With the referendem on our doorstep, it’s time to get your final nuggets of information before you explode with knowledge that may or may not effect you in any or very few ways; can you see my impartiality showing? (If you’ve seen the new RAG calendar then chances are you have) Either way here are two accounts from international students, voting for either side. Read both arguments to help you have an informed and personal answer to the question: Should the University of Southampton re-affiliate with the NUS?
The reason I have chosen to oppose NUS is because I believe it will not benefit the university experience of UK or international students.
International students do not need NUS. NUS will not provide any meaningful support for international students and it is an undemocratic, politically biased institution run by wannabe politicians. Even more importantly, NUS affiliation fee is just a bad value for our money.
Many international students think that NUS will provide help and support in case of a student visa crisis such as the one recently experienced by London Metropolitan University. Southampton University is a highly regarded Russell Group institution; it is unimaginable that its visa status will be changed. In an extremely unlikely case of any problems, Southampton University’s international students will be most effectively represented by the University’s administration and its own students’ union. A vice-chancellor of a leading university will have a lot more power and access to government than the NUS.
The NUS is a political organisation for members of the Labour Party and is not a true representation of all students. Why would international students want to give their money and support to an organisation that is more concerned with its own political agenda than needs of Southampton’s students? A quick glance at the list of past NUS presidents reveals the organisation’s deeply-rooted political allegiance. International students in Southampton want an effective students’ union to improve their university experience rather than a platform for jump-starting careers of future Labour politicians.
High tuition fees and cost of living make studying in Southampton a rather expensive decision for most international students. This is why international students are even more concerned about receiving a good value for their money. The annual NUS affiliation fee is definitely not the best way of spending £50,000 of SUSU budget. Only a handful of people in SUSU establishment will be involved in the NUS while most students in Southampton are members of various clubs and societies. The societies budget currently stands at £85,000; extra £50,000 would definitely go a long way to improve university experience for all students. It’s also important to note that SUSU’s current financial performance is not guaranteed and it might be advisable to save this money to safeguard student clubs and societies in future years.
International students will not benefit from joining NUS. The University’s administration and SUSU will be a lot more effective in an extremely unlikely case of any visa problems. In the meantime, £50,000 affiliation fee could be spend on making our campus a better place for all students rather than advancing political careers of a selected few.
The reason I have chosen to support NUS is because I believe that circumstances for international students have changed in recent years.
Firstly, most international students are aware of the recent loss of the post study work visa, which has been a move by the UK immigration authorities that makes it increasingly hard for international students to come and study in the UK. The students who have already started their course and paid their tuition fee, are ones who are most affected by this decision. NUS is calling for urgent clarification on whether current students, who entered the UK with a legitimate expectation that they would be able to take the post-study work route will still be able to take this up.
Secondly, you might have heard of the issue with London Metropolitan University. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) revoked London Met’s “highly trusted” sponsor status and over 2600 international students were forced to discontinue their studies at the university and face deportation unless they found a place at any other university at a difficult time of the academic year when most universities were full.
Both these issues have important consequences for international students at SU’s around the country, and this is where NUS can help. NUS now has a full time international officer and an international committee for supporting and campaigning on issues like those above which affect international students. Essentially, what they are able to do which an individual union is not, is provide coordinated pressure on the UK government, and therefore have a strong impact on legislation. NUS dedicates many of its campaigns and policy debates to issues that affect international students and provides extensive support to them.
Looking at the specific issue of London Met international students, NUS started an extensive campaign along with London Met’s Union and other student unions that are NUS members and held many protests in London. After NUS campaigned on this issue along with the university authorities and students, the university won the right for a judicial review of the situation and international students have now been allowed to continue their studies whilst legal proceedings continue.
I could go on, but I think these issues speak for themselves. It is important to remember that 1 in 5 students at the University of Southampton are international students and it is my opinion that the support that NUS has offered international students over work and study visas and the kinds of support for international students available through affiliation provide enough evidence to show that affiliating with NUS is the right choice for international students and NOW is the right time for SUSU!
The Referendum will be taking place tomorrow; Thursday 6th December.