So I’ve just returned from NUS Annual Conference at the Winter Gardens Conference Hall in Blackpool: three glorious days of debate deals, games, backstabbing, time wasting, moaning, posturing, and politicking.
Have a look at my NUS Conference gallery for photos of me being abused by the other delegates.
Annual Conference is the 'sovereign body' of the NUS (the National Union of Students), as it makes all of the major policy decisions to direct the campaigns and finances of the organisation; and elects the next year's NUS officers.
Every year Warwick, as a fee-paying constituent member of the NUS, is entitled to send policy to be discussed, and delegates to vote on what happens. As President I get to go automatically as Warwick’s ‘delegation leader’. However as a big Union we also get 12 other delegates – you may remember electing them back in term 1! They were:
- Kam Mohaddes
- Carly Braddock
- Gareth Barker
- Kat Stark
- Mark Leggate
- Koyas Miah
- Zainab Abdallah
- AJ Brown
- Benny Spooner
- Mike Britland
- Diyana Kamaluddin
- Thomas Kempton
Each delegate is free to make up their own mind on how best to represent you when voting, with the exception of issues on which Warwick Students’ Union has already passed policy; then we vote in line with that policy.
The major issue that dominated the speeches at conference was that of NUS finances. For a number of years now, NUS has been operating at a loss, and next year projects that it will be over £700 000 in defecit. The estimates were presented by the National Treasurer. Conference voted to send them back to the Treasurer, who will need to present revised estimates to NUS National Council.
During the course of the week we also debated and passed a whole host of new NUS policies. Its important to understand that NUS policy isn’t binding on our Union here at Warwick (we can still do what we want) – it does however determine how the NUS will be spending the money we give them (currently £50k p/a) so its still very important to us.
The NUS will produce campaign materials for member Unions on the issues which it has policy on. It’ll give advice on these issues and the NUS’ Officers will also represent these issues on a national level to the Government, HEFCE, Universities UK, SCOP etc…
The following is a summary of the policy issues that were passed at conference:
MOTION ONE: STRONG & ACTIVE UNIONS
- To prioritize issues around student activities including free time (Wednesday afternoons free), accreditation for volunteers, and improving participation. (Your delegation voted FOR in line with policy)
- To work on interfaith issues and promote dialogue.
- To maintain a block of 12 part time officers on the NUS Executive Committee, elected by the whole conference. _(Your delegation voted FOR in line with policy) _
- To introduce a paid for 'NUS Extra' card offering discounts to students. _(Your delegation voted AGAINST in line with policy) _
- To improve participation of minority groups in sport.
- To improve communication issues around NUS conference. (Your delegation voted FOR in line with policy)
- To work on Postgraduate issues such as supervision and funding.
MOTION TWO: EDUCATION
To campaign against top-up fees and for grants _(Your delegation voted FOR in line with policy) _
To campaign for greater powers for the Office for Fair Access
To help Unions campaign against course closures
To run a priority campaign about Further Education issues.
MOTION THREE: WELFARE
To campaign for student rights in law: healthcare, housing etc.
To work to reduce crime against students
To campaign for an increase in the minimum wage.
To ensure that Union events and exams are not held on religious holidays.
To work to improve conditions for students under the Housing Bill.
To support Unions that have problems with student accommodation.
To run a pilot of student cooperative housing.
To support students who are asylum seekers.
To reaffirm the 'No Platform for racists and fascists' policy and to campaign against the BNP. _(Your Union voted FOR in line with policy) _
To campaign on mental health
To campaign for extended abortion rights and for sexual health. (Your delegation voted FOR in line with policy)
MOTION FOUR: SOCIETY & CITIZENSHIP
To support Make Poverty History, World AIDS Day and No Sweat
Certain key positions on next year’s National Executive Committee were also elected. The one’s that’ll have the biggest effect on our Union are:
- Kat Fletcher (re-elected President)
- Julian Nicholds, VP Education (and former president of Coventry SU)
- Veronica King, VP Welfare (current Welfare Sabb at Liverpool)
- Gemma Tumelty, National Secretary
- Joe Rukin, National Treasurer (and also a former President of Coventry)
If you’d like to know more about NUS then go to www.nusonline.co.uk or ask me a question below and I’ll do my best to answer.