The Manifesto for our future

There will be a General Election in 2024. We've built the Manifesto for our Future, backed by 10,000 students and apprentices across the UK.

The Manifesto sets out what students and apprentices what to see from the next government to improve student life, education and society as a whole. We're hosting the live manifesto here, on What Students Think, and will be updating with the latest stats as we get closer to the election.

The Manifesto for our future

There will be a General Election in 2024. We've built the Manifesto for our Future, backed by 10,000 students and apprentices across the UK.

The Manifesto sets out what students and apprentices what to see from the next government to improve student life, education and society as a whole. We're hosting the live manifesto here, on What Students Think, and will be updating with the latest stats as we get closer to the election.

We are Students

Download the full Manifesto for our Future here

There’s no singular type of student. We’re of all ages, cultures, faiths, and backgrounds. Some of us are training for a specific job and some of us are learning with no career in mind yet. Some of us leave home to study, some of us commute, and some of us study online. Some of us have scraped together the money to retrain because our industries are changing so rapidly.

The truth is that we’re all students at one point or another in our lives. Being a student means investing in our own future and the future of our societyIn a few years’ time, we will be teachers, nurses, electricians, pilots, doctors, vets, dentists, carers, actors, musicians, artists, engineers, coders, scientists, therapists, analysts and data experts.

But what sort of future are we heading towards? Honestly, the future is looking pretty bleak. The cost-of-living crisis, the crisis in the NHS, the mental health crisis, the housing crisis, the climate crisis. We’re becoming the Crisis Generation.

To change the future, we have to act now. We need a new vision for our future that disrupts the crisis cycle and prioritises quality of life and protecting our planet. As an absolute bare minimum, we need a government willing to alleviate the impacts of the crisis cycle on people’s lives here and now.

But the only thing worth our votes at the next General Election is a vision for a decent future for people and planet with a credible plan to deliver it.

So, to politicians and parties looking for our votes we say… This is our future. We’re here for it. Are you?

The Manifesto

Our vision is of a future where people can thrive, not just survive. We believe radical, bold change is needed. But we know that’s not easy: our Manifesto brings together pragmatic realism and concrete suggestions that can make a concrete difference to students’ lives in the first 100 days of a new government, with the visionary hope that we all need for the future.

Section 1: In the first 100 days, break the student crisis cycle

Students are struggling with basic necessities like food, rent, and travel. 94% of students are cutting back on necessities. Our studies and our health are suffering. We need urgent action. Click here to read this section on our policy ideas.

Section 2: Invest in a thriving future, invest in education

Education is the only thing that will equip us to solve the great challenges of the future. But the funding model is at breaking point. No more sticking plasters: we need funding and curriculum reform. Click here to read this section on our policy ideas.

Section 3: Homes for our futures

We have 50p per week left after our rent. Inflated property value harms everyone other than the lenders. And it is the single biggest factor in the cost-of-living crisis. Click here to read this section on our policy ideas.

Section 4: A welcoming and inclusive future

The ‘hostile environment’ and the ‘culture wars’ have divided our society, stoked hate, and increased racism. On top of that, it costs our economy when we can’t fill essential jobs and when international students can’t live, work, and study here. Click here to read this section on our policy ideas.

Section 5: A healthy future

The mental health crisis and the crisis in the NHS are only symptoms of our generation being poorly paid, stressed, and the oppression we face. We need to address both the mental health crisis right now and the root issues that are making us unwell. Click here to read this section on our policy ideas.

 

Statistics in the Manifesto for our Future

Data from What Students Think

The Manifesto for our Future is based on consultation with more than 10,000 students and apprentices and more than 500 universities, colleges and training providers across the UK.

As part of the consultation process, 7,500 students and apprentices took part in polling on www.whatstudentsthink.org.uk. In November 2023 students and apprentices had the opportunity to vote on their priorities in ten distinct policy areas. The results of this voting can be found here:

 

Statistics referenced in the Manifesto for our Future:

Section 1: In the first 100 days, break the student crisis cycle - Read this section here

  • 65% of students are cutting back on food (ONS, September 2023)
  • 77% of students' families' wages are impacted by the cost-of-living crisis (NUS, November 2022)
  • 46% of students' mental health has worsened since September 2023 (ONS, 2023)
  • Of full-time students who work, 1 in 5 work more than 20 hours a week (NUS, 2023)
What Students Think (NUS, 2023):
  • 84% of students believe tuition fees should be abolished.
  • 89% of students believe it should be easier to access further education.
  • 86% of students want parties to address high-quality apprenticeships.

Section 2: Invest in a thriving future, invest in education - Read this section here

  • Graduates earning over £27,500 pay a marginal tax rate of 41% (Bloomberg, 2022)
  • 73% of graduates starting in 2022 will never pay back their student loans in full (House of Commons Library, 2023)
  • 17.1m adults lack the digital skills for their jobs (NCFE, 2023)
  • The UK's skills shortage will cost us £120bn by 2030 (Learning & Work Institute, 2023)
What Students Think (NUS, 2023):
  • 84% of students believe tuition fees should be abolished.
  • 89% of students believe it should be easier to access further education.
  • 86% of students want parties to address high-quality apprenticeships.

Section 3: Homes for our futures - Read this section here

  • The average students has 50p to live off per week after paying rent (Unipol, HEPI, 2023)
  • Student accommodation prices have increased by 61% since 2012 (NUS, Unipol, 2021)
  • 2 in 5 students have considered dropping out due to the cost of rent and bills (NUS Scotland, 2023)
  • England's 25m homes emit 58.5m tonnes of CO2 each year (National Housing Federation, 2021)
What Students Think (NUS, 2023):
  • 94% of students think there should be a cap or controls on rent – with 74% listing this as a main priority.
  • 87% of students said more affordable accommodation should be built.
  • 93% of students agree there should be more investment in greener public transport and housing, with 71% listing this as a main priority

Section 4: A welcoming and inclusive future - Read this section here

  • 70% of hate crime in the UK in 2022-23 was racially motivated (Home Office, 2023)
  • 1 in 3 international students have to work while they study (NUS, 2023)
  • 64% of the UK public believe the UK should host as many if not more international students (UUK, 2023)
What Students Think (NUS, 2023):
  • 95% of students think more should be done to tackle sexual violence and misconduct.
  • 77% of students think the working hours cap for international students should be dropped.
  • 96% of students think more should be done to make campus life accessible for disabled students and apprentices.

Section 5: A healthy future - Read this section here

What Students Think (NUS, 2023):
  • 98% of students want to see NHS waiting times reduced.
  • 77% of students believe that investment in mental health and wellbeing services in the NHS, in education and online should be a main priority.
  • 62% of students saw the extension of the provision of transition-related healthcare as a priority issue.