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NUS responds to the Conservative Party's general election manifesto

Sunday 24 November 2019

Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS National President, has responded to the today's launch of the Conservative Party's general election manifesto:

"The Conservative Party's manifesto shows their complete disregard for the interests of students. We were promised a full government response to the Augar review by the end of the year but all we have got is more promises to consider the recommendations carefully. Students need action now to abolish the extortionate fees that universities charge. They also plan to look at the interest rate on student loans, but reform to student finance must be bolder, as by itself reducing interest would only benefit the highest-earning graduates.

"The manifesto promise to get Brexit done is an attempt to kid voters, masking the hard Brexit that Boris Johnson's deal entails. We need a People's Vote on the deal negotiated by the Prime Minister and guarantees to protect EU funding and student mobility of we are to find a way out of this dilemma.

"While we welcome plans for a student visa, which we hope will include the previously announced extension of post study work visas to 2 years, the Conservatives plans for the future immigration system are a continuation of the 'hostile environment' migrants currently have to endure.

"We are very glad that the Conservatives have recognised the damage that the removal of nursing bursaries has had on recruitment to the NHS and have promised to restore them in this manifesto - but restoring bursaries for maintenance without addressing fees is unlikely to go far enough. Although promises to treat mental health with the same urgency as physical health are positive, to truly solve the mental health crisis requires additional funding for already over-stretched NHS services. 

"NUS will be looking for more detail on the National Skills Fund and a guarantee that this will be directed for the benefit of learners and not just employers. The Conservatives' commitments to provide more funding for FE are greatly needed but to resolve the funding crisis per pupil spending must be raised to pre-2010 levels.

"This manifesto demonstrates that they are not taking the climate crisis seriously. 2050 is far too late for the country to be carbon neutral as the damage caused to our planet by then will be irreparable.

"Their plans to protect democracy will only disenfranchise thousands of voters from already marginalised groups by bringing in voter ID and keeping the voting age at 18.

"This manifesto has done nothing to address the living costs for students. Spiralling accommodation costs and the scrapping of maintenance grants have meant many students are having to turn to alternative sources of funding. The next government must take action to resolve this."