ULU’s days are over
University of London bigwigs met this morning to decide ULU’s fate. It wasn’t pretty.
The votes are in and ULU is no more!
University of London bosses met this morning to discuss plans to reform Europe’s largest students’ union.
In a move that will cause outrage among wannabe-politicians nationwide, the bigwigs have voted to scrap ULU, ditching the Union’s elected student officers and political campaigning.
But it’s not all bad news. ULU’s seven-floor central London building will be refurbished and taken into University of London hands.
The same social facilities offered by ULU will instead be offered by the University, with plans to improve the Union’s swimming pool, fitness centre and bars.
ULU barons are unsurprisingly up in arms. President Michael Chessum, elected with 1,345 of a possible 120,000 votes in 2012’s election, said: “This decision is totally illegitimate and will have a majorly negative impact on student life and representation in London.
“No student sat on the review panel, no student got a vote on the decision, and student responses have been ignored or brushed aside throughout.
“It’s not that we won’t go down without a fight – we simply won’t go down.”
The move for reform comes after an eight-month review of services offered by ULU.
University of London deputy vice-chancellor, Prof Paul Webley led the review. He said many of ULU’s functions were now pointless because colleges now had their own successful unions.
Prof Welby said: “It made sense in the 1950s when ULU was created because the largest college only had a few thousand students and most had under 500 students.
“But several individual institutions now had more students than the entire student population at the University of London back in 1955 – around 24,000.
“This is not about switching money away from students, rather it is addressing the federal structure that duplicates a lot of services already provided by student unions.”
Students have been apathetic towards ULU elections in recent years. Fewer than 2% of those eligible to vote did so in 2012. UCL students managed a heady 3.23% turnout.
By contrast, students’ union elections at constituent colleges of the University of London normally have a turnout of 15–25%.
The news has been met with mixed reaction. Louise Townson, a UCL PhD student said: “Chessum says that ‘Universities and colleges need vibrant, democratic organisation’ but I see nothing democratic about a system that fails to engage more than 2% of voters but still continues to take money meant for representing the 100%.”
However, Hamish Yewdall sees this one as up there with the rise of UKIP and the deficit.
As some one that stole ideas from ulu campaigns and was supported by its staff, i think the impact of its closure will be felt nationally
— Hamish Yewdall (@HamishYewdall) May 3, 2013