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From: The Socialist issue 1110, 18 November 2020: Tories in turmoil... ‘Reset’ the whole system! Fight for socialism

Search site for keywords: Universities - Student - Tories - Students - Travel - Government - Lockdown

Tories student 'evacuation' plan will not work

Provide resources for students to return home safely

Person in a mask

Person in a mask   (Click to enlarge)

Bea Gardner, Southampton Socialist Students

The government has finally announced its plans to allow students in England to travel to their non-term time addresses for Christmas. The plans have been imposed on students with no consultation, generate even more uncertainty, and do nothing to alleviate the stress of those currently trapped in student halls.

The plans place an enormous burden of work on university staff with few, if any, resources allocated by the government to support the operation, and next-to-no time to do it. Students will be allocated a 'travel slot' anytime from 3 to 9 December.

The government is allocating a limited number of 'rapid result' Covid tests. But not all students are being tested before they travel. Consequently, students are actually deterred from getting a test, through fear of being forced to self-isolate for another 14 days.

All students were sent a letter from the university minister at the start of the England lockdown, urging them to remain at their term-time address. Now they are being told that, as soon as that lockdown ends, they must travel on a date and time given to them, regardless of personal circumstances, including work and other commitments.

The government has told universities to work with businesses "to discourage opportunities for students to socialise" prior to their travel slot.

Students face a month of lockdown in their rooms, with only minimal in-person classes, and limited possibility to socialise at the end of it, whether or not they actually intend to leave campus over Christmas. Understandably, many are simply ignoring the government's plea and returning home now.

It should be possible for students to safely travel between their term-time and home addresses with no academic detriment. But the privatised test-and-trace system has failed.

Test-and-trace must be brought back into the public sector, fully funded and with the democratic oversight of workers, the community and local authorities - and not run for profit.

University bosses are determined some in-person teaching goes ahead up until the travel window, so they can justify £9,250-a-year tuition fees and huge accommodation rents. It is motivated by desperation to get hold of students' cash at the expense of our health and safety.

We need free education and democratically decided rent control on housing. We need democratic staff and student oversight of the return plans and teaching provision for after Christmas.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

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Article dated 18 November 2020

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Leicester picket on the 21st strike day (22nd Feb) of around 7,000 British Gas engineers.  They are fighting against

Leicester picket on the 21st strike day (22nd Feb) of around 7,000 British Gas engineers. They are fighting against 'fire and rehire' - designed to worsen terms and conditions. Photo by Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party

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