What is the NUS?
The National Union of Students
was created in 1922 as a confederation of students’ unions to give a national voice to students in higher education. The NUS is a membership organisation that aims to promote, defend and extend the rights of students and the interests of Students’ Unions across the UK. 95% of Students' Unions are affiliated to NUS. Each Students' Union pays an annual fee to be a member of NUS and receives several benefits for themselves and their students for doing so. Members also send representatives to democratic events throughout the year to vote on NUS' policies and priorities.
NUS is a group of separate organisations all working together; NUS UK, NUS Charitable Services and NUS Services Ltd. NUS UK is the democratic lobbying arm of the organisation, whilst NUS Charitable Services and NUS Services Ltd focus on maximising benefit to students' unions.
NUS is reforming on 1 July 2020, to become two separate organisations with the same shared values, but two distinct and different purposes. NUS UK will continue be a national campaigning force. NUS Charitable Services, will aim to support students through the provision of strong Students’ Unions.
These reforms follow an announcement made in October 2018, that NUS was facing significant financial challenges. As a result, they needed to make savings of an estimated £3million, and have a sustainable financial plan for the future. In April 2019 NUS has conducted wide-ranging consultation with its member unions and has published proposals for reform, which were approved at National Conference
in April and have since been implemented.
NUS UK will be led by an elected Executive team of student representatives, including the National President of NUS and six other full time paid officers. This team sits on the board of directors which oversees both NUS UK and the NUS Charity.
Each of the NUS organisations will be funded through the payment of an annual fee from its affiliates (students’ unions), alongside other income generated through commercial arrangements, agreements or grants and external funding. Affiliates and their students will receive several benefits, impact and value in exchange.
By being a member of NUS UK students can shape and inform its policy and campaigns, sending student representatives to democratic events to vote on national policies and campaign priorities. By being a member of the NUS Charity students’ unions can access up to date and relevant information, advice and guidance on matters of major importance to students’ unions. The charity will also curate services and partnerships so that students’ unions can collectively purchase products, commission services and devise group projects.
NUS UK Reform
A summary of the NUS reform proposal is publicly available here, the proposals became legal at the company law meeting in May 2019. At this point the rules and articles which govern and shape NUS were revised:
NUS UK Articles of Association – May 2019
NUS UK Rules – May 2019
Why you should vote Yes for NUS
If the history of the student movement shows us anything, it’s that where students lead, others follow. Those who founded NUS had a vision of a peaceful dialogue between nations and international solidarity that still drives so many of our members today. You may not know this, but it was NUS that fought for students’ access to universal healthcare in the 1930s when the NHS was still a pipe dream; it was NUS at the forefront of campaigns on Apartheid and LGBT+ and women’s rights in the 1960s and 1970s when these were seen by those in power as eccentric or marginal causes.
More recently, it was NUS, students’ unions and student activists who first evidenced that sexual violence and harassment were a serious issue on our campuses; who have been exposing the racial inequities in attainment and how this reflects a wider issue of a colonial education system; and who have been highlighting the increasing burden of accommodation costs and the spiralling rents in both the private and university-owned sectors.
For the current generation of students, it can seem like you’re facing challenges in every direction: the climate emergency; Brexit and the xenophobia and racism it has generated; the changing shape of employment in the coming decades; and much more. And the Coronavirus outbreak has brought into stark relief just how relevant an organisation that’s focused on representing student interests and fighting to win for them really is today.
NUS has been active and fighting for students on Coronavirus, well before the UK lockdown began. We’ve secured student loan payments for the remainder of this academic year, encouraged private landlords to waive rents or terminate leases early, and engaged over 110 MPs in support of our housing campaign. In Scotland, we’ve secured a £5 million hardship fund, and in Wales, we’ve fed into the way forward for teacher training. We’ve also called for a national approach to exams and assessment and are supporting the COVID and Mental Health survey to ensure the impact of the virus on student mental health is known at the highest levels in government.
Now we’re taking our Student Safety Net asks to government, seeking the financial protection students need in the short and long term, backed up by evidence from over 10,000 students across the country, just like you.
Yes, times of huge change can be daunting, but we believe that, by working together, as a movement of students, we can really make a difference to the lives of students today and tomorrow. Only by working together can we win for students. Only with your involvement can we keep delivering for you.
Pre-COVID 19 our NUS UK Plan for Action 2019/20NUS-UK-Plan-for-action-2019-20 did achieve results; you can read about these in the National Conference report and video. You can see how your union helped to influence that work in your membership statement.Union-of-Brunel-Students-Membership-statement-2020
This is why your continued membership of NUS UK and NUS Charity is so important. It’s why you should vote yes to NUS.
Why leave the NUS, the question should be why should we stay!
The NUS has had its time and for far too long it has been ineffective and inactive, relying on its past activism and blind loyalty from students’ unions across the country to survive. Brunel’s own officer team support the call to leave the NUS and you should too.
Put the power back in Brunel’s own hands to have its own say.
- To be in the NUS Brunel is charged £50,000 per year (2019/20)
Brunel has faces the prospect of reduced funding, this combined with the loss of income from the COVID-19 crisis means every penny counts, so the idea of throwing away between £50,000 - £22,198 is crazy.
- The NUS is financially unstable and nearly went bankrupt, and are now halving the number of representatives and staff members
In 2018 the NUS announced it was facing a potential £3 million debt by June 2019 , leading to drastic reform and reduction in services, that we are we paying for. Why should Brunel fund an organisation that clearly cannot manage money, and is providing a service we do not need or use.
- The NUS visited Brunel once last year for their own event, showing complete dis-interest in us
The NUS used Brunel as a back drop to launch their manifesto campaign and despite our best efforts we could only muster around 20 of our students that wanted to be part of the launch. This is a blatant example of the lack of support for the NUS at Brunel and how little they feature in our student lives.
- Of all of the events held by NUS the Brunel officer team saw value in attending only 2 events and one training session
Not only do the officer team not see the benefit of attending conferences they can be hostile and unrepresented places, especially within the liberation group conferences. Furthermore, the NUS has seen fit to combine many of their conferences to reduce costs, but ultimately this just reduces representation.
- The NUS is doing less and less to help you, and for the price we pay that is unacceptable
In the pack provided by NUS for the next academic year there were no planned campaigns that specifically help Brunel students or directly help students nationally. The NUS has received numerous criticisms throughout the years from many sources around lack of democratic representation as well as direct attacks on students/ unions.
- Brunel can be part of the 16 students’ unions that have left NUS and continue to thrive independently
NUS is failing, in more ways than one and this is clear when of the 16 disaffiliated universities 8 have been in the last four years.
Instead of asking why we should leave the NUS simply ask yourself, what has the NUS done for me?
Click here for our Referendum Campaigning Rules 2020
How much does it cost us to affiliate to NUS?
We have been quoted £27,747.28 to affiliate to all of NUS for the next academic year. £22,197.82 of this is the cost to affiliate to NUS UK.
What will happen to my existing TOTUM card?
All purchased TOTUM cards will remain valid until the expiry date shown on the card.
Will I still be able to use TOTUM?
You will not be able to purchase a TOTUM card if we leave NUS.
What do we mean by a majority?
A majority outcome means that the option that has the most number of votes will win. We require a 50% + 1 majority in this referendum.
What is meant by quorum?
Quorum is the minimum number of votes by which the Referendum is considered valid. The quorum for this Referendum is set at 5% of our members.
What happens if we don’t reach quorum?
If a quorum is not met the status quo will remain.
Will leaving NUS UK impact on my studies/club membership?
Should we disaffiliate, your studies and your membership to us will not be affected
Will I still be able to receive representation?
The Union will still function in the same way. All members are entitled to representation and this support will still be available whatever the outcome.
Will local and national student issues still be championed by the Union if we leave the NUS UK?
The Union Officers will still be able to champion these issues via regional relationships with other Students’ Unions and by building a close partnership with local MP’s and Councillors.