NUS Wales has submitted its motions for its upcoming Annual Conference, with issues for discussion including poor student accommodation, increases in university hate crime and the potential of creating paid part-time student officer positions.
With upcoming Cardiff Students’ Union elections, a motion was proposed criticising current regulation stating that a sabbatical or paid union position cannot be held for more than two years. The motion explained that as a result of the act, part time positions cannot be paid without it counting towards their two year limit, stopping part time positions from applying for full time roles. As a result, it was suggested that the NUS lobby the Welsh Assembly Government to amend the act to allow part time positions to be paid without contributing to any time limits.
Highlighting issues surrounding poor quality student accommodation, a motion was proposed calling on the NUS to engage with political parties for support. With this combined effort, it was suggested that a system be established allowing local authorities to tax landlords if student accommodation falls beneath acceptable standards.
A separate motion was also created suggesting that the NUS formulate their own policy on rent control and lobby for legislation to remove agency letting fees.
Following a motion passed in Aberystwyth Students’ Union declaring no confidence in their local health board, the third motion called for greater engagement of the NHS with students’ unions and other institutions. The motion explained that a quarter of a million students will use the NHS during their studies, and as such the NUS must develop guidelines and support students’ unions working with local health boards.
Following recent political debate about future devolution in Wales, a motion was proposed by the NUS National Executive Committee calling for the NUS to run a public campaign in the run up to the general elections appealing for parties to commit to further devolution. The motion suggested that students’ unions provide resources and education regarding devolution to create an easily understood guide to the matter. It was also recommended that NUSW help create a cross party conference amongst Welsh MPs to raise awareness of its devolved vision.
The announcement made in the government’s autumn statement to introduce post-graduate funding was also featured in the agenda, with a motion appealing for NUSW President to lobby the Welsh Assembly for their own funding system. In the motion, it was proposed that a commitment for the system be made by the end of the year.
In a bid to improve higher education sexual education, including information on non-heterosexual sexualities, a motion was proposed to encourage the Welsh Assembly to ‘toughen its stance’ on prescribing a curriculum in schools about sexual education. The motion also suggested that a campaign be established by the NUS in order to bridge the gaps in knowledge of university students who have not received a comprehensive sexual education.
Voicing concerns over prospective future cuts made by the Welsh Assembly over student funding, one motion called for the NUS to lobby the Welsh Assembly to continue its current Higher Education Financial Contingency Fund Pot. It was suggested that the NUS help students’ unions to campaign about the issue on campus and encourage students’ unions to address the matter with Vice Chancellors.
A motion was proposed by Aberystwyth Students’ Union in order to overcome hate crime in Wales. The motion voiced concerns that hate crimes are currently being under reported, with students unwilling to report such crimes to the police. Instead, it was suggested that students’ unions become hate crime ‘reporting centres’ with the help of victim support facilities.
In the agenda, it was also pointed out that following the closure of Welsh youth assembly ‘Funky Dragon’, Wales remains the only country in Europe without a National Youth assembly. As a result, it was suggested that the NUS work with the British Youth Council in the run up to the general election to promote greater student engagement. The motion also proposed lobbying for the WAG to recreate a similar youth assembly.
Other issues discussed in the agenda include current inadequate grants for those receiving the Welsh Government Learning Grant. To resolve the issue, it was suggested that the NUS appeal to the Welsh government for a revaluation of current funding support systems.
A Westminster budget cut for current disabled students allowance was also addressed, with suggestions for students’ unions to discuss the matter with local MPs, and university Vice Chancellors.
The NUS Wales Annual Conference will take place on the 11th and 12th of March 2015 at the Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wales. During the conference, the motions will be voted on by NUS Delegates.