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Unions get together with institutions and experts to Champion Mature Students

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Delegates from a wide range of students unions, institutions and sector bodies attended the Championing Mature Students conference, organised by NUS.

The event took place at Staffordshire University and was opened by their vice-chancellor, Professor Michael Gunn.

It was a highly stimulating event which sought to stimulate debate and discussion on the future of mature and part-time learning, particualrly in the wake of the worrying figures showing a 40 per cent fall in part-time students since 2010.

Rachel Wenstone, NUS vice-president for Higher Education, gave a passionate speech calling for the sector to unite together to build a more collaborative and flexible approach to educational provision that links together further and higher education.

The conference also included the launch of NUS' child-free to child-friendly campaign, which invites unions to take part in a "ten steps" approach to providing a child-friendly campus by improving support and provisions for students with dependants.

The day came to a close with a lively panel debate, including vice-chancellor Prof. Gunn; Jeremy Lefroy MP, Member of Parliament for Stafford; Fraser Keir of the Open University; Toni Pearce, NUS VP further education; and Prof. Julie Mennell, deputy vice-chancellor at Sunderland.

NUS hope that the conference has helped to bring together key stakeholders and that this will stimulate further debate and action in the sector. Jeremy Lefroy MP stated at the conference that he would seek to raise the issue of the fall in mature and part-time student numbers in Parliament.

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