NUS Changes and Concerns

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By Zain Sardar on 29.2.2024

NUS Changes and Concerns

The NUS has decided to change its structure and the way it works in what has been hailed as a revolutionary paper; the ‘Governance review’. Many students, however, have expressed dissatisfaction and unease as they question how democratic the changes are.

The NUS have claimed it has consulted widely in coming up with its proposed changes. However, at some universities, such as Sussex it has be said that ‘there was no consultation process, not a single Student Union (bar Brighton SU) in the whole of Sussex had even heard of the review’ and that ‘ordinary students knew nothing about it.’

Under the new guidelines outlined by the Governance Review, the current Treasurer and Secretary roles within the NUS will be removed and their ‘internal functions’ will be moved to the board.

The new proposed board will be made up of 12 people that will exercise control and have a veto over decisions made by others that may put the organisation in legal and financial peril within the NUS. It will contain a National President, 5 full time officers, 3-6 external members and 3 ordinary student members. The external members or ‘external trustees’ will be recruited by a sub-committee of the board and so will not be elected.

Some students have raised concerns in response to this that these positions could well be ‘abused massively’ and have the consequence of effectively silencing ordinary student opinion, especially as it seen that the board will have very little student input.

The board will also “develop and implement a planning and budgeting process, with results approved by the Annual Conference/ Congress” adding to the anxiety that students feel that the agenda is set by the board.

The NUS annual conference, itself, will now discuss and approve ‘consensual’ policy reports from the zones. The Zonal conferences will discuss ideas that unions have submitted to them beforehand and come up with the consensual policy to be taken to the annual conference.

This has led some critics of the changes to raise concerns that this would make the conference shorter with less debate, and turn it into a mere “celebration of the NUS.” The conference would merely turn out to be a place where policy would be ‘rubber stamped’ while important matters would be “discussed outside the conference in Zone conferences and the senate.”

The problem that is seen by various students is that the “NUS has become increasingly undemocratic and more resilient to the demands of ordinary students” and “under-represents further education institutions like 6th forms and colleges.”

The proposed changes to the NUS structure will thus be “another step to take power away from unions, consolidate it further in the centre and detract away from ordinary students.”

Dissenting students have dubbed the governance review and its proposed changes as “a step in the wrong direction.”

Last term, here at Kent University, a motion to ‘defend NUS democracy’ was submitted to Union Council only to be withdrawn at the very last minute. The concerns that were raised in the motion were that the Governance review ‘contains a number of sweeping measures’ that would give ‘no guarantee of representation for women, Black, LGBT, disabled and international students.’

Education Sabbatical, Tom Christian, had to say in response to people’s concerns that “real change is often controversial forcing many to leave their comfort zones, but I’m confident these reforms are just what the national student movement needs in order to effect real change on behalf of students everywhere.”



Comments

  • Zain, you cannot just quote fellow socialist student, you have to present a balanced argument. giving an entire article to the words of someone who has one view on the argument is hardly good journalism or fair reporting. perhaps next time you might give equal weighting to someone elses’ views!

    By Arjun Mittra on 16.3.2024

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  • The quotes are from a the currently elected Sussex Treasurer for next year, Lee Vernon, who is also part of the Socialist Students there.

    The original piece I wrote had his name in it but was edited out when it was originally going to put into the hard copy (so NOT by Charlie).

    Sussex are a far more politically active union then ourselves, the South East weighting campaign started off there, and so it’s significant that students there haven’t heard of the reforms in the union. How many have heard of it here? Hardly any too.

    By Zain Sardar on 15.3.2024

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  • At last! Controversy!

    Can I take the opportunity to say that there is something wrong with the article when I end up defending the NUS!

    We have the usual tactic of quoting people, but not saying where the quotes come from, i mean we know about protecting sources, but it’s a bit arrogant to assume this is Watergate!

    Then there is the tactic of quoting whoever you agree with. why not ask other unions what they think? why is Sussex the fountain of all knowledge?

    Why is it that othe other side of the story gets one small paragraph at the end? is it that exposure to others views may indeed expose your own?

    My favourite part is when you say that “some students hae raised…” which students? when? are they just your friends, or a genuinely representative sample?

    However the best part of the debate is the editor saying that a comment, when written in the style of news, becomes it. To borrow a phrase from Blackadder, it’s about as convincing a disguise as the time Tarzan went through Jane’s handbag and ate her lipstick.

    An apt metaphor indeed.

    By Arjun Mittra on 4.3.2024

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  • The editor of InQuire Live assaulted me with a jelly bean in BB’s cafe – what’s going to be done about it?

    But on the matter of the NUS Governance review I do think that the Kent Union NUS delegation could of put together some facts explaining what the hell was happening. We need to consult more – outside of elections and poorly attended AGM’s.

    I would like to add that I am not attacking any individual in the union (sensitive to the fact we are in election season).

    By Shaun Nichols on 4.3.2024

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  • aspects of it are comment, however the way it is written is predominately news style, the bottom line is that it was pulled from the paper, after consultation with yourself, whether melodramatic or not, that is still an indisputable fact.

    By website-editor on 3.3.2024

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  • Oh come on Charlie, don’t be so melodramatic. You know as well as I do that nobody tried to “ban” this article. It got shown to me by your fellow jounalists and I said I thought it belonged in ‘Comment’ not ‘News’ and they agreed. Clearly they can recognise a one-sided argument when they see one.

    By Tom Christian on 3.3.2024

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  • Somewhat delightfully, this is a banned article, the union, as can seen bellow, put pressure on inQuire to remove it, the paper did so, but here it is, what Tom Christian doesn’t want you to read, wunderbar!

    By website-editor on 3.3.2024

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  • As you know Zain I’m concerned by the lack of consultation you’ve made in putting together this article. I understand it takes time to contact and get quotes from the individuals involved in putting together the Governence Review but I think its important in order to give students a well rounded argument. I have one or two questions:

    1. Are you aware that Sussex SU is one of the leading opposers to this review and therefore not truely representative of the wider demographic of Students’ Unions across the country who voted overwhelmingly for these reforms?

    2. Why have you not said that the incumbant Secretary and Treasurer are 100% behind scrapping their roles?

    3. In paragraphs 5 through to 11 you have quotes right, left, and centre but have not cited who has made them! Who are these people?

    4. Why have you failed to ask the person bringing the motion to ‘defend NUS democracy’to Union Council, why he withdrew it?

    5. Who in the NUS have you talked to that was involved in the year long consultation process and then the creation of the Governence Review?

    6. Have you asked any of Kent Union’s 8 NUS Delegates other then me how they voted for the Review? I’ll give you this one, it was all of us!

    Love you Zain, good to have a convo about this!

    By Tom Christian on 2.3.2024

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