Leaving the NUS achieves nothing

We have more influence in


Leaving the NUS achieves nothing, we’d be cutting off our nose to spite our face. It sets us back by £18,000, cuts students off from support and leaves us in a position where we can’t achieve reform.

The NUS is flawed, no one denies this, it works on a system similar to how we elect the government. Each university (constituency) elects delegates (MPs) to represent them at a conference (parliament) to vote on policy. Whilst I disagree that this is undemocratic, we all got a vote on our delegates, how many people actually used it? There is a superior alternative, OMOV (one member, one vote).

Ben Leatham, YUSU President, tabled a motion to implement OMOV at NUS national conference this year, it got rejected over worries that it would result in further education institutions being marginalised and Russell group uni’s dominating the organisation. While this was a setback York must continue to lead on getting OMOV implanted, and we cannot do this from outside the NUS.

The No campaign claim that if a large group of co-ordinated universities disaffiliated then the NUS would be forced to change. Unfortunately, this has not materialised, in the last week Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick and Exeter have all voted to remain part of the NUS. York cannot stand alone and succeed, if the NUS is worried that OMOV would lead to Russell group domination, do you really think it will let itself be dictated to by just York?

If we really want to reform the NUS, then we must work from the inside. The NUS is currently undergoing an independent democratic review, and that will involve discussion of OMOV. York has been given the opportunity to lead the way on OMOV by the NUS, if we step away now then we can only blame ourselves if OMOV does not get implemented. We must seize this opportunity to campaign for reform as a collective group of universities inside the NUS. If we vote to disaffiliate, then this reform will just be six votes further away.

This is why leaving the NUS will achieve nothing constructive; it won’t bring about the reforms we need and it means we don’t be able to make a positive contribution such as our motion on mental health which got unanimously passed this year. It is simply a two-fingered salute at the NUS.

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The problem is that it is also a two-fingered salute to all of us students at the University of York. According to the independent YUSU financial staff, we would lose £18,000 a year if we disaffiliated. This is money that we are able to spend on university facilities, mental health resources and sports equipment. In addition, we save money on everything sold in union bars and shops, such as Courtyard; not to mention the NUS Extra card which gives you over 200 great discounts. Leaving the NUS would have a detrimental impact on every student at this university.

It is also a kick in the teeth for the liberation networks, and all their members who are most in need of support. As Disabled Students Officer I feel that it is disabled students who would miss out the most if we left, the NUS has done an extraordinary amount for our campaign. As a collective of over seven million students the NUS was able to lobby the government over Disabled Students Allowance cuts, the provision that is the only reason some disabled students are able to attend uni. It wasn’t able to avert these cuts for good, but it did manage to postpone them so universities had the chance to provide somewhat of an alternative cover. This gain would not have been possible if individual student unions were divided.

In addition, the NUS provides training, research and resources so that YUSU officers can do a better job for York students. The NUS Disabled Campaign produced an entire book on mental illness prevention, if we disaffiliated then this is the support that we’d be missing out on.

With more tuition fee rises on the horizon and the recent scrapping of maintenance grants, we need a united collective body of students more than ever. Don’t leave us worse off and isolated on the outside. Please vote #YestotheNUS so that we remain a proactive union, benefitting from membership and pushing for reform.

Written by the York:Yes2NUS Campaign