Last year, the government sold off £900m worth of student debt for £160m to a private debt collector for all loans up to 1998.
Now, the government plans to sell off loans from the period 1998-2012, and this could happen by 2015 or sooner. Further, a leaked secret report made by Rothschild bank, advised the government to lift the cap on interest rates for loans, or even scrapping it all together. This would allow the loans to be more profitable for companies that buy the debt, and make loans retrospectively more expensive for the ex-students paying them back.
On top of rises to tuition fees, this forces students into more debt for higher education, and specifically puts those unable to afford education through their own money, or their parents money, into further debt.
This is why the Students Assembly Against Austerity have organised a week of action this week, to ignite a movement to oppose the sell-off.
Over 25 universities joined in a national day of action last year. This year, over 50 campuses are holding a week of action and occupation, and they have the support of the National Union of Students who have said they oppose the sell off.
Cops off Campus
As students unite to bring a halt to the sell off and put forward plans for a ‘democratic university’ they have also been the ones to defend the right to protest against heavy handed and violent police presence. At an occupation of Senate House, at the University of London, 41 people were arrested and some injured in clashes with police. A further rally followed calling for Cops off Campus, in protest at the force used against students.
The fight for the right to protest by exposing the high levels of police used to silence students has united protestors further, and grown the movement.
Week of Action
There is action, occupation and stunts happening throughout the week, with a call to people to contact MPs and a march on Friday to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
“As part of The Student Assembly Against Austerity’s national week of action to stop the sell-off of our student loans to private companies, students across London are uniting together to protest outside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills by doing a ‘debt in’.
Students will be ‘crushed by debt’ in this creative protest outside the department in charge of privatising student loans.
Mya Pope-Weidemann, Student Assembly Against Austerity organiser said:
“This is a direct attack on public education: handing over the tuition fees they said they needed to fund education, into the hands of private corporations. The sell off of the student loanbook will add to the financial burden of millions of graduates already struggling to make ends meet. And the potential for an exploding rate of debt will discourage poorer young people from applying to university in the future. Exploitation and privatisation is the face of austerity on campus – which the student wing of the People’s Assembly is building a movement to resist.”