Friday 27-11-2015 - 09:57
Today sees the public launch of NUS Wales’ Manifesto for the 2016 National Assembly Elections.
Beth Button has called on political parties to seize the opportunity to offer young people a positive vision for all forms of education in Wales - or risk alienating an entire generation from devolved politics.
It comes as NUS Wales publishes a new survey indicating widespread public support for investment in students and education - with 70% of the Welsh public saying that reducing tuition fees should be an important Welsh Government priority, almost two-thirds (63%) saying the same about increased financial support for students’ living costs, and six in 10 (59%) saying that prioritising support for part-time education, adult learning, and supporting college education and prospective college students rather than full time university education should be an important Welsh Government priority. A total of 72% also said that additional regulation and enforcement of private student housing standards and costs should be an important Welsh Government priority.
Beth warned that students could turn their backs on devolved politics and Wales if politicians refuse to make a clear offer to students and young people for the next five years. The launch of ‘Better Education, Better Society.’ comes in the midst of a major review into how students in Wales are financially supported and the education system is funded. The review is due to report after the election.
NUS Wales is concerned parties will fail to adequately address major questions over how students will be supported to go into education because of the timing of the review.
In its blueprint for 2021, NUS Wales has recommended a move to a balanced student funding system – with investment in support for all students to meet their living costs when studying at university and college.
It also calls for preservation of tuition fee support for Welsh students, a new support system for postgraduate students – as well as a commitment to protect investment in further education colleges and adult learning.
Experiences of under-represented and minority groups should be enshrined in the national curriculum, alongside stronger education on sex and healthy relationships in all schools, according to the proposals.
Students have also urged leaders to move to address chronic problems with student housing quality and to end the scandal of unfair fees charged to rent homes.
The Welsh post-16 education system is at a crossroads. The next Welsh Government can choose to invest in students and ensure the opportunity to learn is open to all – or it can continue to cut the education budget with little regard for the long-term prospects for a skilled workforce in Wales. Politicians must give students something to vote for by making a clear commitments on what their education will look like – they cannot hide behind the reviews into the future of higher and further education and ask students to vote blind. Otherwise, it’s not students that are not turning away from politics – it’s politics turning away from them.
Click here to read the manifesto.