From education to employment

NUS’s Ellie Russell Discusses the Path Before FE in 2006

The National Union of Students (NUS) has been at the forefront of FE activism this year, promoting awareness of issues faced by students nationwide. We at FE News are delighted that Ellie Russell, Vice President of FE for the NUS, was willing to talk to us about what she sees as the significant issues for 2006.


Question: “If you had to choose three things for FE’s Santa to bring for 2006, what would they be?”

Ellie Russell: “Fair Funding for Colleges: The funding gap between schools and colleges needs to be closed and we will continue to campaign for this to happen.

“Better funding for Students” Unions in the FE Sector: NUS research published this year highlighted the shocking under funding of Students” Unions. Unions, where they exist, receive on average only 0.02 per cent of their college budget. Just a 0.03 per cent increase would make all the difference.

“EMA legislation: We will continue to campaign for changes in legislation to the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMAs) to ensure that students aren”t penalised for taking part in student activities.”

Question: “What is the agency / organisation other than your own that you expect to be most heavily involved in furthering FE in 2006?”

Ellie Russell: “Local Students Unions ““ particularly if Foster’s vision is put into practise and we see a strengthened learner voice at local level, with students sitting on Learning and Skills Councils (LSCs).”

Question: “What changes do you fear will affect FE negatively in the coming year?”

Ellie Russell: “With vast increases in fees, we may well see the disappearance of Access courses, not just those that provide a pathway to Higher Education but also in skills areas like NVQs at Levels 3 and 4. This is a great worry and will have a huge impact on the widening participation agenda. There will undoubtedly be more devastating cuts to Adult Learning provision ““ again a real contradiction considering the government’s emphasis on lifelong learning.”

Question: “Which of next year’s conferences do you think will be the most exciting / interesting and why?”

Ellie Russell: “We are looking forward to see what Leitch has to say in his Skills review.”

Our thanks to Ellie Russell for contributing to this series here at FE News, and our best wishes for 2006.

Jethro Marsh

Read Ellie Russell’s memories of FE in 2005 right here at FE News!

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