Written by the Yes2NUS Team
The NUS…a faceless organisation trying to rob us of independence, or a national movement of unity? A mere price tag, or an unrivalled list of services and support? Is your vision clear, or are there myths and contradictions getting in the way of TRULY knowing what the NUS is really about?
One of the most important reasons we should join NUS is to have the chance to shape the national student movement. Students from all political persuasions come together alongside those who have no interest in politics in order to campaign on the issues that really affect them. Have you brought affordable insurance from Endsleigh, paid no council tax, or had your house deposit safely tucked away in a tenancy deposit scheme? All of these things were possible thanks to the NUS, and wouldn’t be achievable by a single, lone Union.
The NUS are dealing with a lot of issues that could directly impact you, such as employability. At Southampton we have the Graduate Passport scheme, a way of accrediting extracurricular activities, but the NUS has developed the Student Skills Award, which is recognised by employers nationally.
By staying out of the NUS we risk being left behind, stuck with a local scheme recognised by the few, while students from over 95% of UK universities will have the opportunity to engage in something much bigger, and better, for their job prospects.
The NUS provides expert training for Union staff, Sabbs and volunteers aimed at each specific area, unlike the more general training they currently get – meaning that however much or little you engage with SUSU, your experience will inevitably be better.
There is also specialised training for a variety of areas, such as political activists, empowering female leadership, and opportunities for budding entrepeneurs to attend a day’s workshop and bid for seed funding from a pot of £120,000 – something that SUSU couldn’t dream of doing!
NUS also have a broad range of liberation campaigns, from BME to LGBT, and students with disabilities to women’s rights, all of which seek to remove the barriers that unjustly hold people back. Not only do these campaigns fight for students’ rights, they also work with local unions on how to best make improvements for their members – advice and support from experts that we at Southampton are currently not getting.
Similarly, the Green Impact accreditation scheme is a nationally recognised model which allows much more effective monitoring of the environmental impact of the Union. It has fast become a national standard; one which we currently have no access to.
The benefits of a national voice are also evident through the range of international campaigns NUS run, which have gone from strength to strength in the last two years. Last year saw the first ever NUS International Officer, with this year already seeing huge victories such as the students of London Met’s year reprieve from deportation, and stopping international students being forced to queue for 12-18 hours to register their arrival in the country – if this had happened in Southampton, we wouldn’t have had the same support.
So how much is too much for our students’ liberation, or national representation? How much for our students’ employability, or expert training for volunteers? SUSU spent over £6.8m last year. From that perspective, £51,500 (the maximum cost to affiliate; it could be as low as £32k depending on whether we join NUSSL and NUS Extra Card sales) is not much. We spend comparable figures on activities such as joining BUCS for roughly a quarter of our sports teams, and recently spent £400,000 and £250,000 on the Bridge and Level 4 respectively.
We’re not a poor Union, and with so much to be gained by so many, we can’t afford not to join. If we really want to unlock the true potential of SUSU and go from being a great but isolated Union to becoming a truly fantastic AND engaged Union, all we have to do is say yes to NUS on December, 6.