Policy passed at National Conference 2023
Democracy & Organising Within NUS
What’s the issue and how does it affect students?
This policy explores ‘Democracy and Organising Within NUS’, it follows an in depth exploration of delegates about the issues they have with the way NUS currently organises and a further investigation into possible solutions to address these problems.
Currently students face a number of issues with NUS UK and the way it currently organises we break this down into the following issues:
- Links between NUS’ officer team and students’ unions – the need to engage with unions.
- The need for NUS to support the development of the grassroots student movement
- The need for NUS to organise at a more regional level, particularly within England.
This policy was developed following proposals from a number of SU’s which provided the initial foundation of the discussion. Cambridge SU’s submission reflected on accountability and Lancaster’s submission on the need for a national student voice. Northumbria Students’ Union have raised the need for a stronger link to the Northeast and Sheffield SU have brought a proposal around a regional representation structure.
What changes would we like to see in society to change this?
NUS should forge stronger links between NUS, SU’s, and students, to connect NUS with students on the ground, this could include but should not be limited to:
- NUS should attend more localised SU activity throughout the year such as Freshers or Refreshers, to promote NUS and its work.
- Improved communication between NUS, SU’s and students about the ongoing work of NUS.
- Improvements to the feedback loop to delegates regarding the work that takes place following the policies at NUS Conferences.
NUS should provide more opportunities for students to engage and shape campaigning work, to support the growth and development of the grassroots student movement, this could include but should not be limited to:
- The creation of an online interactive hub that any student, of an NUS affiliated union, can join in order to get informed and involved in the work of NUS across the UK.
- Exploring new ways in which delegates can continue to be involved in the work of NUS post-conference.
- Supporting the development of grassroots, student-led, campaigns across the country that respond to local issues at an inter-SU level.
NUS should have better accountability mechanisms, in order to ensure that students can hold NUS to account, this could include but should not be limited to:
- Review the effectiveness of the National Scrutiny Council and its powers in holding NUS to account.
- Review the operation of Full-Time Officer Surgeries/Drop In’s to ensure that students can engage with their elected representatives.
- Review the ways in which students can scrutinise the finances of NUS, such as by providing clear, easy to understand, well communicated, financial information to students.
NUS should have a stronger presence in the English Regions, to respond to the different needs of students across England and tackle the North/South divide, this could include but should not be limited to:
- Ensure appropriate attention is given to the different regions of England, addressing areas of England that feel they are underrepresented by NUS.
- Organise more activity at a regional level, such as opportunities for SU sabbatical officers to come together.
- Support the development of campaigns across the English regions in order to exert pressure on local decision makers and deliver impact for students on a regional level.
NUS should explore the creation of a National Organising Council (NOC), to empower more localised organising and connect with the grassroots of the student movement, this should consider but should not be limited to:
- Regionally elected NUS Reps
- Regionally elected NUS Liberation Reps
- Opportunities to involve local SU’s
- Opportunities to engage the grassroots student movement
If it would be appropriate to have an NOC for each constituent nation of NUS, to allow for proper consideration of the needs/position of each Nation.
NUS should explore the creation of NUS England within it’s democratic structures, to recognise the devolution of education policy across the UK and give students in England a space for England-only issues, this should consider but should not be limited to:
- The creation of an NUS England Officer
- The creation of an NUS England Conference
- The need for an NUS UK President following the creation of NUS England
NUS should explore the implementation of ‘One Student One Vote’ within it’s democratic structures, to empower every student of an NUS affiliated SU across the UK to have a voice, this could consider but should not be limited to:
- How this would be delivered in practice
- How this would interact with SU voting
- How best to maximise student participation
- How this could be delivered in an equitable fashion that would not disenfranchise small institutions
- The votes that would take place under a ‘One Student One Vote’ format
NUS should consult with SUs on the cost of conferences, this could consider but should not be limited to:
- The levels to which conference is subsidised by SU affiliation fees.
- The hidden costs of conferences for SU’s such as delegate meals and accommodation.
- The impact of the location of conferences on travel costs.