks on free education

Simon (Westminster) - Political program of the coalition is for a radically different education in 4 or 5 years - Continuation of the neo-liberal agenda with anti-Union rhetoric - Attacks on state school and the National Curriculum - We should seek to organise school students - We should send more people to these international conferences: they're fighting the fights we once fought - political alignment in the student movements with the abandoing of the Lib Dems - Though the current NUS regime will have to be more antagonistic through internal reforms

Tali (LSSU) - On fees: we may have to make arguments that tuition fees are the lesser of 2 evils

Alice (Sussex) - building local groups has been strong - but mobilising around cuts builds nationally

Clare (SOAS) - Internationsl increase of the far-right need to be addressed - we need to make arguments that are political - a lot of success has been from anti-war movements (e.g. the Gaza occupations) - positive example of NUS LGBT conference voting against fees - we need to find a way to work with and not clash with the NUS, the EAN (Education Activists' Network), and also London centric initiatives like ULU

Jack (QMUL) - If we need to recruit new activists then we have to identify small winnable actions to engage and keep people - the big demo idea is good, and we can be effective in calling for that

Dan (AWL) - Call for a National Demo is good, but we need longer, i.e. we could do it be February - so let's start with a convention - NUS: yes to a united front, but we should be sober about what opportunities exist - there's no reason to have separate networks: we should unite with EAN etc.

Patrick (Sussex) - Cuts over the summer should be written in a zine for the freshers - we shouldn't call a national demo, because Trade unions etc have better mobilising power - early action in October is easier and has more payback than a national demo

Tali (LSSU) - film showings, public meetings etc are good for education etc - yes, it would be good to unite wiuth other campaigns but unlikely and so long as we work together practically all is fine

Clare (SOAS) - Both campaigns have advantages. We're student led, but we don't have the trade union links the EAN has - If we were to wait for the Trade Unions, however, we'd never get anywhere

(Leeds) - Leeds students are already putting together a zine

Jade (AWL/ Westminster) - suggestion of speaker tour like the Sussex 6 but with NCAFC instead

Ed (AWL) - These campaigns started with people finding out about the local cuts - Rather than a National zine, we should have local ones - Regional meetings with speaker swaps might be better than a speaker tour - A unified programme of education in september would be good

Rachel (UEA) - Regional meetings are easier said than done - e.g. Essex have always been drawn into London rather than be 'East' ___________________________

Women's Liberation meeting report - Long but good meeting - focus on nursery cuts, ESOL’s, ethnic minorities and LGBTQ issues - NCAFC Women's Liberation statement:

Who NCAFC Women's Liberation is a group of individuals concerned with how cuts particularly effect women

What Committed to fighting cuts to nurseries, ESOL, and other welfare services within the education community

Why Cuts have particular effects on women, particularly minority women, and for a space where women can engage with issues

How Contacting women's groups, lobbying sabbaticals for women's groups, lobbying women's officers at all Universities, contacting the NUS women's campaign, and holding regular meetings in different regions to engage locally ___________________________

[15 minute break] ___________________________ Marxism 2010 - We can book a room nearby rather than asking permission to be within the conference - in ULU. Mike to book room and make flyers - we could instead hold a joint EAN meeting - Mike can book the room, we can invite them, and see what happens

- we need to go to the NUS meetings, but make the criticisms of NUS lack of antifees policy - Comms team to make leaflet and sign up sheet (unclear as to whether this is for the EAN meeting or the NUS meeting) ____________________________

Convention in the Autumn - we'll always end up clashing with something - we should set a date and invite the EAN, though they'll say no - we shouldn't be morally blackmailed by the SWP into dissolving - we're not competing for slots; instead we should appeal to join forces - we should build both through local groups and invite national campaigns - Solidarity Federation conference in Sussex talked about holding a similar convention in November - we should invite groups to take ownership - November 6th (rather than October 30th) decided by vote. 22 for, 3 against. - what name? NCAFC? - we should have an open submission for workshops and motions - we'll have infrastructural things to do as well - open submissions for motions will be disempowering after October actions - inviting people to our conference is different from building it with people - end of day plenary, then motions and elections - same structure as the last convention - we should have open slots and leave the space open for people to use - we could have regional meetings to help decide the agenda - discussion over whether regional meetings work - decision to have a London organising meeting for the convention after the fringe meeting at Marxism 2010 National Demo - we should be pushing NUS and EAN (through Mark Bergfeld) to call a demo - we should push for it as the NUS emergency meeting - international global week of action in October - we can't pull one off in October without the NUS - smaller actions are good, and build from that to a demo - Gloucester called a BBQ outside the Exec's offices, 2 people started the UAL sit-in - calling a demo without the forces to back it up is sometimes a good idea

________________________ Committees - Proposal for School, Education Workers, Communication and Finance committees

Communications group to write letter of Unity - we need unity on a call for unity first - organisational unity is contentious - the language has to be carefully done - substantially, we say 'we're doing this conference, if you do the same, we'll build for it' - we should say that we should work together, but without a call to merge - there isn't enough space for 2 separate projects - we're talking about meetings and committees, but what about action, actual militancy? (much agreement) - let's call for unity over the conference, but leave the call in general to later

Tabitha and Patrick to set up the Comms committee

Rachel to set up School committee (academies campaign)

Mark, Jade, Joana and Dan to set up the Finance committee

- discussion about Southwark and Lambeth union branches, which have affiliated - allowance given for finance group to write a short, non-binding constitution for the purposes of a bank account - agreement to make a donation to Sussex 6 of £100 - £250, depending on finances and ENS donation - discussion about affiliations, which the Finance group is to handle - we should make clear what affiliation means and what rights it gives unions - concern about the idea of becoming a membership based and affiliation based project - Union branches have already affiliated, so this is an issue that has been forced upon us - confusion over the overlapping of the Education Workers group and the Affiliation role

- suggestion that people should come with written proposals, and that Dan should go and write a document which we can finalise later on the way affiliations can work

Ed to set up Education Workers' committee (along with Alice, Rachel, Mike, Ed, Mark and Jade)

Proposal from Simon about an academic boycott of Israel Discussion about time restraints and process of the proposal No agreement attempted

ENDS

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