The extremism within the National Union of Students has become an increasing frustration to me lately. Instead of working constructively to support students and widen access to Universities, the NUS, dominated by an extremist clique, campaign negatively against the Government even when that is not in the best interest of its own members. Ex-President Aaron Porter was quietly pleased that the new Tuition Fee system is so similar to his preferred method of a Graduate Tax and tried to tone down the student demonstrations. In response, the more extreme elements of the organisation chucked him out in favour of somebody that would lead a bolder political movement, Liam Burns.
The majority of students don’t necessarily want to be part of an aggressive political movement and certainly don’t want to be dragged into one by the NUS which employs increasingly thuggish methods. What students want is a Union that will work constructively and positively to increase participation, stand up for students when they have problems and co-operate with the Government for the best deal possible. One example of the horrific tactics employed include the scaremongering that poor students may not be able to attend University from now on. I can only presume that some people heard this clarion call and decided that they could then not go to University. In reality, the proportion of applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds has risen since last year, not fallen. The progressive elements of the new system, meaning that no students need to pay up-front for their education and no graduates will pay back a penny unless they earn over the national average salary mean that many of the poorest students know they can finally get access to University, but this is despite the actions of the NUS, not because of them.