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NUS launches general election manifesto

Student votes have the power to swing control of more than a quarter of seats in next year's general election, according to the National Union of Students.

Launching its general election manifesto, the NUS said its own analysis of census data showed that in 191 seats, full-time students represent a bigger proportion of the electorate than is needed for the seats to change hands. The seats include 81 currently held by the Conservatives, 76 held by Labour, and 25 held by the Liberal Democrats.

An NUS survey has found that nearly three quarters of students are now registered to vote, compared with two thirds in February this year.

Asked which factors would most influence their decision on polling day, 80 per cent mentioned the cost of living, 72 per cent employment, and the same proportion mentioned health.

Only a third of students said they identified with a particular party, with just 5 per cent planning to vote for the Liberal Democrats, a tenth backing the Conservatives, and a quarter expecting to vote Labour.

Three quarters of students felt that politicians could not be trusted to keep their promises, and 83 per cent agreed that politicians that break their promises should be held to account.

The NUS election manifesto, New Deal for the Next Generation, contains 30 demands. On higher education, it calls for tuition fees to be phased out and public funding of universities to be restored; a new postgraduate funding system that removes financial barriers to study; and a new insurance scheme that all universities and colleges would have to pay into to protect students in the event of institutional failure.

NUS President Toni Pearce said students were the "force to be reckoned with at the ballot box", and politicians should heed their demand for a right to recall those who lied to voters.

"Nick Clegg's broken tuition fee promise severely undermined trust in politicians, and saying sorry just isn't good enough," she said.