There are just three fridays to go until students and college staff across the country will descend on their local MPs' constituency surgeries and urge them to say 'NO 2 FE fees and loans'.
NUS, in conjunction with UCU and Unison, is holding a national day of action and constituency lobby on Friday 22 June.
At the moment, if you’re aged 24+ and you want to take A levels, or a BTEC, or a level 3 apprenticeship, the Government pays 50 per cent of your course fee. From September 2013, anyone aged 24 and above who wants to study a level 3 qualification will have to pay full fees.
Join the No 2 FE fees campaign by lobbying your local MP in your consituency on 22nd June. It's so easy - check out the fantastic www.no2fefees.org.uk for everything you need to know. The website allows you to send a constituency-specific letter to your MP, including the number of students who may be affected at your institution and details of the negative impact this government policy will have locally and regionally.
Q. I'm not in Further Education, so this has nothing to do with me, right?
A. Wrong! This is relevant to you, whether you are in Further Education or Higher Education. No to FE Fees is NUS' national priority campaign because FE fees are an absolutely MASSIVE issue, with the potential to change the entire demographic of higher education as we know it.
Access of mature students to higher education is under threat: Mature students in HE often acquire their highest pre-entry qualification later in life. Research recently conducted by NUS and Million+ suggests that nearly two thirds of mature students applying to a HE course with a level 3 qualification completed this qualification when they were aged 24 or over. The level 3 loans policy assumes a 20 per cent drop in participation of adults aged 24 and over in level 3 courses. But we know that adult learners in FE are more debt-averse than the average student - indeed a government survey said that two thirds wouldn't take out a loan to study at level 3 - so we fear the drop in participation will be much higher. The government's own impact assessment suggests a possible 40 per cent drop in participation.
The cumulative effect of taking out a loan for level 3 and then a loan for higher education will be an even greater deterrent.
Women will be disproportionately affected as they often return to study later in life after having a family. Those already economically disadvantaged such as BME and disabled students will be priced out of education. This will have a hugely negative impact on widening participation into HE.
If your university offers further education courses, your institution could experience a drop in participation from those aged 24 and above.
Also, remember that current HE students are prospective adult FE students. Both HE and FE students’ unions really should care about this and work in partnership to say No to FE fees. We simply can't win this fight without the support of students' unions in higher education. Please show solidarity with your FE counterparts and lobby your MP to oppose fees and loans in FE.
OK, so what can I do?
Join the NUS/UCU/Unison No 2 FE Fees National constituency lobby day on Friday 22 June - encourage as many of your students as possible to take part, and to let us know you're visiting your MP, please click here and fill in this form.
Contact other students' unions in your area and work with them to get as many people as possible lobbying their MPs on 22 June
Contact your local UCU, Unison and other trade union branches and work with them too
Join the #No2FEFees Twitter Twobby at noon on Friday 22 June. Tweet at your MP to say #No2FEFees, e.g. "@[yourMP] please say #No2FEFees #FElobby''. To find out if your MP is on Twitter see http://tweetminster.co.uk/mp
Get your friends and family involved – talk to them about the campaign and get them to email/lobby/twobby their MP too!
Spread the word - join the No 2 FE Fees Facebook event; tweet news and updates using #No2FEfees and #FElobby; download the No 2 FE fees logo and donate your Facebook/Twitter profile pic/ email signature to promote the campaign.
Further resources including posters, logos, twibbons, powerpoint presentations, and briefings on 'What's going on and what you can do about it', 'How to lobby your MP', 'How to get others involved', 'They say, we say' and 'Dealing with the Media' are also available at www.nusconnect.org.uk/no2FEfees.
Good luck. We’d love to hear about how you are campaigning on No 2 FE Fees – please let us know what you're doing by dropping us a line at email@example.com.