From primary school to university, the highest form of educational institution, people are learning. Students are those that are learning about the world around them, who are developing their knowledge and cementing their passions for subjects.
Education is a big part of politics, although it isn’t mentioned a lot in my opinion. However during the Budget, students at university were mentioned. Students have also been banded about in the Labour leadership contest. But are we really represented apart from Mhairi Black, who is currently at university.
It certainly seems as though young students have suffered a hit, from the removal of the EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) payments back in the academic year 2010 – 2011, to the recent removal of maintenance grants for university students. University tuition fees have also seen a hike, in the 2010 – 2015 parliamentary session.
Many politicians have attended university and have become “career politicians”, others have had jobs before moving into politics. Politics is indefinitely an elite career where those who go to university are favoured, so university is something many politicians have in common. They have had the luxury of Fresher’s Week and graduating. But lest they forget these days or do not actively mention them when talking about current students, which is why I don’t think we are represented in Parliament.
Many university students are supported by the government and the money society gives to the government through tax. Therefore we have been given some thought. But maintenance loans still aren’t enough. My accommodation cost me £4’500, including my bills. I got the top rate of maintenance grant and loan too. I can’t imagine what it is like to live in London.
We also have student political societies but they aren’t getting anywhere near Parliament. I believe that as soon as you reach 18, you have more opportunities, but they are still minimal. Not everyone wants to run to become an MP at 18. You can be part of the British Youth Council or be a young mayor, but you can’t do this after the age of 18. You are an adult and can run with the “big dogs”. Overnight, the option disappears. I didn’t know about these opportunities at all – had I known, I probably would have gotten involved.
Students aren’t visited at university either, at least it isn’t overtly advertised when MP’s do. On the run-up to the general election, we had a panel of politicians come to the university to talk. Although it was widely advertised, I couldn’t go as I had a lecture. This does show engagement with university students, but only in times that matter. I’d like to see surgeries being advertised more openly as I’d love to go!
Students need more representation in Parliament, possibly through some sort of scheme for adults. Political engagement with students should be encouraged, as there is talk of the “next generation”. The next generation won’t engage if current students aren’t represented now. It will have a knock on effect.
What do you think? Comment below.