In the run up to the National Conference of the National Union of Students, we have offered all candidates for President, Vice President, and Block of 15 the opportunity to write articles for us explaining their priorities, their manifesto and why delegates should support them and elect them to their respective roles. Each candidate is allowed between 600 and 1,000 words, and we will publish each article in the order that we receive them.
by Shakira Martin
Deciding to run for a National Position within NUS is a huge step outside my comfort zone. Coming from a working, non-political family, getting involved in the student movement was an entirely different world to me, but there was something about being around so many empowering and inspiring people who want to fight for a better world with equal rights and opportunities that was infectious.
Further Education is the reason I am writing this article right now. Further education has given me 10 years’ worth of opportunity to be where I am today. Further Education has been my route to breaking the cycles of deprivation and being a role model to my 2 children. And Further Education has given me the confidence to stand to be the next NUS Vice President Further Education.
As a teacher trainer it is important for me to understand my sector from all angles to be able to understand my students and the learning environment. I want to give back to Further Education what it has given me — a lifeline!
Standing to be the next NUS Vice President Further Education means much more than a job and a fancy title. Rather, it is my opportunity to change the lives of the 4.1 million students NUS represents and thousands more outside the movement. This current coalition government is screwing us over left, right and centre and they have no intention of stopping until Further Education is completely eradicated — unless we stand up, stand firm and do something about it!
NUS should be the hub of the student movement, a place where we can use each other as allies and work together to make a stronger movement to fight in unity and solidarity in getting the government to listen to our priorities, take us seriously and concede to our demands.
This current coalition government is screwing us over left, right and centre and they have no intention of stopping until Further Education is completely eradicated — unless we stand up, stand firm and do something about it!
This is why it is vital that we build a stronger foundation within NUS and bring the skills, knowledge, passion and determination from all FE institutions together and through utilising the skills and talent within our movement to organise and mobilise we can ensure our voices are heard. This includes having and stronger and more inclusive relationship with the nations and the FE reps on committees where we can share good practice and learn from each other to create stronger regional networks.There is so much to do and therefore there is no time to elect the next NUS Vice President Further Education based on their personality or to maintain the leadership.
There is so much to do and therefore there is no time to elect the next NUS Vice President Further Education based on their personality or to maintain the leadership.
This is why I believe I am the best person for the job. I will fight tirelessly for all FE students, irrespective of their race, sexuality, religion, ability, gender or political views. I will be visual and I will be a backbone for all FE students and unions up and down the country from nation to nation. I will be inclusive and listen to the views of those I represent. I will be approachable and willing to learning from others. I will be open minded and willing to have healthy debate and be challenged when necessary. But most of all I will stand firm in getting our priorities across to the decision makers. I will lead an FE campaign that has the best interest of the students it represents and I will never give up until we see change and have free education for all.
If elected the next VPFE I will:-
- Encourage and promote a more inclusive FE campaign. I’ll work closely with the Nations and FE reps on NUS committees to share best practice and build stronger networks to support you.
- I will campaign tirelessly for a new Education Maintenance Allowance framework that puts pounds in the pockets of college student and helps meet the cost of our studies.
- EMA= Everyone Must Achieve!
- Continue to support and campaign for free education at all levels. No cuts! No fees! No Debts! Education is a right, not a privilege. It should be accessible so everyone has the chance to reach their full potential.
- Build a movement that stands up to racism, sexism, disability discrimination and LGBTphobia. We must challenge racist scapegoating, Islamophobia, Anti- Semitism and the far right.
- Campaign for equality for all on FE campuses and provide FE student unions with equality and diversity training to best support and represent their membership.
- There has been a strong focus over the last years on the General Election and ensuring that the next potential government take on our priorities for free education, saying no to all forms of austerity and campaigning for equality for all, is key.
However, for me this is just the beginning. The hard work will start after the general election on the May 7th. Therefore it is of upmost importance that we maintain the momentum and the fight for the next five years. This is just the start of the battle – the war is yet to come.
With only a couple weeks to go until conference I really hope that delegates can see my integrity and genuine passion for the work I live, breathe and eat on a daily basis. As much as I would love to win this election it is important that those who for vote me believe in me, my policies and my determination and I welcome you all to approach me over the duration of conference and ask me any questions and put as face to the words in this article and my manifesto and remember….
FE= Free Education, Further Education, For Everyone
To read all candidates’ articles, click here.