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Campaign for Free Education

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The Campaign for Free Education (often abbreviated CFE) was a left-wing grouping in the National Union of Students of the United Kingdom of those opposed to tuition fees and the abolition of student grants.

The coalition was founded in 1995 in opposition to proposals by Labour Students and the Organised Independents for the NUS to abandon its opposition to the abolition of student grants. Although initially a broad based campaign encompassing many from across the spectrum the organisation moved towards a stronger left-wing position, pushed by student members of the Alliance for Workers Liberty who had been amongst the founders.

Support for CFE was particularly strong at Huddersfield Polytechnic where in 1996 a benefit CD called "No Compromize" was organised by music organisation Chocolate Fireguard. Featured music included Suede, Senser, Dreadzone, Northern Uproar, Zion Train, Kava Kava (band), June 2011, Marion, Transglobal Underground, Intastella, Fun-Da-Mental, Eat Static, Cud, X-CNN, The Wedding Present, Utah Saints, Revolutionary Dub Warriors, Banco Da Gaia, Chumbawamba, Loop Guru, Ukrainians, Tony Benn, Autechre, Moonflowers (band). The Music Industry got further behind the CFE when music magazines NME and Melody Maker revealed that members of the NUS wrote to the various artists asking them not to support the CFE in this way. "No Compromize" went on to be released through independent record label Delerium Records.

The CFE maintained a continuous presence of NUS executive members, being particularly strong in the LGBT and Women's Campaigns. They saw successive NUS Conferences pass policy in line with their positions on opposing tuition fees and top-up fees, but continued to complain that the NUS National Executive Committee did not actively fight for this. The CFE often stood candidates for the major NEC positions in a coalition slate with various groups including the Student Broad Left, the Socialist Workers' Students' Society and the National Black Students' Alliance but generally won only one position out of six at most in successive years. Several of the successful candidates, whether from the CFE or other groups, subsequently publicly fell out with their original supporters, weakening the organisation.

In 2004, Kat Fletcher, standing for the CFE, was elected as the first non-Labour Students backed NUS President in twenty years. However, she left the group shortly afterwards and moved towards the right wing of the organisation. The CFE gradually declined until its remaining activists took part in the founding of a new, Education Not for Sale network.


Campaign for Free Education Wikipedia

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