YOUNG VOICES

NUS Vows To Mobilise Thousands Of Students Ahead Of General Election For 'Referendum On Brexit Terms'

'We cannot give our futures away because we are disengaged.'

26/04/2017 10:11 BST | Updated 26/04/2017 10:13 BST

The National Union of Students has vowed to mobilise thousands of young people ahead of the General Election, calling the vote a “referendum on the terms of Brexit”.

Delegates at the union’s annual conference yesterday voted to run the biggest registration drive in its history and to send a “student’s manifesto” to politicians outlining the demands of young people.  biggest registration drive in its history

“Theresa May’s government has already made clear that its approach to leaving the EU is harsher border controls and a deepening regime of cuts and privatisation of public services - from education to the NHS,” an emergency motion read. 

Mike Kemp via Getty Images
The NUS has vowed to mobilise thousands of students ahead of the General Election on June 8 

“Now is a moment for our movement to come together, to hold politicians to account, and to put forward the demands of students across the UK.” 

As well as the manifesto, which will focus on “key issues” such as the rights of international students and the safeguarding of education, the NUS pledged to hold candidate hustings and to publish a guide on the policies of each party that could affect students. 

“We cannot give away our futures to other people because we are disengaged,” Shakira Martin, who is running to be the next NUS president, told student representatives from across the country.   

Data has shown that 75% of 18 to 24-year-olds who voted in the EU Referendum wanted Britain to remain in the European Union. 

However, some data suggests that just 36% of young people voted - although other studies claim it could be as high as 64%. 

Despite the majority of young voters opposing Brexit, delegates decided against endorsing a particular party in the General Election following an impassioned speech from NUS presidential candidate Tom Harwood. 

“We are called the National Union of Students - all students,” the Durham University student said. 

Harwood continued: “We shouldn’t be calling the party some students support ‘racist’. That’s maddening. 

“We shouldn’t take autonomy from students at colleges and universities - we should not tell them how to vote.” 

Harwood’s comments appeared to stand in direct opposition with those of current NUS president Malia Bouttia, who, in her speech opening the conference in Brighton, vowed not to let students forget the actions of the current Conservative government. 

Referencing the increase in university tuition fees and cuts to EMA and college funding, Bouattia said the government was “desperate to convince us they have students at heart, desperate for us to forget what they have done.” 

“Our individual and collective power is unstoppable,” she added. 

Student representatives at the NUS conference will today vote to decide who will lead the union for the next year.