I'm really excited to announce that NUS is working with UCU, Unison and ATL to continue the campaign against the introduction of FE Fees by organising a constituency lobby on the 8 February. NUS has profound concerns with this policy move, which so greatly risks putting adults off studying, training or re-skilling later on in life. We have particular concerns about its impact on apprenticeships.
This policy will see those aged 24 and above who undertake a higher level (3+) apprenticeship taking out a loan of up to several thousand pounds - in essence, paying in order to work. Now more than ever, we need to be investing in jobs and in a highly-skilled workforce. This must include increasing the number of good quality apprenticeships available - which involves both supporting providers to offer high quality apprenticeships and supporting learners to take them up.
But the government is doing precisely the opposite. Asking adults aged 24 and above to pay to work, through a student loan, risks putting many people off undertaking apprenticeships and contributing towards the development of our skilled workforce. Apprentices are already paid below the NMW - the minimum wage for apprentices is £2.65 for their first year of work. Asking people earning this level of pay to further take out a loan in order to work is simply unacceptable.
We have already achieved so much in protecting those students affected by this senseless policy - most notably that students who do an access to HE course will have the cost of this written off when they go on to study in HE, and winning an extra £50 million bursary fund over two years, aimed at vulnerable learners.
We should be proud of what we've achieved working together across FE and HE, including through the lobby we ran last year, but of course the policy remains profoundly wrong - placing the full cost on the individual is simply not fair. We need to be investing in opportunities for people to develop new skills, not closing the door for those who want to study or train later in life.
We have been right to reject the policy, and even at this late stage - with the it due to come into effect this coming academic year - we still need to continue to do all we can to challenge it. That's why we're pleased to announce today that together with UCU, UNISON and the ATL we're holding a national constituency lobby on Friday 8 February saying 'No to FE fees'. The key focus of this lobby will be to call on the government to drop their plans to ask apprentices to start their careers with huge levels of debt, while also challenging the policy in its totality.
So thank you so much for all your work on #No2FEFees so far. I'm looking forward to seeing you on the 8th February for the NUS-UCU-UNISON-ATL national constituency lobby. Please encourage as many students on your campus as you can to take part - or at least to write to their local MP. We've got lots of resources up on www.nus.org.uk and NUS connect on the issue and how to lobby for you to use.
Get in touch if you have any questions or if there's anything we can help with - firstname.lastname@example.org