Calling all students!

AnnieM, April 27, 2010

Up and down the country students are rallying behind a NUS pledge against a rise in tuition fees. So far it has been signed by over 1,000 MPs who promise to support the pledge if elected. Among those signed is Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat MP Vince Cable and Government Minister of State, Phil Woolas.

The NUS believe that thus far, the student vote has been largely neglected by the main parties despite the fact that student numbers account for 10-30% of votes (equivalent to 45 seats).  The BBC puts the number of students in Britain at 2million.

As such, student votes are highly likely to swing the election, if parties take steps to engage with this oft-neglected calibre of voter.

According to a joint survey carried out by Endsleigh Insurance  and the NUS, 75% of students are intending to vote, but two-thirds have yet to be swayed. Worryingly, these two-thirds (81%) noted that they had not been contacted by any of the political parties.

So it remains to be seen – how many students will actually turn out to vote? Given that their collective vote could mean the loss or gain of 45 seats, it is imperative that record numbers of students as possible exercise their democratic right. Because of course, it’s all about strength in numbers.

And Elsewhere...

The bad news

Those candidates in the education sector may have been following the recent debates about ‘free schools’ which are causing rifts within the Conservative party. Plans put forward by the Conservatives involve giving public money to independents (parents, or in some cases, private companies) to create their own schools . Yet two senior Conservative figures warned yesterday that money used to create new schools would threaten existing schools whose budgets would have to be dramatically reduced to finance the new institutions. Since the story broke, one of the senior figures has since issued a clarification stating that he is “100%” behind the new plans. Although it remains to be seen how this can be possible due to his concerns voiced earlier.

The Good News

London candidates may be interested to note that the East London line opens to the public today, as part of the London Overground network. Set to run from New Cross Gate to Dalston Junction (one of the new stations created for the network), there will be up to eight trains an hour, which will be good news for commuters who have had to tackle daily street-level traffic jams in the months leading up to the grand opening.

This is the first part of the £1bn extension which was initiated by Former Mayor Ken Livingstone and the Labour Government.

Part II will see the East London Line extended to Highbury & Islington – expected to open in Spring 2011 – and Part III will see the line further extended to Clapham Junction,  ready for opening in 2012, in time for the Olympics.

The new trains have no doors separating the carriages, allowing passengers to walk the length of the train (which will be benefit during the daily commuter ‘squash’)and feature air conditioning, disabled access and extra wide gangways.

And if you’re an ultra-keen train enthusiast you can even take a virtual trip* on the new train from the comfort of your home.

*Small video clip near the bottom of the news page