NUS President Shakira Martin reveals details for the Student Poverty Commission

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A press briefing was held at the NUS and Amnesty International Student Media Summit revealing details about the Student Poverty Commission.

With a planned course of two years starting in February, Shakira Martin and her team will gather evidence of the challenges faced by working class students. The “second phase” will involve recommendations being drawn up from these findings, which it is hoped will lead the government to conduct a full review.

“Politicians insist everything is fine,” Martin said, but “when people have to choose between an education and a mortgage, there’s a problem.”

A recent NUS survey highlighted the financial difficulties experienced by students, with nearly half admitting they struggle with day to day costs such as food. Martin confirmed that the NUS will continue advocating free education, although she added “I don’t think if we get rid of tuition fees we’ll reach Utopia. A lot of it is hidden costs.”

Martin stated her aim to have grants reinstated, to avoid penalising poorer students for the class they were born into.

The new NUS President is no stranger to barriers in education: from a working class family and a single mother, Martin showed understanding of the financial challenges that can be an unsurpassable barrier for students.

“I’m the president of the NUS and I still have to prove it every day,” she said, adding that the Commission is “about equality and giving people what they need to get over that 6 foot wall.”

Martin added “I don’t want to create another system that groups people together”. She hopes the Student Poverty Commission will capture real life stories, because “Everyone has different barriers”.

Looking forward to giving students a voice, the NUS President said “I’m really excited, even though [the financial challenges faced by students are] really shit.” 

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