Some motions that will restore your faith in the NUS

This week’s national conference might actually bring some change

From Tuesday until Thursday next week representatives from students’ unions across the country will come to the southern seaside town of Brighton for the annual National Union of Students (NUS) conference.

The aim of the national conference is to elect members for NUS committees and offices as well as to debate and pass motions on a whole host of issues judged to be relevant for the U.K’s student population.

Delegates will vote on motions at the Conference

Delegates will vote on motions at the Conference

The NUS has a reputation for being irrelevant, unrepresentative and even damaging and the last few months, such as the refusal to condemn ISIS by NUS Presidential hopeful Malia Bouattia and the replacement of clapping with ‘Jazz hands’ at NUS conferences have only served to bolster this view.

However is this an accurate portrayal of our Union Body? Does the NUS conference actually lead to the adoption of good, sensible policies that aim to improve the lives of all the student community?

Here is a list of some of the motions to be discussed next week that show that the NUS still has the ability to address the concerns of the whole national student community.

Motion 217- Bringing teaching and learning into the 21st century through online lecture capture

What does it want to do? The motion aims to support Unions and lobby institutions for the adoption of Lecture Capture- recording and uploading lectures- nationwide.

Lecture Capture also has a general educative benefit. Recording lectures would prove a useful study aid for the purposes of revision as well as to catch up on missed parts of the syllabus.

At present there is a great distortion in access to Lecture Capture with some students having access to it and others not- the NUS does not have a policy on it and it’s up to the individual lecturer/institution whether they want to use it or not. Aside from a question of general fairness, this has a greater negative impact on some non-English speaking students and students with access difficulties who are placed at a greater disadvantage if their lectures are not recorded.

Motion 223- UCAS ‘name-blind admissions’- and beyond

What does it want to do? Calls for the NUS to push for the adoption of nameless applications for higher education institutions in the U.K.

Although the motion acknowledges that the effect of unconscious bias is not fully known- it uses research that suggests that applicants with non-white sounding names suffer from negative bias at application stages. By passing this motion which lobbies for the adoption of nameless applications is one way in which the NUS can make access to education fair.

Motion 405- Prioritise Mental Health Now!

What does it want to do? The motion wants the NUS to put more resources, time and effort into campaigning, raising awareness and supporting students who suffer from mental illness.

mental health

There are many negative effects that poor mental health can have both on the individual and on society. Proportionally the student population has one of the highest rates of mental illness with mental health services at Universities becoming increasingly unable to cope with the demand. This motion aims to address this nationwide with the NUS helping to remove negative stigma attached to mental illness, opposing cuts to mental health services as well as raising awareness of a growing mental health problem with young people.

Motion 605- A full time paid NUS Trans Officer and an autonomous NUS trans liberation campaign

What does it want to do? The motion calls for the creation of a NUS Trans Officer and Campaign that can effectively represent and push the interests of the transexual student community alongside the other Liberation Officers and Campaigns.

The growing acceptance of the transexual community within the U.K. has been a defining feature over the last few years. However, the interests and needs of transexual students do not necessarily correspond to those of the LGBT+ movement as a whole. A separate campaign and officer enables the full representation for the transexual student community.

Motion 607- We are the National Union of Students Not the National Union of Sabbs

What does it want to do? To strengthen the democratic process within the NUS by exploring ways and means that help to amplify the voices of ordinary students

By refusing to condemn ISIS, Malia Bouattia has made the NUS seem out of touch

By refusing to condemn ISIS, Malia Bouattia has made the NUS seem out of touch

Student attitudes towards the NUS and Student Unions is one of antipathy for not actively representing their interests and instead focusing on matters considered irrelevant and unrepresentative. This motion is an acknowledgement by some within the NUS that things need to change- this is possibly the first step towards making student representatives more accountable to the student community.

You can check the full list of motions that will be discussed at next week’s NUS national conference here.