The NUS: £50k Costs and Increased Drink Prices…FANTASTIC

The Tab looks at an organisation that in recent years has been accused as an ineffective, autocratic, self-focused, labour leaning, cheap booze axing union that has done little to benefit students.

Last month Union Council passed a motion, set in place by Billy FitzJohn (Union President), to hold a referendum over the possibility of SUSU spending an extra £50,000 a year to re-join the National Union of Students (NUS). That time is now upon us.

We have taken a look at an organisation which in recent years has been accused as an ineffective, autocratic, self-focused, labour leaning, cheap booze axing union that has done little to benefit students despite its costly membership.

A waste of £50k?

The argument that re-joining the NUS would allow Southampton University to have a voice within the largest student union within the UK, although correct in theory, is far from the true case. At the annual conference, representatives from member universities vote on predetermined agendas selected by the unelected, predominately Labour supporting, want to be politicians, that are the true making of the NUS.

Despite this left leaning leadership, it failed repeatedly to strike a chord with the previous Labour government. A few points from its catalogue of failures under Labour include;

  • Failing in 1997 to prevent Labour introducing tuition fees
  • Failing in 2004 to prevent Labour from increasing fees to current levels
  • Failing in 2009 to gain an invitation to represent students at the fees review, which ultimately became the Browne Report

To add insult from an already inept organisation, the NUS recently passed a motion to abolish student drink prices. It has demanded a new minimum price to be set on alcohol by SU’s. This could spell the end of a quick pint in The Stags, after a long day in lectures, or a night at The Cube.

At a time when we are all feeling the pinch of the credit crunch, why won’t this organisation allow students to find the small amount of solace one can have over a drink?

The NUS sparked even more controversy earlier this year after attacking a proposed Multiculturalism debate at Durham University. After learning that two members of the BNP had been invited to the debate, leading members of the NUS sent a letter demanding its cancellation or for the event to face potentially ‘violent’ protests, organised by itself and the UAF (Unite Against Fascism).

The decision to cancel the event on grounds of safety of course did not sit well with students who were looking forward to a peaceful debate and unsurprisingly, after holding a referendum, Durham chose to disaffiliate itself from the NUS.

Another key ‘benefit’ that the NUS claims to offer, is access to its ‘exclusive’ discounts at over 70 brands. However, to get the ‘NUS Extra’ card, students must first fork out the £11 charged for it. In comparison, Southampton and Solent University’s FREE ‘GiftEd’ card scheme is accepted at over 2000 stores, providing discount and cash back for the user and their University.

As mentioned, the referendum would be to consider re-joining the NUS, as in 2002 SUSU voted to disaffiliate. Then Union President, Stephen Edwards, stated at the time, “Disaffiliating from the NUS gives us £69,000 (membership has since been capped to £50,000) more to spend on training, clubs and societies and our own campaigns. This way we avoid wasting money with pointless conferences, and NUS bureaucracy.”

Therefore the question must be raised, that at a time when all University spending is under review, with many clubs and societies feeling the full force of spending cuts, how can SUSU afford to pay for it and will the ‘benefits’ of joining the NUS out way the costs and its obvious drawbacks.

Vote NO to the NUS at