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The NUS conference passed some excellent motions this week such as a national autumn demo and also

an ‘FE walkout’ over EMA. What form this walkout will take remains to be seen but as an FE student at the largest 6th form in Colchester (3600) I feel I must highlight some problems that will face anti-cuts activists who are trying to build for this. 1) EMA is generally not the biggest priority for 6th formers, tuition fees are. My year is the first year not have EMA and so one would think this would be at the forefront of everyones mind. Not the case, EMA is rarely mentioned if ever but the 300% rise in tuition fees is always mentioned in virtually every political discussion in and outside the classroom so rallying students round this issue is unlikely to get much momentum. 2) EMA was and is a divisive issue among FE students. Many benefitted from EMA but there were also many who didn’t qualify for it leaving a lot of resentment against those that do, they saw it as free money that they weren’t allowed to have, so an issue like this simply doesn’t have support from large swathes of FE students many of whom took part in the antifees protest but shed no tears when EMA was axed. Tuition fees is something 100% of FE students are united against 3) There’s no real momentum anymore. When it was announced that fees were to rise it came literally out of nowhere, everyone was shocked and angry and there was a genuine momentum behind it, there was a genuine mass movement vast majority of whom had never had anything to do with politics but were suddenly doing things like occupying the high street! However, that was two years ago (three by the time of this next walkout), all the students involved in those protests will have left but more importantly most students in my year have accepted defeat, fees rose, EMA was cut and the lack of activity in between has led to students accepting defeat. 4) How the hell are we supposed to organise this? Mine (and most other 6th forms) have no SU meaning that the NUS can offer us no real help in organising this. There are a good few committed activists in college but we don’t even have the capacity/resources to even let everyone know that such an event is happening! There is no structural organisation that encompasses and has access to all students, there is some crappy ‘college council’ but that has no authority other than calling for more toilet roll in the loos . Were there a real momentum on this issue and in the wider FE student movement this could still be successful even without an SU but as I mentioned earlier, the wind in the sails of the FE student movement very much died after the tuition fee bill passed.

The only way I can envisage this working is if the NUS national demo is before any FE walkouts because then at least there should be some momentum which is all important in mobilising otherwise non-political people. .I look forward to working on this and how it will pan out is anyone’s guess but I hope I can outline some of the barriers to this becoming a successful event.