Welsh Labour breaks student support promise

15% cutbacks to support for Wales' most disadvantaged students represents another broken promise by the Labour-run Welsh Government.

In Spring 2010, NUS Wales, representing all university and college students in Wales, launched a campaign called "Access All Areas" in the run-up to the Welsh Assembly elections. As part of Access All Areas, candidates for the Assembly, including every single Labour candidate, specifically pledged they would not cut the Assembly Learning Grant (ALG) from its then-current level of 5000 per year.

Now, the Assembly has cut the ALG by 6% in real terms from its 2010 level, and by 15% in real terms from its 2011 level. This cut, alongside similar cuts in the Special Support Grant, mean mature students, single parents, disabled students, and students on lower incomes will find it much harder to afford college and university education in Wales.

When the Liberal Democrats broke their 2009 pledge not to raise tuition fees, NUS rallied 52,000 students to a mass march outside Parliament and supported a season of lobbying and demonstrations. With Labour breaking its election promise in Wales, NUS Wales, itself now controlled by the Labour Party, is silent.

Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition candidates, who all signed the Access All Areas pledge within a day of its launch, have also promised not to pass on any of the Coalition or Assembly cuts to ordinary working people. Labour's craven abandonment of its principles and promises shows how, both in NUS and in local government, a fighting alternative is urgently needed.

Ed Schluessel

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