MODEL POLICY PROPOSAL: Strengthening the student voice

by NUS Democracy Admin 14 February 2020, 13:15

Category: Policy Topic Idea

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This is a model policy proposal to illustrate to members the preffered new format of policy submissions.

Policies should be written in clear, plain English and be no longer than 700 words. The submission should be in two parts, identifying the issue and identifying how we think the issues should be solved. This policy is illustrative and shows how we think policy could look like.

This policy proposal will not be included in the prioritisation exercise and will not be submitted to Conference, it is for illustrative purposes only.

The proposal is adapted from existing NUS policy - Motion 505 of NUS Society and Citizenship Policy 2017. You can find the original submission in the link below (page 12)

Model Policy Proposal

What’s the problem?

General elections are the major chance for most people in the UK to have a say in our political landscape and influence who those in power are. 

Students form an important constituency in elections and it is imperative that our voices are heard locally and nationally. However, we know that students are less likely to register to vote than other groups in the population.

It’s particularly difficult for students to have their say because the government changed regulations so that everyone is responsible for registering themselves to vote. Before, if you lived in halls, you could be automatically registered by the university – now the rules have changed, this penalises students as people who change address fairly regularly, because it adds another barrier to being able to actually vote.

There is also a principle behind this: we believe that all students should be empowered to make change in society, and that no-one should be left out from being able to have their say because of changes in regulations that unfairly penalise them.

What could be the solution?

We want to see a world where everyone is able to be politically engaged and understands the importance of voting and civic engagement. The way we can get there is to campaign for political education and citizenship to be embedded in the curriculum from an early stage, and for this to be relevant to students’ lives.

We know that students’ unions give people experience of democratic engagement and empowerment. We need this to be strengthened throughout the student movement, and so we will support students’ unions across the movement, but with a particular focus on further education, to build strong, democratic organisations which empower their members. This means that more students will understand the importance of democratic engagement from an earlier stage. 

We also want to ensure that students are able to vote in the relevant national and local elections, and so when appropriate we will run large-scale voter registration campaigns which educate students on how to register and the importance of registering and using their vote.