NUS praises progressive Plaid Cymru Manifesto

NUS praises progressive Plaid Cymru Manifesto

The National Union of Students welcomes an aspirational and progressive manifesto from Plaid Cymru which commits the party to principles of equality of opportunity, free movement, and free education for all. The manifesto contains measures which would tackle the many crises the country currently faces and would make a meaningful difference to student lives. 

  • Their pledge to make university education free for all and their commitment to introducing tuition and maintenance loans for all adults over 18 in both further and higher education could revolutionise access to higher education. 
  • Plaid have outlined a strong commitment to lifelong learning including a lifetime learning allowance, offering a grant of £5,000 to every individual over 25 to train or retrain, and a commitment to address the fall in part-time and mature study.  
  • We welcome their strong commitment to apprentices through an apprentice living wage. Apprenticeships should be a mechanism of social change; allowing people to train without taking on debt. An apprentice living wage will allow people to take advantage of these opportunities. 
  • Further education learners are supported through Plaid’s promise of free meals and travel which would greatly help reduce the financial burden of studying and improve access to education for all. 
  • Increasing funding for the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol is welcome and would provide Welsh Language opportunities for learners.  
  • We support policies which would see the expansion of social housing and give Wales the power to implement rent controls, along with other market interventions, to make housing affordable. We have campaigned tirelessly against an exploitative student rental sector and these measures would go some way to halting the cycle of rising rents and falling standards. 
  • We also welcome the pledge to give votes to 16-year-olds and to scrap voter ID, which disproportionately disenfranchises young people, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds, racialised communities and LGBT+ people.  The student and youth movement has been campaigning to bring in Votes at 16 for decades. 16 and 17-year-olds are facing a future of climate change and global instability: it is only fair their voices have a chance to shape our futures. 
  • Plans to retain the graduate route visa and empower Wales to participate in pan-European programmes is good news to international students. This would also offer students a freedom of movement which has been denied since leaving the European Union. 
  • Other pledges we welcome include: plans to strengthening the use of the Welsh language in workplace learning for 16 to 25-year-olds, commitments to improve bus services, and supporting the principle of basic universal income for all. 

There are a few omissions, however. We note: 

  • We welcome the proposed increase in child benefit however, whilst 94% of children in Wales qualify for the payment, 16 to 18-year-olds on apprenticeships are not eligible and would therefore fall through the cracks.  
  • While the party’s pledges on housing would make great strides in tackling the student housing crisis, we note there is nothing about scrapping the need for a guarantor.   

 

A NUS Wales Spokesperson said: 

“Plaid Cymru are offering hope and aspiration to young people who have seen their opportunities shrink in recent years.   

“Apprentices, students, and students' unions up and down the UK have been lobbying to secure a future for us all - and we're pleased to see Plaid Cymru has listened to some of our core asks. Equality of opportunity, free movement, and free education for all are fundamental principles in the student movement and it’s pleasing to see them echoed here. 

“Students are the future. They are the next generation of doctors, nurses, teachers and public sector workers; they are the engineers, researchers and political leaders who will solve the crises which threaten our society and our world.  

“Students and young people are looking to their political leaders for hope, a picture of a better future, and a reason to vote for them. This manifesto offers a clear vision for students and young people, within a strong, welcoming and inclusive Wales.” 

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