The result of yesterday’s General Election has left the country in a state of uncertainty, with a hung parliament meaning that no single party can form a majority government. In the last few hours, Theresa May has proposed a Democratic Unionist Party and Conservative government coalition. You can find out more about Hung Parliaments and what could happen next here.
There are some big issues at stake for students and young people in this election. The Labour Party manifesto proposes the scrapping of tuition fees and the reintroduction of maintenance grants. The Conservative Party propose to continue with the changes they have begun to implement this year which were outlined in their White Paper. This includes the introduction of a Teaching Excellence Framework and three tier rating system for universities, which would allow for the adjustment of fees to the quality of the university, as well as loans for postgraduates.
Brexit has been a contentious issue this election, and one which has implications for students and young people - especially international and EU students. Negotiations with the EU are set to begin in 12 days - the Conservative Party set this out as the key issue of the election. One of the National Union of Students’ asks for the next government is to promote and protect the opportunity for international students to study, live and work in the UK, in light of the EU referendum result stating that "70 percent of UK students agree that any reduction in international students would impact their cultural experience at university" and "75 percent agreed that international students should be allowed to work in the UK after graduating". Across the political spectrum there have been a number of opinions, and even amongst Manchester Met students there has been a range of perspectives.
Employment opportunities for young people is another topic that has made headlines, with the changing nature of work for young people, which is often called ‘the gig economy’, posing a host of important questions about job security and financial stability. Both major parties have promised to take the challenges posed by this seriously, and to make changes that will address the problem. The Labour Party want to scrap zero hour contracts and the Conservative Party say they will act to protect these workers following on from their review of the changing labour market.
In the lead up to the General Election there were fears that young people would be absent from the electoral register - with changes to registration and the challenge of relocating to a new city with a new address, it was a risk. As well as this, there was a perceived apathy or disengagement of young people. However, in the final few days of voter registration we saw a surge in young people registering, with 90,000 registering on the final day, and in early May, YouthSight reported that most students entitled to vote were registered (93%) and only 5% were certain they were not registered. The report acknowledged the role of the Election Registration Officers, universities and SU’s in bringing this about. In a statement from the NUS President today, Malia Bouattia says: ‘We have seen the student vote play a key role in marginal seats across the UK. The student vote yesterday was about more than tuition fees.’
We have been campaigning to ensure that you have your say by registering to vote, and finding out which party best represents your views; it’s an exciting sign of young people’s political engagement that the estimated turnout of young people to vote has been 72% across the UK.
You’ve had your say on your future and we hope that your enthusiasm for politics, campaigning and having an influence continues to grow and that The Union can support you to make positive change.