Education Not for Sale
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The name originally derives from the "European Education Not for Sale network" and was first used by socialist and other radical activists at the National Union of Students of the United Kingdom conference in April 2005 who wanted to organise a left-wing pole of attraction opposed to both what they saw as the "right-wing" NUS leadership's betrayals on top-up fees, and groups on the left which they felt had betrayed consistent left-wing principles on issues such as both universal human rights and cultural relativism, and supporting workers and women against both US/UK "imperialism" and Islamist terror in Iraq.
The organisation was formally founded at a conference at the University of East London in September 2005, and refounded with a substantially more radical and extensive political programme at the Reclaim the Campus conference at Birkbeck, University of London in May 2008.
Activists are also involved in a variety of left-wing labour movement-oriented campaigns, such as Students Against Sweatshops/No Sweat and Workers' Climate Action, and claim to support a united left in the British student movement and NUS.
ENS claims to be a successor to the Campaign for Free Education (CFE), although it involves almost none of the same activists. Like CFE, it has the support of the small Trotskyist group, the Alliance for Workers' Liberty, and it also involves activists from a variety of other left-wing political backgrounds and organisations, left-wing Labour Party members, independent socialists, members of the Revolution group, members of the Green Party of England and Wales and a number of student activists from an anarchist background.
ENS has held numerous open steering committees; however, its second conference proper took place in May 2006, at Sussex University. On October 21 2006 its women's section initiated a feminist activist conference, Feminist Fightback, in central London, which was attended by around 220 people. A few days later, ENS supporters at Cambridge University organised the first student occupation in the UK in protest at the introduction of top-up fees, occupying the Sidgwick Site Lecture Hall for 12 hours. The second Feminist Fightback event, held at the University of East London in October 2007, attracted 300 activists, and led to the founding of Feminist Fightback as an activist campaign, involving workers and non-student activists as well as ENS Women. A third conference was organised in 14 February 2009, this time involving not only Feminist Fightback, but the anarchist-leaning Feminist Activist Forum, the Left Women's Network (linked to the Labour Representation Committee) and other groups.
One member of ENS, Daniel Randall, was elected to the UK National Union of Students executive committee in 2005, and when he stood down in 2006 was replaced by two ENS members, Sofie Buckland and Joe Rooney. In 2007, Sofie Buckland was returned as a block of twelve member of the NEC, and in 2008 she came within four votes of winning NUS Women's Officer in the second round of voting due to a deal on transferring voted between ENS and Student Broad Left in a bid to oust Labour Students from the campaign. After losing her election Buckland successfully stood for Women's Committee.
ENS held their third conference in May 2008 at Birkbeck, University of London. Held under the banner of 'Reclaim The Campus', the conference attracted around 75 activists, debated a variety of policy, agreed a new "where we stand" statement and elected a new steering committee for the campaign.
ENS held its fourth and final conference in October 2009, where its activists voted to actively support the building of a "National Convention Against Fees and Cuts". The Convention, held in February 2010, would attract over 150 students and launched the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. ENS formally dissolved itself into the NCAFC soon after.