The National Union of Students is launching what it describes as its most widespread and in-depth research initiative, to sound student views on the funding of education in time for its annual conference in March of next year, writes Claire Sanders.
The union is undertaking five different areas of research, which will produce what president Jim Murphy describes as a "blitz of results" early next year.
Next month the union will kick off with a questionnaire on the funding of education. This will encompass such questions as: "Do you think the expansion of higher education should stop?"; "How much do you need to live off a year?"; "Do you believe that quality has been maintained in recent years?"; and "Should there be a student contribution?".
The NUS will use its national magazine to disseminate 100,000 copies of the questionnaire in both further and higher education. It will also send out copies to student unions so that they can do their own local surveys of student attitudes. The findings will be collated to present a national picture.
The next target for the NUS is students in work. Working with the trade union the GMB, the union is surveying student employment in ten cities. The research will look at wage levels, health and safety issues as well as seek the views of these students on student funding. "These are some of the most hard-pressed students financiallly and it is crucial we get their views," says Mr Murphy. The same attitude is behind research into the attitudes of students who have taken out loans and those with access funds.