Young Let us Learn campaigners took to the election trail last week to speak with prospective parliamentary candidates (PPC) at a number of National Union of Teachers hustings events. The events, which focused on the education policies of all the major parties, were also attended by teachers, students and other members of the community, who came to ask questions of their prospective representatives.
Young Let us Learn campaigners turned out in strength to ask parliamentary candidates if they were aware of the plight of young migrants denied access to student finance and home fee status, and if they felt this was right – for the individuals affected and for the British economy. There was resounding support from the prospective politicians and members of the audience alike, with most admitting they were not aware of the situation but clear that this was an anomaly that should be addressed.
Enjoyed NUT hustings. Thanks to @LetUs_Learn for coming down and educating the panel about those who can't access student finance.
— Tom Holder (@tomholder) April 28, 2015
Discretion to Charge Home Fees?
It was encouraging for the campaign and for the young people to be shown this support but also concerning that so few were aware of the situation. Equally concerning was the oft-repeated advice – on this occasion from Labour PPC for Greenwich and Woolwich Matthew Pennycook – that “universities have discretion to charge home fees” on a case-by-case basis. Whilst this may be true in principal, the majority of young people we have been working with have not been offered this option.
Despite these worries, the hustings provided an opportunity for young campaigners to spread the word about Let us Learn and to describe their own stories of migration and education. It was clear that when members of the public- parliamentary candidate or not – heard these stories, this is when they understood and were motivated to support the campaign.