NUS-USI President Fergal McFerran has said that one of the key stories of the general election is the massive increase in the turnout of student and young people. He said it’s vital that politicians listen to students and deliver their objectives and he outlined the need for freedom of movement for students across the EU to be guaranteed. He also said that Northern Ireland politics will be centre stage at Westminster in the coming days, and stated that this further underlines the urgent need for a Stormont deal to deliver coherent devolved government in Northern Ireland.
NUS-USI President Fergal McFerran said: “Initial reports suggest that students and young people turned out in significant numbers in this election and in doing so brought their hopes and ambitions directly to the ballot box. I’m incredibly proud of the work that the student movement carried out in contributing to that increased youth turnout but now is the time for those who have secured a mandate to sit up and listen.
“With devolution in Northern Ireland still at risk and as negotiations to leave the European Union draw closer we need our politicians to put rhetoric and campaign slogans aside and to commit to engaging meaningfully with civic society to find the common ground required to deliver solutions to the challenges we face as an entire society. That must be our collective priority.
“Circumstances following the General Election now mean that Northern Ireland is likely to be centre stage and so my plea is that politicians think carefully about the kind of society they are offering to the generations of young people whose futures will be shaped by the decisions and agreements that are made in the days and weeks to come.
“We believe it is vital to see a fully funded education system that addresses the systemic underfunding within higher and further education in Northern Ireland. We emphasise the importance of student mobility across the Island of Ireland in the context of Brexit and ask that securing that free movement and improving access to third level education is prioritised.
“The spotlight that will be shown on Northern Ireland politics in the next few days and weeks clearly highlights the urgent need for a Stormont devolution deal to be done as swiftly as possible so that government can resume at the Assembly.
“Now is the time for renewed good will, mature political leadership and united commitment to serving the best interests of the entirety of our people.”