From education to employment

SU President wins pivotal NUS role for FE


A former Student Union President has trumped competition to become the new National Union of Students’ Vice President for Further Education.

Shane Chowen, former City College Plymouth A-level student, received an 88 per cent majority of the vote.

After being elected SU President at Plymouth he decided what he called "this students’ union lark," should be taken seriously.

He can now look forward to representing further education in the biggest student representative organisation in the world.

The landslide victory places him in a position to lobby for better policies he says are much needed in the FE sector. In an interview with the NUS, he said the government was out of touch with adult education, and if he could change one thing he would make further education fully funded.

He called financial concerns the biggest challenge facing students today and said financial assistance is needed to curb education being damaged.

"I’ve seen adults turned away from my college during open evenings because the course they want to do is too expensive or doesn’t exist anymore," said Mr Chowen.

Lobbying government to change its policy was a component of his winning manifesto, which also included the right to re-skill at work, an end to the financial fiasco through the use of financial assistance and honing in on the learners’ voice.

He also highlighted the importance that students will play in the event of an economic upturn when a skilled workforce will be in demand.

"Too often, we link the recession to industry, bankers and politics- the focus has to be on students if we’re going to see the skilled workforce we need when the economy picks up again," he said.

Mr Chowen had a taste of his forthcoming role last year when he convened with ministers after his appointment by the government to sit on the National Learner Panel. The panel consults with learners to asses their views on FE policies, initiatives and proposals.

According to Mr Chowen, learners should play a strong role in the policy process and now more than ever we need to be investing in the Learner Involvement Agenda.

Viv Gillespie, Principal at City College Plymouth, said Shane has shown strength, determination and passion for representing Plymouth students in further education.

"I’m sure his new post will see him delivering for every student in the country," she said.

Sophie Knowles

(Pictured: Shane Chowen, new NUS Vice President for FE)

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