In video messages played to over 1,000 student delegates Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg made pleas for the student vote.
It comes as 725 parliamentary candidates have signed the NUS Vote For Students pledge to vote against a hike in top-up fees if elected. More than 175 Labour and 300 Liberal Democrat candidates have signed, but only 10 Conservative candidates have signed up.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:
“Thanks to the Labour expansion of further education and higher education there are now more students than ever before, and I’m incredibly proud that the majority are now women.”
“I believe that every young person should have the chance to fulfil their potential. And that’s why in the recent Budget even as belts are tightening Labour has guaranteed twenty-thousand additional university places, this year, fully funded, with the grants and loans to go with them.”
“Over the last thirteen years we haven't got everything right - as your NUS representatives are the first to tell me. But we have always fought for fairness. And if you will support us in the weeks to come I promise to spend every waking hour fighting for your future."
“I don't need to tell any of you that student votes will be decisive, so I wanted to address NUS conference and the NUS membership to encourage you to vote for your future."
Conservative leader David Cameron said:
“Yes, the top-up fees and the tuition fees have to stay. I’m not going to make promises to you I can’t keep. And we all know that good higher education costs money.
“But we’re going to help students in so many other ways – developing a website which will provide young people with detailed information about the costs and the benefits of going to university, bringing in an early repayment bonus on student loans so we help expand higher education still further, and we want to put careers advisers in every school."
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said:
"I really hope that you will shout loud for what you believe in and what you need to get through to politicians because life is just too unfair for too many young people today.”
“We want to join forces with you and make it plain that we’ve got to turn things round in a big way to provide the fairness, the optimism, the opportunity that you deserve. It means dealing with debt. I think that the plans...both the Conservatives and Labour Party are cooking up in one way or another to raise the cap on tuition fees is wrong. We will resist, campaign against, vote against any lifting of that cap."
Wes Streeting, NUS President said:
“This election will make a huge difference to the future of education and especially the question of higher education funding. With the Browne review due to report early in the next government’s term of office, this will soon become a key issue, whether the main parties like it or not.”
“We are determined to hold parliamentary candidates to account, and help students in every constituency to understand which of those candidates is prepared to back student interests – on the record, and on a clear promise.”