Shakira Martin on Widening participation


Universities play an essential part in creating this happen also, by fixing student retention and achievement and also to bring education to the lives of working class communities.  In summary we want universities to grow and operate in dialogue together – instead of treat and gentrify – towns.  Due hearing these tales and comprehending how the realities working class individuals confront in our education system and in society really is still equally more strong.  Attempting to do this could make our universities complicit in neglecting prospective students closed out from HE and strengthening the cycle of anxiety that we’re seeing intensify in Britain.


This past year I started NUS’ Poverty Commission to put class back on the agenda, and to show what this really means when it comes to education and social mobility.

While I discuss student poverty, so I am speaking about the folks across the UK who quit school at 16, or perhaps earlier, to enter into a minimum wage job because they simply cannot manage to do anything else – or maybe as they’ve been forced to feel they’re not effective at anything .  I am discussing working class communities at the Welsh Valleys and the working class woman in Northern Ireland who falls ill and cannot afford the visit to England to get an abortion.  I am speaking about the men and women who aren’t able to attend college in Scotland, since although prices are liberated, rent certainly isn’t.


Widening participation in schooling and enhancing social freedom have been fundamental topics of focus during my, now nearly two decades, presidency of the National Union of Students (NUS).  During this time I have observed vital actions to be taken ahead; the Office for Students shake of accessibility and involvement and also the enhanced industry commitment to handling the black success gap function as merely a few examples.



As I embark on my last months at the helm of both NUS and visit the future, I expect that we’re able to find a grasp of exactly that which drawback actually means from the context of our universities and also at the lives of prospective and current students.  We will need to keep our current WP attempts but also to create a more meaningful comprehension of deprivation, depending on the tales of the men and women who understand it best.  Because universities can’t continue to gain from this poverty superior, whilst virtually expecting to conquer the social freedom challenge.



I feel we are capable of success and thriving in schooling.  We’re capable of attaining and even being mobile, but for a few the chances are stacked against us.  That is what we will need to modify, but it can not be accomplished by broadening involvement campaigns .  Rather we must return to basics and think about what we may have missed about exactly what it means to become working class and reevaluate the area of the obstacles that this gifts.

But it won’t be enough to increase student income alone, because doing so causes multiple generations to face increasingly unmanageable debts.  How can we expect to improve social mobility when the money from the debts of the poorest students ends up back in the pockets of those already up at the top of the ladder?  That is why we also need to see creative initiatives such as accommodation subsidies introduced for low-income students, private landlords halving rent on accommodation over the summer and discount cards for 50 per cent reductions on train fares and cheaper and better bus services.  To make these dreams a reality, we need the Government to step up and deliver for students by delivering greater investment in early years education and significant investment in IAG for students.


In summary – it is time to knock the down and build it back .

Over the last year, NUS has been working to take the Poverty Commission findings forward – it is the key piece of evidence we submitted to the Augar Review of post-18 education and funding, and we will continue to lobby politicians and the sector at a national level for change.  In addition, we are supporting students’ unions to campaign so we are able to knock down the obstacles of getting in and receiving – if associated with transportation, housing, class expenses or job.


On the other hand, the simple fact of the matter remains that social freedom is now at a standstill.  We are aware this can be down to many complex factors regarding social inequality in Britain, in addition to specific challenges which exist through our higher education industry.  This isn’t a new issue.  Student poverty isn’t a new issue and classed obstacles to schooling are definitely not new.  I feel we can only really know this if we’re eager to return to fundamentals, to re-learn what we might have forgotten.  It usually means that we must discuss course.  We will need to press on the reset button and then restart the discussion concerning inequity in our schooling system.

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