Students’ Unions break away from NUS

Photo: Alun Carr

Tension surrounding the NUS has grown to new heights, with Lincoln and Newcastle confirmed as the first in a possible series of universities to disaffiliate from the organisation.

Following a controversial National Union of Students (NUS) national conference earlier this month, universities such as Exeter, Oxford and Cambridge are now expected to hold a referendum to decide the fate of their membership.

Other universities with campaigns to leave include Warwick, Nottingham, Hull, Loughborough and Bangor. At the time of print Cardiff Students’ Union have not indicated that they will following suit.

Last week York University student media also disclosed that NUS membership has increased by £5,000 in a year to a total of £47,000.

Meanwhile Lincoln and Newcastle universities have officially disaffiliated from the organisation last week, with both SU presidents stating that “we no longer felt confident that the NUS represented the views of our students.”

Newcastle SU President has stated that he hopes that the decision will make the student body aware of their “shortcomings”, whilst Lincoln SU President explained that the decision is a result of an ongoing distance between NUS policies and the views of students.

However it is important to note that although the Lincoln University’s decision was made by a student-led referendum, only 12 per cent of the student population turned out to vote. With 881 people choosing to leave over 804 voting to stay, Lincoln Students’ Union has reassured the media that there will be no noticeable difference on campus despite not being a NUS member. However, the NUS itself has contested that the move will cost the SU more than £150,000 and cause an inflation of prices on campus.

Lincoln representatives were quick to clarify that the decision was not influenced the election of the first Muslim NUS President Malia Bouattia, who has previously attracted media attention after describing Birmingham University as a “zionist outpost”.

Instead criticism has been voiced about the organisation’s “hard left policies” and policies such as no-platforming potentially offensive speakers.

One writer for the The Spectator claimed: “From stipulating what fancy-dress costumes students can wear to rolling out national consent-class campaigns, NUS politicos are more interested in regulating students than fighting for their interests”.

By contrast, others have stated that remaining in the NUS is vital to protect Black and Ethnic Minority students from government legislation such as the ‘Prevent’ campaign. According to Cambridge University student newspaper Varsity, this new policy allows higher education institutions the right to single out groups of students and use diversity rates to assess terrorism threats.

Currently the NUS relies on its 600 members for funding. Commenting on Lincoln’s recent departure, President Megan Dunn said: “NUS has always campaigned tirelessly on issues that affect students every day, most recently the cost of living crisis, housing, NHS bursaries, maintenance grants and college closures.

“The student movement is stronger when we stand together, and NUS is disappointed to see University of Lincoln Students’ Union go.”

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