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NUS - Yes, there is a point

Oct 27 2006 13:53
Camilla Royle
Camilla Royle defends the NUS against claims of being the "loony left".
Camilla Royle and a monkey

We?re the ninth best university in the world, if you?ve just started your first year congratulations; you probably know your quarks from your gluons and can identify any of the mould species growing in your kitchen cupboard. But how much do you know about running a welfare campaign, dealing with housing and finance issues and finding decent graduate jobs? If these services could be provided for you wouldn?t you want them? This is why we need the NUS.

You might have heard that the NUS is a "loony left" organisation populated entirely by Marxists who want to steal your money and give it to the CND and Stop the War Coalition. In fact these radical campaign ideas are given a very low priority within the organisation although, of course, they are more likely to attract the attention of the media. NUS mostly concerns itself with less glamorous tasks such as securing council tax exemption and providing financial advice for students. Maybe this is why we don?t pay our taxes but the war on terror rages on.

Having said that, the NUS is involved in one high profile campaign this year, the Admission Impossible campaign against top up fees; in doing this it is uniting students across the country in a movement towards fair access, getting young people into universities based on their brains and not their bank accounts. This campaign affects not only today?s first year students but will have repercussions in the years to come but it won?t stand any chance of success unless it is as wide as possible. If Imperial College Union joins the NUS we can use our ideas and enthusiasm to help drive this campaign which will ultimately aim to benefit us as students. Who wants to be remembered as a college full of posh kids that didn?t care about fees?

If we do join you will also be given a standard ?Democracy card? for free confirming your identity as a student so that you can continue to pay student prices at cinemas, nightclubs and other attractions across Britain. There is also an optional ?Extra? discount card similar to the associate card you might have had in the sixth form which includes an integrated ISIC travel card that usually costs £7 and allows access to dozens of exciting offers.

Joining will cost us money but remember that we are saving money this year by pulling out of University of London Union. It is this money that will be spent on the NUS and not the clubs and societies budget. The NUS can give us valuable advice on how to run our union?s clubs and welfare campaigns best on the experiences of the other members and their own expertise. This would surely leave us better off in the long term than if we wasted time and money trying to reinvent the wheel by working it all out ourselves. We will avoid becoming one of the most isolated unions in the country and if the proverbial excrement hits the fan and everything goes wrong for our union we will at least have the support we need to sort it out.

At the end of the day the union is not just a building in Beit quad or a small group of elected officers, it?s every single student at Imperial and every student here should make a sensible choice about the direction it goes in. That?s why we called a referendum instead of just deciding it in a council meeting. The start of the referendum is rapidly approaching so make sure you have your say, get out and vote.

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Discussion about “NUS - Yes, there is a point”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. ha ha   
Oct 27 2006 14:03

I think student respect is about as loony left as they come. Take this one with a big pinch of salt.

2. Seb   
Oct 27 2006 14:27

"If Imperial College Union joins the NUS we can use our ideas and enthusiasm to help drive this campaign which will ultimately aim to benefit us as students. Who wants to be remembered as a college full of posh kids that didn?t care about fees?"

Oh here we go again. Imperial ran a high profile anti-fees campaign. We even kicked the ball rolling to a degree, with the infamous "Paper M" with the £15,000 fee proposal ending up all over the rest of the media, and the accompanying protest getting high profile publicity. The associated material we produced ended up in other universities.

The idea that the choice is between being affiliated with the NUS or being pro fees is downright dishonest.

Then there is this idea we need to outsource training and activities to the NUS professional.

The fact is the reason IC has such a strong set of clubs, societies and even (for the most part) pretty competent Hacks is because we generate knowledge and skills in house and pass them on.

Do first years have a good idea how to run a welfare campaign? Has the average UG student at IC lost so much confidence in their own initiative?

Oct 27 2006 15:38

from what i've seen, the majority of what the NUS offers to the average student is worthless since we either do it better ourselves (as Seb says, club officer training is a good example) or, as with representation, our voice would be drowned out by everyone else.

The real benefits to be dervied from the NUS lie elsewhere: I am aware that our president this year has already received a lot of advice and support from the NUS backroom people for free (although it would have cost a fortune to find elsewhere). It does have to be said as well that it can be useful if you can get advice from people who aren't in College, especially when you are fighting with College.

is this worth the hassle and the money of being part of the NUS? It depends on how much the Sabbs will use it.

Oct 28 2006 03:05

We will still be paying ULU for the next 5 years so no we will not be saving money this year

5. Seb   
Oct 30 2006 14:41

"I am aware that our president this year has already received a lot of advice and support from the NUS backroom people for free"

And without being a member too. If this is the primary reason for joining the NUS, then it would actualy be rather expensive at around £50k.

Oct 31 2006 12:02

The top up fees SHOULD be higher, posh or not.

7. Seb   
Oct 31 2006 13:23

I'm rather of the oppinion that there shouldn't be any top up fees at all, and that the government shouldn't be spending more money on training people to do media studies than it spends training people to do Physics.

8. jgf   
Oct 31 2006 13:56


9. Seb   
Oct 31 2006 15:27

Because there is stacks of research that seems to indicate that many degrees of that nature conger no earning benefit to the student (and in fact have a negative impact when debt and being set back three years on workplace experience and associated pay increases are taken into account), and no quantifiable benefit to society or the economy.

The graduate market is saturated, with IIRC something like 50% of graduates not being employed in what are traditionaly termed "graduate jobs". Indeed the government statistics quoting a 400,000 pound premium on graduates refers to a study done in the 80's when participation was much lower (but also much fairer).

I suspect part of the reason for advocating 50% attendance is to massage employment figures.

There will be better cited stuff in old live discussions on these subjects.

10. n/a   
Nov 02 2006 10:24

Let's see... NUS a Labour polit-training organisation? Probably... Take, for example, James Knight, former NUS Wales president. Currently preparing to stand for the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff in an attempt to oust the (anti-tuition fees) LibDems...

Take his views on plagiarism, as NUS president...

"Plagiarism is totally unacceptable but in some cases understandable. What really needs to be done is to see that, aside from funding students properly, there is a need to make sure all assessments are far more flexible in their nature, so they can be tailored more to individual students."

(This was a response to research in 2005 that suggested one single essay was sold many times on the internet to different students who handed it in as their own, from BBC news online)

So, the noble NUS, defender of the poor, oh-so overworked students who buy their degrees by handing in other people's paifd for essays, Labour trainee camp and breeder of pro-fees politicians...

Err... why would anyone want to be a part of this organisation?

11. Edmund   
Nov 02 2006 16:38

"If we do join you will also be given a standard ?Democracy card? for free confirming your identity as a student..."

Wow, because if I have a 'democracy card' I must be part of a transparent, bipartisan institution, right? /sarcasm

The Imperial card is plenty enough to prove you're a student. I've had no problems at all so far. If companies don't take it, ring up their HQ and explain. Very few places are NUS-only: we're students regardless of whether we're in the NUS or not.

Jun 05 2008 09:25

Camilla, you are on the loony left.

Jun 06 2008 06:51

Well done #12, you just said the political equivalent of "No, your mum's fat!"

I despair.

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