With students across the country returning to University, this week’s blog looks at the long history and numerous links between student organisations and the AAM.
The AAM’s first success in winning unequivocal support for its policies in a mass membership organisation was in the student movement. In 1971 the National Union of Students and the AAM set up a network to co-ordinate student campaigns. The aim was to recruit representatives at every British university and college.
Over the next decade students at nearly every university and college in Britain organised some form of anti-apartheid action. Students organised protests against the arrest of student leaders in South Africa and at more than half of all colleges students called on the university authorities to sell shareholdings in British companies with South African interests. The NUS set up a Southern Africa liberation fund and unions at many universities raised money for scholarships for South African students. Thousands of students took part in anti-apartheid campaigns, building a reservoir of people who later took up anti-apartheid issues in their jobs and professions.
Here are just a few examples:
(Above) Demonstrators marched through central London on June 18 1977 to mark the first anniversary of the Soweto uprising. The march was organised by the National Union of Students and National Union of School Students, with support from the AAM.
(Above) The cover of a booklet telling the story of Hull students’ campaign to make the university sever its links with the food company Reckitt & Colman because of the company’s operations in South Africa. The Hull sit-in was one of many disinvestment campaigns in the 1970s.
(Above) In October 1972 Manchester University students asked the university authorities to sell shares in companies with South African interests. This broadsheet publicised a picket of a meeting of the University Council called to discuss the university’s investment policy in February 1973. When the Council referred the issue to its investment sub-committee, students protested by occupying the administration building.
(Above) Every year through the 1970s and early 1980s the NUS-AAM network held an annual conference to discuss campaign priorities. This is the report of the second conference, held at Aston University, Birmingham in July 1973. It was attended by 80 delegates representing 24 colleges. Student action concentrated on disinvestment from Southern Africa, fundraising for the liberation movements, campaigning for political prisoners and the cultural, academic, sports and consumer boycotts.
(Above) A Southampton University Student Union banner on a march to Trafalgar Square calling for an end to British Arms sales to South Africa and a freeze on investment, 6 March 1977.
Information and images sourced from: