University of York Students' Union (YUSU)


Should YUSU support free education?

Posted by Benjamin Leatham, 18/11/2015

I’m excited to announce that next week (Week 9) we’ll be having our first referendum of this academic year. You might remember that an Idea about free education was submitted by our Socialist Society and went through our policy process in the first half of this term. Well, the feedback we got from the student body suggested that this was a topic about which you’re all very passionate - there was support for the idea of free education, but also hesitancy and questions about how such a policy would be implemented.

So we’ve decided to let you all have your say in a referendum. The question is;

‘Should YUSU support free education?’


The Facebook Event can be found here.

Key Dates;

  • REFERENDUM DEBATE, 6pm - Tuesday 24th - held in P/T/005. It will be chaired by Callum Furness the Policy Coordinator.
  • VOTING OPENS, 9am -Wednesday 25th
  • VOTING CLOSES, 5pm - Friday 27th

So get involved, and have your say!

Below is some further information for you all;

Statement from Yes Campaign;

The average student debt at graduation is now £44k. This, with added interest, will eat away at your wages over the next three decades of work. The alternative is Free Education: we should fund everyone's learning through the progressive taxing of corporate profits and the unearned incomes of the super-rich. Rising fees are just part and parcel of rising inequality, and yet another symptom of universities being seen more as businesses than as public bodies for sharing knowledge. The union needs to resist this model of education in order to represent our long-term interests as students. Thanks for reading.


Statement from No Campaign;

Our argument against YUSU supporting so-called “free education” is twofold. Firstly, the concept itself is flawed. Taxpayer subsidised education provably fails to solve inequality, as we can see from the lower numbers of poorer students in higher education in Scotland. Furthermore, we suggest that those who work, either as an alternative to or beyond HE, should not be forced to subsidise the significant personal benefits of those who attend university. Secondly, even if you feel these points to be wrong, YUSU must still not take a position, as it imposes a view held by a limited number of students on all of us, to the detriment of our right to represent ourselves.

(NB: If you’re interested in joining either campaign team please email:

What would happen if it became Active Policy?

If this Idea were to become Active Policy it would mean that;

  1. Full-Time Officers, NUS Delegates and other reps would support and advocate free education motions/policies etc at conferences, meetings and other bodies specific to their positions
  2. YUSU and the Officer Team would support national and regional demonstrations held in support of free education - this would include;
    1. Subsidised transport where possible, and promotion of such, to ensure that students of all backgrounds can attend if they so wish.
    2. Promotion of demonstrations, campaigns etc to the York student body
  3. YUSU would look to campaign and build support for the principles of Free Education both within the York student body and as part of the larger student movement.
  4. It would not mean that the University of York was obliged to drop tuition fees