A guest blog from Bradford College Students' Union on how they are mobilising for the June 22nd NUS/ UCU/ Unison national constituency lobby day....
Here at Bradford College over 500 students will be affected by the proposed implementation of an FE loans system for adult learners over the age of 24, almost 100 of which are on access to Higher Education courses, and therefore could be subject to 2 student loans. Of course this only covers a snapshot of those willing to pay for a level 3 qualification, there are a great many ‘would be’ students who do not have the capability to pay these fees and through no fault of their own were forced into work at an early age but are now wanting to gain qualifications that they believe will benefit their futures.
It is for this reason that we at Bradford College Students’ Union have answered the call from NUS to lobby MPs in our local area. However, not satisfied with one MP we have engaged with four MPs from the local area, as well as a Member of the House of Lords. We have also been working on a special edition of ‘The Student’ our student magazine targeting, in particular, youth employment and the way that a college education could be a gateway to employment, never mind university.
In this special edition we have included interviews with the MPs which we are lobbying, and an open letter to Michael Gove around the issue of FE fees, which all students can fill their details in and send via the Students’ Union to the government, so that they are under no illusion that students are in opposition to their proposals and paying for an education which should be theirs by right.
We are printing 500 magazines with the open letters inside and expect that the vast majority of students who pick up the magazine will fill it in and return it.
A vital part of this campaigning activity has centred on building relationships with the MPs and their offices prior to the lobby day. As a result of this work we have become one of the first points of contact for MPs on issues affecting the FE sector and have been asked our views on the free meals debate that took place in Parliament on June 13th. By engaging in this campaign we have increased our profile within the community and established our position as the primary voice for FE students in the area.
The top and bottom of is it that this is a really simple and easy way of campaigning. All you have to do is make the first contact with the MPs and the rest as they say is history! We have had a really positive experience of working with MPs from four different political parties (yes, even a Tory!) and think you should do the same too!
Say NO to FE fees and YES to positive actions!