We must get off the learn-to-earn treadmill

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From today’s Guardian, from a great many signatories, me included:

We write in support of Michael Chessum's article (Today is our 1968 moment, 9 December). There is widespread anger over the government's higher education reforms because they represent the final transformation of our education system from a public into a private good. What we are witnessing is just the latest and sharpest manifestation of the remorseless process of commercialisation of our lives that creates insecurity, anxiety and sheer exhaustion because it piles all the pressure of coping on us as individuals.

Since the 1980s universities and schools have been steadily marketised, and pupils and students commodified. This instrumentalism is such a narrow view of what it means to be human and to be educated. That is why campaigns like UK Uncut, which links corporate tax avoidance to the rebalancing of our depleted public finances, are critical both morally and practically.

Students don't have to be told that we are all in it together. They know it. The students know that education maintenance allowance is critical for young people from low-income families who now attend FE colleges and that cleaners on their campuses should be paid a living wage. The political class may choose to forget, but we don't, that it was the greed of the banks and the free market regime handed to them by our politicians that tipped the nation's finances into crisis.

We start from the belief that education cannot just be a debt trap on a learn-to-earn treadmill that we never get off as the retirement age is extended. Education in our good society is a universal public good which all must explore to reach their fullest potential. It is about the protection and extension of a precious public realm where we know each other not as consumers and competitors but as citizens and co-operators. What is happening is wrong and we must say so in every legal and peaceful way we can – in parliament, in the media, in the all sites of education and on the streets.

Neal Lawson Chair of Compass

Brendan Barber General secretary of TUC

Aaron Porter President of NUS

Sally Hunt General secretary of UCU

Christine Blower General secretary of NUT

Len McCluskey Unite general secretary designate

Tony Woodley Joint general secretary of Unite

Dave Prentis General secretary of Unison

SOAS Occupation

King's College Occupation

Tremough Occupation

Save EMA Campaign

Caroline Lucas Green party MP for Brighton Pavilion

Jon Cruddas Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham

Councillor Sam Tarry Chair of Young Labour

Professor Richard Grayson Goldsmiths, University of London, and former Liberal Democrat candidate

Gavin Hayes General secretary, Compass

Joe Cox Campaigns organiser, Compass

Cat Smith Chair of Compass Youth

Lisa Nandy Labour MP for Wigan

Eric Illsley Labour MP for Barnsley Central

Bill Esterson Labour MP for Sefton Central

Katy Clark Labour MP for North Ayrshire and Arran

Cllr Rupert Read Green party

Cllr Willie Sullivan Labour party

Sian Berry Former Green candidate for London mayor

Adam Ramsay No Shock Doctrine for Britain

Zita Holbourne Joint chair, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts

Lee Jasper Joint chair, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts

Richard Murphy Tax Research LLP

Clifford Singer False Economy

Sunny Hundal Editor, Liberal Conspiracy:

Howard Reed Director, Landman Economics

Martin Dore General secretary, Socialist Educational Association

Anthony Barnett Founder, openDemocracy

Dr Alan Finlayson Swansea University

Jonathan Glennie Research fellow, Overseas Development Institute

Dr Jeremy Gilbert UEL

Prof Ruth Lister Loughborough University

Prof Stefano Harney QMUL

Prof Martin Parker Warwick Business School

Prof Malcolm Sawyer University of Leeds

Prof Prem Sikka University of Essex

Prof Peter Case UWE

Prof Gregor Gall University of Hertfordshire

Prof Christine Cooper University of Strathclyde

Svetlana Cicmil UWE

Fabian Frenzel UWE

Dr Steffen Boehm University of Essex

Dr Paul Warde UEA

Dr Lee Marsden UEA

Prof Howard Stevenson University of Lincoln

Prof Michael Fielding Institute of Education

Dr David Toke University of Birmingham

Yiannis Gabriel University of Bath

Prof George Irvin SOAS

Armin Beverungen UWE

Dr David Cunningham University of Westminster

Stevphen Shukaitis University of Essex

Kevin Brehony Royal Holloway

Gabrielle Ivinson Cardiff University

Dr Michael Collins UCL

Pat Devine University of Manchester

Dr Joe Street Northumbria University

Judith Suissa Institute of Education

Jonathan Perraton University of Sheffield

Jo Brewis University of Leicester

Stephen Dunne University of Leicester

Jo Grady University of Leicester

Dr Marie Lall Institute of Education

Anoop Bhogal University of Leicester

Stuart White Jesus College, Oxford

Dr Chris Grocott University of Birmingham

Mark Perryman University of Brighton

Prof David Parker University of Leeds

Prof Ken Spours Institute of Education

Chris Edwards UEA

Nicola Pratt University of Warwick

Dr David Harvie University of Leicester

Dr Priyamvada Gopal University of Cambridge

Michael Edwards UCL

Dr Ben Little Middlesex University

Hugh Willmott Cardiff Business School

Dr Gareth Stockey University of Nottingham

Prof William Outhwaite University of Newcastle

Matthew McGregor Student officer, Sheffield University 2001-02

Prof Simon Lilley University of Leicester

Katherine Corbett Middlesex University SU arts and education chair

Dr A Kemp-Welch UEA

Graham Lane Former chair of LGA education committee

Prof Robert Hampson

Prof Sally Tomlinson

David Ritter

Laurie Penny

Anne Coddington

Rebecca Hickman

Martin Yarnit

Byron Taylor

Nick Dearden

Victor Anderson

Rosemary Bechler

Dan Taubman