Taxing questions for NUS leaders

November 11, 1994

I was disappointed to see the democratically elected president of the National Union of Students refusing to promote democratically decided policy on the funding of students in further and higher education (Opinion, THES, November 4).

NUS policy, which has the overwhelming support of affiliates, is for full maintenance grants back to 1979 levels for all students studying in post 16 education. Also NUS is commited to the full reinstatement of students into the benefit system as the only way to end student hardship.

The Commission on Social Justice proposal for an Australian-style student financial support system would increase student hardship both in amount and time -- it is worse than the Tories have given us. Jim Murphy should put his own membership of the Labour Party and support for the ideas of Tony Blair for education behind and promote the policies of those people who employ him to represent their interest not those of his political spin doctors.

If he is not prepared to do this then he should be upfront about the Labour student organisations' policy on financial support and tell people that he does support a CSJ system or graduate tax, etc.

Individual students obviously benefit from education, but more important is the benefit to the whole of society of full and equal access to education and development of a workforce which is informed and has had its horizons broadened; not a life in debt. The NUS leadership of Labour students should articulate the standing policies of NUS and actually go out to its members promoting them and organise effective campaigns against the Tories and tell its party leaders to wake up and vote for the demands of students and the majority of society.

Kevin Sexton NUS London area convenor.

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