Oxford, Britain’s oldest university, quits the NUS
Will your uni be next?
Oxford university has stuck two fingers up at the NUS and voted to leave the unpopular union.
A total of 1780 students from Britain’s oldest and most famous university waved goodbye to their discount cards and pointless hashtag campaigns.
Only 15% of the student population voted after a referendum was called in April.
Despite the poor turnout, the no campaign won by a slender margin of 128 votes.
And while her union lost the oldest educational establishment in the land, President Toni Pearce (who never went to uni) was tweeting about competition prizes.
Answer our 5 min survey on mobiles for the chance to win £250 cash! http://t.co/LhD2gyVHrr
— NUS UK (@nusuk) May 21, 2014
The Tab’s political philosopher-in-chief, Grace Vielma said: “This shocking move leaves Oxford at risk of total anarchy. Without the moral guidance and security of the union executive, life in Oxford could come to resemble Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature, where conflict is perpetual and life is ‘nasty, brutish and short’.
“On the other hand, Oxford managed without the NUS for 892 years and I don’t think I’ve ever actually met someone who carries an NUS extra card.”
Jack Matthews, NUS officer and leader of the No campaign, was pleased with the result.
He said: “We’ve sent a really strong message to the NUS this week that there is the need for some real change in the NUS, and I really do hope they listen to us, deliver that change, speak to us, and hopefully one day we will have an NUS that Oxford will be more than happy to join once again.”
OUSU President Tom Rutland, who lead the Yes campaign, bemoaned the result.
He said: “I’m obviously very disappointed with the result, and concerned about the impact it will have on OUSU and Oxford students.
“My time at OUSU has shown me that NUS membership is a real lifeline both for our elected officers and our student body. Students are stronger when they work together – be it at a common room, university or national level – so I hope that OUSU will reaffiliate to NUS in the near future.”
In a show of brash arrogance, the NUS said it hopes Oxford would re-affiliate in the future – despite being told where to go.
A statement said: “NUS respects the decision taken this week in the referendum. We would of course welcome the union back should it wish to re-affiliate in the future and look forward to making the case for the considerable savings membership brings to students.
“Over 600 students’ unions across the UK enjoy the benefits of being affiliated to NUS. Collectively, students through their students’ unions invest in a movement which campaigns to defend, extend and promote the rights of students on the national stage, and which saves students money by providing hundreds of discounts through the ever popular NUS extra card.
“NUS provides help and support to individual students’ unions which enables them to undertake their own work by supplying expert research, training, advice and information, and through supporting under-represented student groups to get their voices heard.”
The NUS has been criticised for not representing students – 35% have no idea what it does and 23% of students said they were bloody useless.
New wave of fury that a 15% voter turnout has stripped Oxford of its NUS participation. That is NOT democracy in operation
— Rosalind Brody (@RHSB_) May 22, 2014
And it has been unpopular for a while because some students are confused as to what it actually does, apart from campaign for uni bars to charge more for pints.
Writing in The Tab, Conn O’Neill said: “NUS make grandiose claims about having saved this from cuts or won that for students but it amounts to nothing – their national officers are invited to sip tea and munch on biscuits with the nobodies in Westminster and Holyrood. ”
There have been brief moments of excitement recently – last year delegates cheered the death of Margaret Thatcher, and in April we reported how delegates joined a six-man romp the night before the conference.
But most of its “controversy” has been incredibly dull. The most contentious decisions taken by the union were to consider cancelling its McDonald’s discount deal and to oppose UKIP.
Oxford students will now have to formulate their own policies on these big decisions.