SUSU Announce Date For Forthcoming NUS Referendum


To NUS or not to NUS: that is quite literally the question that will asked of the University Of Southampton’s student body in the upcoming autumn term.

After a motion on SUSU’s affiliation with the National Union of Students was put forward at this year’s Annual General Meeting – by Sam Ling, SUSU president – a referendum has been on the cards since May.  And last Wednesday, the Elections Committee announced that the vote will take place on Thursday 6th December. Referendum 2012 is coming.

This comes after a failed vote in 2010, which saw the student body reject the move by 2 votes to 1. However, it was asserted by Ling that “the landscape of higher education has changed, as has the structure of both SUSU and the NUS”, so it was valid to raise the question again. Furthermore, he stated it would be ‘fair and democratic to ask the question to all students’ rather than a motion passed without student consent.

Referendum 2010 Symbol

It is believed that the Union will try and create a more educated and informed campaign and discussion on the issue after the ‘botched’ attempt of 2010. This includes the creation of a independent trustee board sub-group which will evaluate the impact of the move; as well as a election committee working group created to help run and organised the forthcoming event.

Every student at the University will get a chance to vote whether they think SUSU should or should not join the NUS. Campaigning will also be actively encouraged with the SUSU website setting up a hub, where people can state their position on one side or the other, in the near future.

NUS is a student organisation is confederation of 600 students’ union, representing 95% of higher and further education students – more than seven million in total – throughout the UK.

NUS is a student-led confederation of 600 students’ union, representing 95% of higher and further education students – more than seven million in total –  throughout the UK. SUSU, who left the body in 2002 through a AGM motion, is a sparse company joined by only 7 other ‘outsider’ University unions, including St. Andrews, Glasgow and Imperial College.

The issue is bound to cause much debate within the student community of the University, with many of the Sabbatical team also having strong opinions on the proposed affiliation. A further debate has emerged as to how and the extent to which the Sabbs should be allowed to campaign considering their elected positions, especially considering many did not include it in their election manifestos.

The Scene will be following the Referendum and the surrounding debate closely as the December 6th gets closer, so watch this space.

For more details, check out David Gilani’s – Vice-President of Communications – SUSU Blog here.

This article was edited on the 28th August, after it was revealed Durham University is now affiliated with NUS.


Discussion15 Comments

  1. avatar

    We’ve done this at least twice in the past five years…


    There has only been 1 referendum on this in the last 5 years. Before that the decision to leave was taken at an AGM (around 2001/02).

  2. avatar
    Voting NO to NUS

    I really hope the Wessex Scene provide a BALANCED, and not mention an up-to-date, coverage of this referendum. It would be a shame if all we read is undemocratic NUS propaganda spoon fed to editors by the Sabbs.

    Luke Goodger

    You clearly do not read many of our articles as we have total editorial freedom!

    Voting NO to NUS

    Well you say that, I don’t think I’ve ever read a piece on the Scene holding SUSU to account.

  3. avatar

    Just a note on accuracy. Durham are affiliated, and the number of non-affiliates in HE I believe is less than 8, who are the others in your list? There is another who read dilated last year as well.


    *disafiliate, not sure where the word dilated came from!

    Alexander James Green

    Hi. Thanks for the update on Durham; you are correct, so I have amended the article. Apart from the ones listed, I believe Aston, UWIC, Dundee and Sunderland complete the 7 (no longer 8 as Durham is now affiliated)


    Sunderland have recently reaffiliated.

  4. avatar

    Yawn. Same tired old recycled issues from SUSU – No wonder people get fed up with union politics. Forcing students to join such an overtly political organisation is absurd.

    4p off a pint in return for having whatever toss-pot is currently in charge think he’s speaking on my behalf? No thanks.

    David Gilani

    Hey Richard,

    It might seem like an issue that SUSU dealt with recently, but 2 years is a long time at University. The majority of students who were here for that referendum have left.

    More importantly, students have voted for this referendum to happen (as it was passed at our most recent Annual General Meeting – where any student can vote)… and once again all students will be able to vote for whether we affiliate or not – SUSU is not forcing students to join.

    Blue Suede shoes

    Hi David

    This is idea that you HAVE to hold a referendum because it has been nearly two years since the last one is tired and lazy.

    SUSU disaffiliated in 2002 and has held one referendum in the last 10 years. I’m not aware of a groundswell of opinion amongst the 10 years of graduates that have passed through Southampton in that time that their student experience was somehow worse than say Portsmouth’s or Bournemouth’s who are affiliates.

    This notion that the 2012/2013 crop of students NEED to have a referendum because they haven’t had their say has no evidence other than a spurious insistence on behalf of the Union to provide a fig leaf to conduct a referendum so soon after the last one.

    Please do not use the it’s time to have another referendum, it’s YOUR choice argument, it insults my intelligence. Rather tell me what has changed within the NUS that means we should revisit the decision now.

    David Gilani

    Thanks for responding,

    Apologies if I mis-worded my argument. The fact that it’s been two years isn’t necessarily an argument to hold a referendum, but it is, in my mind, a fair response to people who say we’ve already covered this topic. 15% of students voted in 2010. Out of those 15%, roughly 66% of the student population have left… so only 5% who voted then are still here… it’s not fair to say “been there, done that”, because 95% of Southampton students haven’t.

    But, I agree with you. I don’t think that there is an intrinsic need for every student to have a say on this issue, but that’s not the point. At this year’s AGM, students voted to say that they wanted a referendum, and I am an elected representative – so am giving students that.

    For the reason of remaining impartial, I would rather not go into how the NUS has changed, myself – I’m sure others can be more explicit about it. Personally, I see benefit in having something political and tangible that students can get involved with. It helps to promote a culture of decision making, which might help students realise their interest in other issues like elections or policy making at SUSU.

  5. avatar

    “a more educated and informed campaign”? Isn’t this what they said in Ireland when they kept holding referenda until the politicians got the answer they wanted from the electorate?

    I’m deeply suspicious of this given the NUS hasn’t changed, and neither has the HE landscape (hey, fees were introduced in 1998…). What has changed are the sabbaticals and the staff in the Union. I’m sure the NUS loving General Manager will find enough ‘facts’ to educate us all, because none of us can remember 2 years ago…

    David Gilani

    We can’t go on together… with this mindset.

    To be frank, thinking that Sabbaticals or staff can ‘push’ us into the NUS is an insult to all the students at the AGM that voted to have the referendum… and it’s an insult to myself, Dean and the other impartial students who have been working to organise this referendum, keep it impartial and inform students.

    A more educated and informed campaign means: giving campaign teams a chance to speak with external auditors and base their arguments on facts… it means more chances for debate across different student audiences… and a longer “period of campaigning” which doesn’t force people to stick with their decision, but adapt their position based on the more that they learn.

    Also, remember the clause in the policy which stated that if we do vote yes, we will hold another Referendum within 3 years. This is not a trick to find the right answer… it’s a democratic process.

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