The following press release is a statement from the 2016/17 Executive Committee of the University of Essex Students’ Union. It outlines their position on Essex’s membership of the National Union of Students, in relation to the upcoming NUS Referendum.
This statement has been written following the meeting of the Executive Committee on Tuesday 21st February. This statement is representative of the views of the Executive Committee of the Students’ Union.
Students have called for a referendum into our membership of the National Union of Students (NUS). This means that there will be a vote held, cross-campus, for students to decide if we should continue to be a member of NUS, or if we should leave. This vote will be held on the 27th and 28th April 2017.
NUS is an organisation made up of approximately 600 Further and Higher Education Students’ Unions across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. They are set up to represent students at a national level on all things to do with education and student rights.
There has been a discussion for several years at Essex on exactly what we get from NUS, and it’s worth. There has also been discussion more recently that NUS does not accurately represent the views of Essex students, that it has become too political, and less effective as an organisation.
With the upcoming referendum, it has been noted that the Executive Committee have more involvement with NUS than the majority of Essex students. With the exception of the NUS Extra Card, there is not a great deal of engagement that students have with NUS. Therefore it is our responsibility, as a committee that have more involvement and are more educated on NUS as an organisation, to educate students on the organisation. It is also our responsibility to give our view, as a Committee, on how we feel students should vote in this referendum.
It is the collective view of the Executive Committee that students should vote to Leave the NUS.
Firstly, we believe that NUS is no longer representative of the students or student officers at the University of Essex. The politicisation of NUS, combined with the ineffective and non-inclusive tactics employed through campaigns and democracy, has led us to take the view that NUS is no longer a tool that we as an Executive Committee can utilise.
Secondly, the services provided by NUS are neither used nor are they useful to us as a Students’ Union. From NUSSL (the Buying Consortium) through to UnionCloud (the website hosting platform), NUS no longer provides any services that this Students’ Union has need or desire for.
Thirdly, it is our belief that as a non-affiliated Students’ Union, our national voice is not muffled, but rather more targeted and relevant to the students that we seek to represent. In this academic year, we have witnessed one non-social visit to the University from NUS. While we found this trip useful for clarification, it was generally accepted that this trip did nothing to assuage our concerns, or convince us of a worth in membership to NUS.
Finally, it would be irresponsible of us to not consider the financial implications of such a referendum. It is common knowledge that there have been many negotiations on our affiliation fee to NUS this academic year, and in general there has been discontent with the ever-increasing affiliation fee paid by the Students’ Union. By leaving NUS, there is a direct financial saving to the organisation. We fully appreciate that there will be some loss of staff training through this move, that must be factored into the redistribution of the saved money. However, on the whole, the Executive Committee recognises that there will be a direct financial saving, with a direct impact being seen by students, from voting to Leave.
As an Executive Committee, the decision has been taken to hold a stance, that is to urge a vote of Leave the NUS. However, we would also like to stress that there will be a free and fair referendum, with equal resource and rules to both campaigns. We look forward to a healthy and honest referendum.
– SU Executive Committee”
Disclaimer: These are the views of the SU Executive Committee, and not those of Rebel, who have chosen not to take a position on the upcoming referendum. We strive to cover the events of the vote without bias for either campaign.