University of Lincoln Students’ Union disaffiliate with the National Union of Students.
Over the past 18 months, the Executive Committee of the Students’ Union has been looking into our affiliation with the National Union of Students (NUS) on the basis of its representative function to our students, locally in Lincoln, as well as the impact our members have seen.
We consulted at great depth with students across the university, from Course Reps to Campaigns Network Officers as well as day-to-day students who have had various interactions with NUS.
It was clear that this was a significant matter for our student and as I previously wrote to our membership earlier this year, NUS has been a difficult discussion point in terms of the impact that our students have felt on the ground.
Without exploring too much detail and repeating what has been said already, the consultations we had with students last winter were presented. Issues in relation to NUS’ finances as well as the difficulties with engagement that several iterations of the Executive Committees experienced were explored.
It was clear that there were questions around efficacy and representation, value for money and advocacy. And the Executive Committee was tasked to further explore this and ensure that the best experience and outcome for our students was reached.
On the backdrop of these conversations, the Trustee Board of the Students’ Union had also been having conversations around NUS and its impact. The affiliation fee that the Union pays to NUS has been upwards of £48,000 and this year it is expected to be around £56,700.
The Trustees have overall responsibility to ensure that, from a financial resource perspective, the Union is being efficient and utilising resources to ensure that the charitable objectives of the SU are achieved.
They commissioned legal advice on NUS’ activities in relation to the payments that the Union was making to NUS. That legal advice inferred that, in line with the responsibilities that the Trustees have to the Union, this particular use of financial resource was potentially not meeting the charitable objectives of the SU. This meant that the Board had to make considerations about the SU’s future with NUS - but as with the nature of this matter, the student voice was paramount.
The Student Leaders consulted with NUS, with our members, and with other SU officers up and down the country. We contributed to the White Paper and Reforms put forward following the difficulties experienced with NUS.
The conclusion we reached was that it was worth exploring our relationship and affiliation with NUS. On the 12th of June, as President of the Students’ Union - I proposed to our Trustee Board that the Union give notice for its disaffiliation, noting the difficulties that the Union has experienced the past few years and the lack of impact that has been seen by our students. This proposal was accepted.
It has always been important that students remained a part of this very critical decision and conversation. This was done extensively over the past few months.
The decision was made on the basis that the student political impact experienced by our members had been lacking. It was made on the basis that the affiliation fee that the SU pays was too much for what we received in return. It was made on the basis that the resource put towards NUS could be put back into our students in Lincoln.
As a new Executive Committee team takes the helm next academic year, it is significant that these conversations with students continue.
We will disaffiliate with NUS on the 31st December 2019 but welcome the student voice on these issues. It is a decision that has been proactively made by our Board with the knowledge that students have been consulted with extensively. Our students’ experience will always be at the forefront of our actions and this is a decision made with that in mind.
Records of consultation with students regarding NUS can be found here:
Minutes from All Student Members Meeting on the 25th April 2018.
Minutes from All Student Members Meeting on the 4th February 2019.
Twitter thread following NUS Conference 2019.
Update from me to all members on 3rd May 2019.
If you have any questions or comments on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact [email protected].