‘Massive’ student poverty commission launched by NUS

NUS president Shakira Martin says the research will 'reach out to forgotten corners' of society

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A "massive" new commission aimed at tackling student poverty has been announced by the NUS students' union.

The commission, which is expected to report in February, will focus on what barriers working class people face before, during and after further and higher education. 

According to figures released yesterday by the union's student discount card, NUS extra, almost half (46 per cent) of students worry about being able to afford basics such as bread and milk, while a quarter do not look forward to returning to college or university because of financial worries.

Shakira Martin, president of the NUS, said in a speech yesterday: “We are all capable of achieving, but for some the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against us. That is what I want to change. That’s why I am launching my poverty commission: a massive piece of work that will span two years, will reach out to the forgotten corners of our society and will involve agencies, experts and students from all areas of further and higher education.”

'Facts and figures don't cut it anymore'

Last year Ms Martin, who was elected as president of the NUS in April, warned that FE was being "cut to the core", and that teachers were "trying to change people’s lives on a budget".

“Facts and figures aren’t cutting it anymore," Ms Martin added. "We need to give a voice to the people who are experiencing these barriers. That’s what I am going to be doing. I will present my findings in a way that the working class community can engage with personally. Long reports with inaccessible terminology and endless numbers have their place, and we will produce a written report, but it is important that people feel that they are talking with us, rather than being talked about. Our findings need to be articulated in a way that can be understood by everyone. Only then can the conversation really be open. An open conversation about class is desperately needed in the UK right now.”

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