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National week of action against privatisation of student debt to take place in February

24th January 2014

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A week of action to protest against the privatisation of the student loans book has been organised for Monday 3rd – Friday 7th of February.

Organised by campaign group the Student Assembly Against Austerity, the week will see various events taking place at around 50 universities and colleges across the country.

The week, which is being supported by the NUS, will culminate with a protest outside the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills in Central London on the Friday.

In November the government began the process of selling off £900m worth of student loans that had been taken out before 1998 to a private debt collector, for £160m.

There are plans to continue the sell-off, meaning student loans taken out as recently as 2012 are likely to be placed in private hands by 2015.

NUS Black Students’ Officer and spokesperson for the Student Assembly Against Austerity, Aaron Kiely, says: “The government’s plan to sell off the student loan book to private companies is the latest outrageous attack on students and education which will affect millions of people. 

“In response the student movement is uniting to step up the campaign to stop the government in its tracks.

“This national week of action will see a wave of protests, rallies, mass petitioning and creative direct action sweep across 50 campuses in what will be a serious escalation of our campaign.

"Students must get involved in this united, national protest if they do not wish to see their student debt soar once they graduate.

“As a secret report for the government has confirmed, to ensure the student loan book is profitable for private companies the cap on interest for repayments would need to be increased. This means graduates would face years more of repayments on our loans.  To put it bluntly, this proposal would lead to a retrospective hike in tuition fees.”

The Student Assembly Against Austerity states on its website that “The government’s onslaught against students and wider society is the biggest attack on ordinary people for generations. We must fight it head on.”

The website also contains a page that offers resources to fight the sell-off, as well as a downloadable ‘activist guide.’

A Facebook event inviting students to take part in the week of action currently has almost 2,500 attendees.

You can find out more about the Student Assembly Against Austerity here.

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