When can we flush the NUS out of Stirling’s system?
Why Stirling students need to have a referendum on being in the NUS
A guest post from Aōdhan Byrne and Conn O’Neill about Stirling’s membership of the National Union of Students.
To be or not to be members of the NUS, that is the question that must be put to the vote.
Stirling University students have not had the opportunity to answer this important question since 1998, a time when most of us were yet to master joined-up handwriting. The President at the time was so pleased with the decisive NUS victory that he still hasn’t left.
Students have no idea who the National Union of Students are and so whilst we advocate a vote for disaffiliation, the most important thing is that we have the chance to vote at all. Since the last vote at Stirling, enough time has passed for two generations of teen mothers. Most universities will vote every 4-5 years.
The NUS has some honourable objectives but what must be considered is whether they deliver on their promises and offer value for money to Stirling University Students’ Union.
£26,000 a year in affiliation fees and associated costs but are we getting value for money? (The 13/14 affiliation fee is £20,436.80, minus the abatement of £1,276. The net fee is £19,160.80; and there’s a total cost of booked expenditure in calendar year 2013 was £5,896,69.)
What do we get in exchange for our money? We can send our elected officers to go and join in with extreme frivolity at NUS conferences. The delegates we send to these conferences have in recent years been elected on a turnout hovering around 3% – students simply do not care.
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 much on biscuits with the nobodies in Westminster and Holyrood.
As a Union affiliated to the NUS we are able (and do) subscribe to NUS Services Limited (NUSSL) though this is at an additional cost. NUSSL is the most authoritarian purchasing consortium known to man – ever wonder why you don’t see Stella Artois in Studio?
Scottish Unions not affiliated to NUS, and even some that are, have grown exhausted with the dictatorialism from NUSSL have banded together to create an alternative. Northern Services Ltd is successfully delivering drinks cheaper than NUSSL to Dundee, St Andrews and Glasgow Unions amongst others.
As members of the NUS, we can sell students an NUS Extra card for £10. Few students find any need for this card to secure a student discount that they could not otherwise receive with their university-issued student card – and less than 4% of Stirling’s students have actually forked out for the NUS Extra card in the last two academic years (410 this year, 414 last year). The Union takes a cut of this £10 whilst the rest lines the pockets of NUS fat cats.
NUS are an ineffective organisation who are desperate to appease their political factions. Stirling is better off without the costs of affiliation to a pointless political platform.
President-elect Amy McDermott promised in the Politics Society gameshow event that she would hold an NUS referendum in her year in office. The referendum ought to be held before Christmas 2014 because we’d rather not see the Yes and No camps spending 4 years firing shots from their trenches.