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New President for Student Union has Passion for FE Sector

Hot on the heels of the recent FE White Paper, the National Union of Students” (NUS’s) campaign for increased learner representation has been given a major boost ““ with the election of new President Gemma Tumelty.

Her ambitious outlook includes pushing forward with the recently launched Coalition 2010 campaign, which seeks to cap top-up fees until 2008, when they are to be reviewed. Also on her agenda is the growing problem of privatisation in the sector, citing privately run halls of residence and outsourcing of canteen contracts as major issues.

A Critical Time

“I am absolutely delighted with the result and excited about taking up the position as NUS President at this critical time”, explains Gemma. Furthermore, she promises to continue the NUS” vehement drive for a greater student representation in FE, which culminated in the Union holding a lobby of parliament and tabling an Early Day Motion on increasing learner voices in colleges.

As NUS Vice President Ellie Russell explains: “We welcome the White Paper and its focus on the learner. As a former Further Education student, I know the frustrations of students who feel they just aren”t listened to by their colleagues”. She points out the importance of increased dialogue between teacher and student, saying: “By increasing involvement at every level, learners will finally feel that their opinions matter and are being taken on board.”

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A Strong Student Voice

This is something Gemma takes very seriously as well. Pledging her commitment to keep FE issues at the top of the NUS agenda, she intends to ensure that the recommendations are implemented. “We need to do more to re-engage students in political activism, by harnessing the energy and passion we”ve seen amongst students on single issue campaigns such as “Make Poverty History” and “Stop The War”,” she said.

Gemma seems capably versed in the experience of pressure. During the final year of her degree, she was elected as National Secretary for the period 2005-2006 and has continued the reform of the NUS and the Participate Priority campaign. “I look forward to taking on these fights and challenges and leading a National Union that wins for students,” she commented.

Vijay Pattni

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