Poverty Commission: submit your evidence!

The NUS Poverty Commission aims to address barriers facing working class students when it comes to access, retention and success in post-16 education.

We're gathering evidence before delivering a series of recommendations in February 2018 - and we want to hear from you!


During this consultation phase we want to hear from organisations, academics and students' unions about working class people's experiences of education.

We want to build a picture of working class students' experiences in post-16 education, whether they're impacted by the cost of living, changes in student support, or any other barrier.

But we also want to hear from those who are not in education - working class adults wanting to re-enter education or who have never seen it as an option.

So we're asking organisations to answer four questions:

  • What are the barriers working class people face accessing and succeeding in post-16 education?

  • What evidence do you have of this?

  • What work have you been involved in that has had an impact?

  • If you could have three policy recommendations, what would they be?

We're gathering these answers until Tuesday 12 December and they'll then feed into our recommendations in February.

To submit evidence to the Poverty Commission, please download the submission document and return to povertycommission@nus.org.uk



What do you mean by post-16 education?

NUS represents students over the age of 16 in colleges, universities and on some apprenticeships. Post-16 education itself includes education that takes place in settings such as sixth forms (school, college and academy), further education institutions and adult and community centres, and universities. It also includes training providers and on the job learning in the workplace, in the voluntary and charity sector, and within institutions such as prisons. It can be academic or vocational, and formal or informal.

What do you mean by ‘working class’ and ‘poverty’?

There are a number of political and economic definitions of ‘working class’, and, as the nature of work has changed, they have also changed. When we talk about ‘working class HE students’ we can refer to someone being the first person in their family to attend university or those students who were or are entitled to specific financial support such as free school meals or maintenance grants/loans. 

However when we’re talking about ‘working class people’ holistically we need to take broader approach. In part we will be relying on organisations who submit to the Commission to use their own definition of ‘working class’ in a way that best fits the people they work with or represent.

Regarding ‘poverty’, some people may face explicit financial barriers when accessing and succeeding in education, but for others poverty may come in different forms, including economic, social or cultural. 

The Government’s index of multiple deprivation covers: income; employment; health and disability; education, skills and training; living environment; crime.

Although these different themes intersect and we expect them to be touched on during the Commission, our primary focus is on ‘education, skills and training’ in relations to deprivation and poverty. 

Why are there only four evidence questions?

We want a range of different voices to be able to participate in this Commission, including smaller organisations and ones staffed by volunteers. Please feel free to use the text boxes to provide as little or as much information as you want or are able to. 

My organization only works with or represents people from Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland or England, not across the whole of the UK. Can I still participate?

Yes. We expect that a lot of what is submitted will resonate across the whole of the UK. However where policy, projects, funding and initiatives are devolved, we will be drawing on a panel of experts who will look at the devolved context and shape recommendations accordingly. 

How can I follow the progress of the Commission?

The Commission is due to report towards the end of February 2018 and we will circulate the final report and recommendations at that time. However, alongside the formal evidence gathering of the Commission, NUS will be working with students and community members to tell their stories and experiences of accessing and succeeding in post-16 education via social media. You can follow and engage with us using the hashtag #ClassDismissed on Twitter.

For further information on the Poverty Commission, get in touch with povertycommission@nus.org.uk