Better advice and increased funding the key to improving student life, Universities told

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A ‘student jury’ set up to suggest improvements to the experience of students across the country has delivered its recommendations to the government, after months of surveying the national student population to discover where problems lay.

Earlier in February this year, a National Student Forum (NSF) was set-up to feedback to the government the issues in higher education students would like to see resolved. The eighteen-strong group is comprised of representatives from the National Union of Students (NUS), National Postgraduate Committee (NPC) and National Bureau for Students with Disabilities (NBSD).

The NSF has delivered its recommendations to the new Minister for Students, Lord Tony Young, with the aim of improving Higher Education Establishments throughout Britain. The Chair of the National Student Forum, Maeve Sherlock, presented the suggestions, saying: “This report offers our views on some of the key issues facing British students today. I hope it will be of some interest to ministers and policymakers, universities and students alike.”

One major problem highlighted was that of providing better information and advice to help students make correct course choices. This includes requests for universities to publish contact hours and assessment styles students can expect, as well as a breakdown of how tuition fees are spent.  Another suggestion was to provide grants for prospective students from poorer backgrounds, allowing them to be able to visit at least two universities before making a final decision.  Maeve Sherlock commented that; “These days it’s a big decision to invest the time and money needed to come to university, so it’s really important to know not just what your course is called but what it will involve.”

Recommendations regarding Student Finance included increasing the amount of maintenance loan available, as students felt it was insufficient to fund university life. Another suggestion was to introduce a choice of loan instalment options, providing flexibility on when they are received.

NUS President Wes Streeting, who also sits on the forum said: “NUS is pleased to have contributed to the NSF, and as the representative voice of students, we look forward to working with the government in order to find solutions for the issues raised.”  Until then, students are left wondering to what extent the Forum’s suggestions will realistically affect their day-to-day student life.

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