President Zamzam Ibrahim responds to the Queen's Speech, delivered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson Thursday 19 December 2019.
“Students were promised a full government response to the Augar review by the end of the year but in this Queen’s Speech all we have are more promises to consider the recommendations carefully. We need action now to abolish the extortionate fees that universities charge. While commitments of more funding for FE are welcome, these will not reverse the cuts that the sector has experienced since 2010.
“We are pleased to see plans to abolish Section 21 and introduce ‘lifetime deposits’. We await to scrutinise the detail around both policies, especially the aim to enhance landlord's rights to gain possession of their property - which has the potential to undermine any increased rights for renters. Given the recent fire in Bolton, it is positive to see the Government committing to adopt many of the recommendations of the Hackitt Review on fire safety. However, it is vital that the government combines their commitments in this area with meaningful funding and a strategy based on actual risk rather than arbitrary definitions of 'high-rise'.
“NUS welcomes commitments to provide more funding for the NHS which will help to improve provision of mental health services and we glad that the Conservatives have recognised the damage that the removal of nursing bursaries has had on recruitment to the NHS – but restoring bursaries for maintenance without addressing fees is unlikely to go far enough.
“We are disappointed that the Government wishes to revisit freedom of speech in universities, in spite of Parliament’s own Joint Committee on Human Rights finding there was no widespread issues that required attention. Indeed by introducing voter ID and banning public bodies from taking stances on foreign policy, it is the Government who will restrict debate and democracy.
“The Queen’s Speech makes no mention of the previously promised student visa but we hope that previous commitments to increase post study work visas to two years still apply. NUS will continue to lobby for a fair and accessible immigration system for international students and we await more details of the proposed points-based immigration system.”