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NUS demands 'New Deal for the Next Generation' in general election

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As the general election draws nearer, the NUS have released a manifesto outlining what its 600-strong body of student unions will be demanding from the party that triumphs in 2015.

NUS New DealEntitled the ‘New Deal for the Next Generation’, the manifesto is a rallying cry to a student body crippled by cuts and grappling with growing debt.

As Toni Pearce, the NUS’ current president, declared at the annual conference in April: "We have a generation in crisis.”

In the thunderous aftermath of the 2010 election which decisively determined the financial future of UK students, statistics now indicate that up to three quarters of students will vote in the 2015 election.

This suggests that shockwaves from the current government’s decision to triple fees may have in fact galvanised a generation of new voters. This represents a heartening shift in attitudes and will hopefully steer students away from the trap of political apathy.

As NUS vice president Rachael Mattey claimed at the Student Media Summit in August: “It shows that students are well on their way to being a force to be reckoned with in the general election.”

The NUS ‘New Deal’ is divided into three dominant themes which most affect the student population; these include education, work and community. For each of these three key areas, there is a “menu of campaigning options” for student unions to choose for their own customised campaigns, to forge their own ‘New Deal’.

When reading the demands, it is easy to note the emphasis on breaking down barriers to opportunity in higher education: the NUS demands the phasing out of tuition fees, greater funding for postgraduate study and protection and improvement of Disable Student Allowance.

With regards to the world of work, the need for change seems ever more pressing as staggeringly, only one quarter of young people are optimistic about their prospects in today’s jobs market.

Among the most popular policy ideas are commitment to a Living Wage by raising the income tax threshold, protection for those working on zero hour contracts and an increase in the apprentice minimum wage.

With regards to community, there are demands for the implementation of adequate sex and relationships education, lowering the voting age to 16 and a reversal of the NHS Bill.

In the final few months before the election, the NUS manifesto will hopefully represent a means for students to effectively channel their frustration at a harsh economic landscape into cohesive political action.

The ‘New Deal for a New Generation’ is extending an invitation to politicians to rebuild a foundation of trust for a generation who has lost its faith in politics, time will tell as to whether they take it. 

Read the NUS 'New Deal for the Next Generation' here

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