From education to employment

Evening Launch of Key Campaigns for 2005 / 2006

Acting in the best traditions of the National Union of Students (NUS), President Kat Fletcher has announced the key campaigns for the coming year on behalf of the students of Britain.

A key element of the evening was the issue of top up fees, where the fees for university tuition from 2006 have been raised to anything up to £3,000. Fears were raised that this tuition fees cap would soon be raised, with one speaker referring to the opposing forces “already briefing against us” and a decision drawing near in 2008 / 2009. With the debt burden of students leaving education already huge (some figures referring to anything up to £30,000 per student), the NUS President has pledged that “whilst the battle may be over [the initial battle over tuition fees top ups], the war is far from over.”

Campaigning for Students

The launch took place at the Trade Union Congress (TUC) headquarters in London, and was attended by hundreds of student officers and key stakeholders from across the education sector. Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning, Bill Rammell MP, also attended the conference and gave a short speech to those gathered. He quoted a little Shelly and spoke of his broad support for the ideals of the NUS and the work they did.

However, in what is surely an early position statement on behalf of the government given Kat Fletcher’s statement that the war on tuition fees is far from won or lost, he refrained from saying he was in agreement with the NUS on all matters, re ““ stating on several occasions that there were several issues on which he and Kat Fletcher differed in their views.

It is surely not the case that the Government can find any fault in the new initiatives to promote social inclusion and to broaden access to education for anyone from any background. However, spokesperson Julian Nicholds, Campaign Convenor of On Course”¦For a Fairer Future and NUS Vice President of Education, referred to the local course closures that are denying access to localized pockets of the country without making a splash in the headlines. He said: “The closing of courses runs contrary to the aim of widening access to education that the government claims to be committed to.”

The NUS has a busy year ahead standing up for the rights of learners from all walks of life; it remains to be seen whether the various quantities of inertia and opposition that seem to lie in their path can be hurdled.

Jethro Marsh

The NUS stand up for learners; you stand up for yourself in the FE Blog

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