The National Union of Students (NUS) have called for a National Education Service in the UK.
The new president of the NUS, an organisation to which the University of Southampton is not affiliated, outlined to a three-day conference of students’ union officers entitled Lead and Change a ten-year plan for implementing such a proposal.
Zamzam Ibrahim, who came into her role at the start of this month, said to the conference:
[T]hink of the National Education Service like the NHS for education. Where there is a common vision, but nuanced provision, which takes account of devolved governments, modes of learning, and the breadth of our learners.
Striking a tone which attempted to move away from the kind of competition currently active within UK higher education, Ms Ibrahim commented that the system should not be about winners and losers in a market, but about education for public good.
The NUS have released details of a three-phase plan, which includes, ‘build[ing]a new vision for a NES within 6 months‘, winning the public argument within three years, and implementing the proposal within ten years.
Ms Ibrahim noted that the National Education Service should not just be for young learners, but should be accessible ‘lifelong‘, and which she conceded that the plans were ‘ambitious‘, she argued that ‘just too many students depending on us‘.
The newly unveiled policy is similar to the National Education Service proposed by the Labour Party manifesto in 2017 which pledged to give ‘people confidence and hope by making education a right, not a privilege, and build[…] bridges where the Conservatives build barriers‘.
The news from the NUS comes just three weeks after its president wrote in her inaugural message that she would like to see a ‘”cradle-to-grave”‘ education system free for everyone in the nation.