Birmingham graduate Fabian Neuner said students were among the big winners in this year’s Budget, despite warnings from the Chancellor that universities would have to cut funding in the future.
The head of the University of Birmingham’s Guild of Students welcomed the Government’s commitment to extend the opportunity of work or training for all under-24s who are out of work for six months until 2012.
He said this was a vote winner for students given that it could benefit some 56,000 graduates in the West Midlands.
The 22-year-old, who lives in Selly Oak, was also encouraged by the one-off payment of £270 million to universities to fund 20,000 new university places in science and maths, even though institutions are expected to make savings elsewhere.
He also welcomed the introduction of a £35 million enterprise fund to help university-launched businesses.
“There was a lot of really good stuff for students to be happy about,” he said.
“Fifty-six thousand people will benefit from the extension of the six-month training and work guarantee. Against a backdrop of funding cuts, it was refreshing to see more investment in enterprise funds which will support those areas where investment is crucial to recovery.
“It was good to make a commitment to funding additional places in science, engineering and maths because these are areas students are attracted to.”
Mr Neuner, whose role with the Guild requires him to represent the interests and needs of students, said the routine increase in duty on cigarettes and alcohol was of no consequence to undergraduates.
“It’s not much of a talking point for us,” he said. “It will be picked up by the public as being so, but what students are most concerned about is whether they will have a job after they graduate.”
As Guild president, he was was not allowed to express a political opinion but did suggest the Budget would be considered a triumph for Labour.
He said: “If you look at it and what’s happened in terms of the recession, I’m quite persuaded by this Budget. I think it really does show how you can get out of a recession without hurting citizens too much.”