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NUS - a waste of time, effort and money

Nov 01 2006 13:18
Tom Page
Tom Page, former President of Durham Students' Union and part time MSc student at Imperial, explains why the NUS is a waste of effort.
Tom Page

I thoroughly believe that Imperial should vote in the upcoming referendum to stay out of NUS. Why? I write as someone who has experience of NUS from being President of Durham Students? Union (DSU). I have only just started at Imperial, but I can speak as someone who was very heavily involved in DSU and had precious few good experiences with the National Union.

There are three core problems with NUS. It doesn?t know what it?s for, it has no forum to decide what it should do and it is incapable of acting when it makes policy decisions. Beyond this, there is a fourth issue that is not so much about the theoretical institution, but the people who are involved. It is highly self-serving, and frequently more concerned with its own internal politics than issues facing students across the UK.

I went to three NUS National conferences ? 2003, 2004 and 2005 ? such are the pleasures of student union presidency. There will be those who will say that Imperial needs a national voice and NUS is where it can achieve it. One visit to NUS National Conference (NC) illustrates how false this is.

My first visit to NUS NC was comparatively better than everyone had told me it would be - sure you had rigged elections, voting cards that you could buy from political factions in return for your support, people on the balcony instructing their faction how to vote, stage occupations, endless procedural motions, votes taking longer than an hour, dismal attendance by the NEC (National Executive Committee - NUS?s top officers), but in comparison to what I was promised this seemed like above par for the course.

Go three times and you realise how entrenched these failings are. Political factions dominate NUS. People grouping together because of a shared-goal of opinions is no bad thing, but at NC all that matters to swathes of the delegates is which faction wins each issue, not the issue/election itself.

Because of the power of the factions, and the amount of noise a small group of students can make, NUS is impotent to represent the "average" (I don?t use this term pejoratively) student. Near riots, screams of "Intimidation!" and farcical votes of no confidence will be brought up at the first mention of the Israel/Palestine occupation, but barely anyone will listen during a student housing debate, and the resolution eventually passed will be so very mundane and anodyne you?ll wonder why you even bothered to vote.

This polarisation extends to NUS's campaigns. The only higher-education funding line NUS will even listen to is the total abolition of fees. This is an attractive argument, but go and speak to MPs and it ruins any chance of a debate ? it made discussion almost impossible when at the Higher Education Act 2004 votes Durham was trying to argue that top-up fees weren?t the way to fund education and we should look at other options, but all the NUS hacks could argue was the same inflexible line - it must be totally free with no payment.

In the three years I was involved the NEC were a supercilious, self-interested group. They would turn up at Durham once in a blue moon, although you will no doubt get the chance to meet many of them in the next few weeks - if there's one thing you can be sure they'll turn up for it's a disaffiliation/affiliation referendum. After this initial flurry, Imperial would see very little input from the NEC, yet we?d be paying them tens of thousands of pounds a year.

In fact finances are a major problem in NUS with many (most?) affiliated institutions underpaying leaving NUS with a massive deficit (the truly incompetent spending of money by the NEC also does little to ameliorate this issue). Even the NUS Treasurer 2004/05 (Martin Ings, an uncharacteristically honest and hard working NEC member) would often look despairing as he read out the latest batch of NUS expenditure.

Surely, though, as I?m sure the pro-camp will rightly say, Imperial needs national representation. Especially as the relationship with the University of London draws to a close, it?s vital we can speak up and be counted.

I couldn?t agree more, but NUS isn?t capable of being that forum. We should look at working with comparable institutions; strong independent unions working together, co-ordinating campaigns and lobbying. We're ideally situated to meet regularly with relevant MPs ? at the mass lobbies of Parliament NUS organises the turnout is often embarrassing ? we will be more effective acting without the cumbersome monolith.

The pro-camp will idealistically talk about the voice NUS will offer us, the solidarity we'll develop, the resources for union officers and the benefits for every student. We are only able, however, to join one version of NUS ? the real-world version, and that couldn't be further from the ideals that it should espouse.

NUS has much to gain from Imperial joining, yet we have little to tempt us bar the chance of 10% off at Topshop. Let?s save our cash, our time and the trips to Blackpool, and instead plough that resource into working actively with other unions and improving services right here.

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Discussion about “NUS - a waste of time, effort and money”

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.
Nov 01 2006 14:11
 

I was afraid that the inexperienced No campaign team would be out-hacked in this contest. They must be pleased they have stumbled across this guy. No doubt they would have made those arguements themselves, but they just sound so much better coming from someone who has attended 3 NUS conferences.

2. Ben   
Nov 01 2006 17:47
 

"We're ideally situated to meet regularly with relevant MPs"

But the trouble is, would they want to meet with us? The NUS is recognised as the national voice of students, and MPs are unlikely to listen to somebody representing 12,500 students as opposed to 5 million. This is perfectly represented by the predicament of the Aldwych Group (the student organisation of the Russell Group, of which Imperial is a member): it represents 1/2 million students at the 19 best UK institutions yet the media officer has be told in no uncertain terms by the national media (including THES) that they simply aren't interested in the views of any student organisation bar NUS. Do we really think Imperial would fare any better?

?We should look at working with comparable institutions; strong independent unions?

As has already pointed out, the only comparable institution with an ?independent? union is Southampton. Every other English Union in the Russell Group and the 1994 Group of universities (which represents leading institutions outside the Russell Group) is a member of the NUS.

If we want to make any impact on the national stage then there is simply no alternative to the NUS.

Nov 01 2006 18:11
 

Well done Ben. You naieve views only prove the author correct. Your starry-eyed version of the NUS is the idalised one that almost sounds appealing. The reality of the organisation, as described by someone who has attended 3 NUS, conferences is absolutely shameful and it is not in the interests of ICU to be part of it. Unless you also have vast experience of NUS politics? The NUS is almost cliche as your typical fashionable student cause. The theory is brilliant but the reality isn't. Dry your eyes please.

Nov 01 2006 19:30
 

I know many student union presidents who get a lot out of the NUS and are strong supporters of the organisation. They tend to be the sabbs who play an active role in the NUS throughout their year in office. Those sabbs I know who don't view the NUS very favourably have admitted that they don't really try very hard to interact with the NUS.

I get the impression that, as with most things in life, you get more out if you put more in. In my experience of ICU, keen, proactive students get more out of ICU than those who simply don't bother interacting with our Union.

If Ben is being starry-eyed and keen then that's no bad thing at all.

I am willing to bet "Tigger" would get a lot more out of NUS than "Eyore".

5. Seb   
Nov 01 2006 19:42
 

Ben:

"It represents 1/2 million students at the 19 best UK institutions yet the media officer has be told in no uncertain terms by the national media (including THES) that they simply aren't interested in the views of any student organisation bar NUS. Do we really think Imperial would fare any better?"

Yes. We have had at times contacts in the BBC, our press release on fees was picked up by the Beeb, we got national coverage of the silent protest, a bit on newsnight, and the Economist wanted the results of our MORI poll.

Sure, the NUS has an easy pull "we represent umpteen million students" (many of whom are not in higher education). On the other hand, in recent years it has not delivered.

It did not oppose the introduction of fees, and it is questionable if they would have campaigned as strongly against the top up without dear old Tricky Dicky making alarming proposals of £15k. Proposals, incidentaly, which were recorded in a IC council paper which was... probably... leaked to the media by someone in ICU.

So yes, we can't expect to phone up a newspaper and demand an interview or them to print some random oppinion. If you want your voice to be heard, you do also need to have something worth saying and generate something news worthy.

John:

"I get the impression that, as with most things in life, you get more out if you put more in."

I'd rather our Sabbs put into ICU rather than the NUS.

Nov 01 2006 19:53
 

"I know many student union presidents who get a lot out of the NUS and are strong supporters of the organisation."

Like the ICU sabbs campaigning for a Yes vote, they are all angling for a career with the Labour Party and see being involved in the NUS as an excellent opportunity to get their foot in the door.

Nov 01 2006 20:50
 

Ben

Thanks for your comments - I genuinely welcome your views and I'd much rather this was a debate, not a chance to just throw insults at people.

You raise some very valid points, namely:

* NUS has many students on its books (and thus holds clout in media/political circles)

* We have a lack of similar institutions

* There is no alternative to NUS

Let me, very briefly, give my views on these three points.

Firstly, one can achieve clout from outside NUS. When it comes to speaking to MPs, Imperial has students from across the country. It really is as simple as asking to speak to your MP and turning up in Parliament at the right time. As we have plenty of students, that's plenty of MPs and constituencies to target. Done well, face to face campaigning by real students with informed arguments can be much more powerful than identikit NUS protests. When we fought top up fees MPs were happy to listen to us, some even promised to vote against the 2004 Act, but several complained about the narrow line that NUS fed them.

While at Durham in 2003/04 we got several BBC interviews, including national news at six (they accompanied us in the minibus down from Durham), they interviewed us in our Union, we got spots on local radio and they did a follow up peace on TV with us after the bill was enacted. We were just one union - all of this was arranged without NUS.

It's not true that they won't listen to anyone else.

On the second point, Ben, there are many unions that would work with us regardless of our affiliation to NUS. Good student unions want what is best for their members - they don't care who they work with as long as the ideals and goals are the same. Durham was happy to work with anyone - they need not all be disaffiliated. Don't get a grandiose view of NUS - most campaigning happens far outside of it, so it won't matter if we're in or out of it - what'll matter is how committed we are to campaigning and working with our friends.

On the last issue, you are right that NUS has no obvious competitors. I'd argue that it's not something I'd want to replicate, but I do feel we have a chance to make the Aldwych Group into something powerful - a loose grouping of unions which is lightweight, responsive and purposeful. You are right that they do not command a great audience at the moment, but just as John Collins proposes above that those who put more into NUS get more out of it*, I believe we could put much less work into getting much more improvement out of Aldwych.

*On this note, I think John is right - one does get more out of almost anything if more effort is invested, but I believe that with NUS you can get a little more out if you put more in, but either way the total benefit to students is small, and the time and money invested in NUS could be better invested in other more pertinent projects.

Tom

Nov 01 2006 21:25
 

To truthful one:

"Like the ICU sabbs campaigning for a Yes vote, they are all angling for a career with the Labour Party and see being involved in the NUS as an excellent opportunity to get their foot in the door."

Out of five Sabbs, two are labour, two are members of the Conservative party and one has not declared any political affiliation.

Somehow, I think at least two of them are not angling for a career with the Labour party, membership of the Tory party would tend to somewhat preclude them from that!

Nov 01 2006 21:54
 

The article that appeared in last weeks Felix (also on this site http://live.cgcu.net/opinion/pg/1299) that clearly questions the motives of Ben and John along the lines of their affiliation to the Labour Party. This is a flippant point but one that students should be aware of as the NUS has a history of producing Labour politicians.

Nov 01 2006 21:59
 

informative one:

Only two of the five sabbs are campaigning for the Yes vote. Two of the sabbs are Labour. They are the same sabbs.

Of the Tory sabbs, one has declared an interest but is not part of the Yes campaign. The other Tory and the one who has not declared any political affiliation are on the referendum committee so are unable to express an opinion either way.

Nov 01 2006 22:01
 

truthful one:

I think you mean "the article that appeared on this site last week and also in Felix" ;)

Nov 02 2006 09:49
 

Seb - I think we are getting closer to agreement (!). You are saying:

"I'd rather our Sabbs put [effort / time] into ICU rather than the NUS."

I am saying:

"I'd rather our Sabbs put effort / time into the NUS rather than ULU. "

So I see no reason why future sabbs cannot put equally as much of their time and efforts in to ICU if we join NUS. I spent 5 hours at ULU Council on Monday yet I honestly cannot say that being there was a good use of sabb time.

To the "truthful one" - FYI the yes campaign is supported by the Medic President, last year's Guilds President, last year's Phys Sci President, last year's ICU President, and many more people who have no connection whatsoever with Labour / Tories / Monster Raving Loony or any other political group. This debate is about students - not party politics.

Nov 02 2006 09:56
 

Final comment for a day or two - I have some work to get on with!

I'd like to thank Tom for raising the tone of this debate and providing us all with some genuinely thoughtful arguments. It makes a change from the reactionary and occasionally offensive personality attacks that have plagued these discussion boards lately.

Nov 02 2006 17:56
 

it is quite sad really; as has been pointed out above, the NUS could (and should) be a magnificent organisation that does tremendous amounts for students and provide all the benefits Ben and John talk about.

that was the intention when ICU helped to create it back in 19whatever. we very quickly discovered then (within a year or so) that it didn't work, so we left. we've dipped in briefly several times over the years but it has never improved and each venture has been a waste of our Union's resources.

I am yet to see anything that would convince me that this time will be any different and that we'll reap any significant return on our investment in joining.

15. Seb   
Nov 03 2006 01:15
 

"So I see no reason why future sabbs cannot put equally as much of their time and efforts in to ICU if we join NUS. I spent 5 hours at ULU Council on Monday yet I honestly cannot say that being there was a good use of sabb time."

Indeed. It's not a useful thing to do and that was normally recognised by delegating attendance to masochistic people on Council. I remember that well because I was one of the maochists who was delegated to it under Sen Ganeshes second term (though Fluffy Andrew Smith went along too). This was partly so we could push on fees.

ULU was generally a waste of time and the main reason for getting involved in it's hackery was simply the fact we were part of UL, and it provided some benefit in reciprocal C&S. Otherwise it was actually a large waste of time being utterly dominated by umpteen million welfare officers squabling over their right-on credentials while the finance sab tried to prevent their budget falling to bits entirely.

On top of that there was often an inherent distrust of ICU within ULU on the grounds that IC is considered right wing (evidence of which being the lack of motions condeming GW Bush etc. etc.) .

Yet ULU, by all accounts, is to NUS what ICU is to ULU: fairly focused on student issues and relatively sane.

Great we no longer need to subject Sabs and council members to ULU council meetings. Still not an argument for joining the NUS.

16. jesus   
Nov 06 2006 11:27
 

To the quote "We're ideally situated to meet regularly with relevant MPs"

'Ben' replies:

"But the trouble is, would they want to meet with us?"

The answer is yes, in a word. A few MPs, including former shaddow cabinet members, have children at Imperial, atleast one of which is involved in Union activities to some extent.

The trouble is, even if you get MPs to listen to you, the chances of it having much effect on a whole party are slim due to the inefficient way that party politics are run. Things like the Iraq war, winning elections, taxation, 'Green' taxation, inheritance taxation, stamp duty, oh and covering up scandals etc get in the way of any major party taking notice of any issues that affect any given MP in their constituency or a group of students who have badgered any given MP as we are a 'minority' less important to pay attention to than say, asylum seekers. Student issues are rarely head-line grabbing so even if the MPs are listening, the party policy makers and spin doctors won't be.

In short, it doesn't make any positive benefit to be in the NUS to get your views heard. You're unlikely for anyone in the NUS to hear you, let alone for anyone important to go hear the NUS. You're better off Faxing your MP (TM).

Nov 06 2006 11:41
 

One thing no one has brought up is that if we join the NUS we would have to increase the price of our beer and loose the ability to stock the ales we want. Imperial students are notoriously apathetical, why pay for a voice if we don't need to speak, and when we do care as people have said above we are more than capable of finding our own voice. Certainly the sabbs may get out what they put into it, paid trips to conferences to get dunk (on nasty, nasty beer) but what would we really get out of it.

As I see it the issues that affect us come in 3 categories. the first being general news - war and things that the general public are also concerned about and if you really want to there are plenty of rallies to go and have a little moan and chant at. The second are national student issues, things that all students care about, like top-up fees (except maybe our lovely cosmopolitan selection of international students), these issues are so general that every university cares and campaigns for them, yet the NUS couldn't stop it and as Tom points out "but several [MPs} complained about the narrow line that NUS fed them". Were they or indeed anyone to be successful on this point it is not going to matter if we are a member or not unless they decide to campaign for a "No top up fees except at Imperial because we don't like them" unless they really do behave like three-year olds! The third category is local matters, things that affect us because we are a very different university to most, student discounts on travel cards (thank you ULU), and internal issues which the NUS is not going to help us with.

Is it really worth £50,000 a year to be able to pay and extra £10 each to get a discount card when for £7 you can get the ISIC card which works on holiday as well and save the £50,000 for the clubs and societies that really make university life? Who was it said ?as with most things in life, you get more out if you put more in? indeed you do John but do we want what we will get out of the NUS, political factions, bad beer and a discount in topshop, certainly those sabbs with Labour inclined political intentions will get their money?s worth of network and political debate, but will we really benefit? Will we get more out of putting £50,000 into the NUS than we would putting it into clubs and societies where you can make friends, take up new hobbies and relax from the stress of this place, is that really better? I don?t think it is, if we care enough we can speak up on our own, but mostly we don?t care and we are happy going out with our friends to play sport or socialise or go to the cinema or the bar with its selection of ales and beers, we may not care about much? but think of the beer!

Nov 06 2006 13:36
 

We are not joining NUSSL so your beer argument is completely invalid. We will continue to sell as many types of ale as we want.

I enjoy drinking beer, socialising and going to the cinema too. If we join NUS then I would get to watch movies without having to persuade the cinema manager to give me a discount because he/she hasn't heard of Imperial.

Club funding would be unaffected whether we affiliate or not. In both scenarios club funding would go up to compensate for our departure from ULU.

19. Seb   
Nov 06 2006 13:42
 

John:

I've hardly ever had a problem with discount at cinemas, but perhaps a more effective solution would be to have a big board in the Union Loby and a page on Felix naming and shaming people who do not extend a discount to Imperial, encouraging our members to report such behaviour, and sending a form letter out monthly to those that don't, with a big picture showing their name on the blackball list surrounded by students on a Friday night.

I bet it would be a lot cheaper.

Nov 06 2006 13:43
 

Pardon me but haven't we been unaffiliated with the NUS for ages now and haven't we doing well on our own? Are things suddenly really terrible and I haven't noticed? For most students whether we're affiliated or not will simply be whether they get a few discounts at shops or not, it's the running of the union that's going to be affected. Surely the thousands we'd have to pay the NUS would be better spent on union clubs/events.

Nov 06 2006 13:57
 

John: If club funding will go up to compensate in either case, where is the affiliation fee going to come from? Or did you mean that funding will go up by *an* amount in either case, but it would go up less if we joined the NUS?

Nov 06 2006 14:15
 

I am happy to answer questions - thanks for asking them.

Engineer:

Here's how the finances will work:

ULU affiliation = ~£79K

NUS affiliation = ~£52K

Club funding increase needed = ~£10-15K

Even if we join NUS we will still have some spare money.

Chemist:

We have never been "on our own" during the last 30 years because we have always been a member of ULU (the University of London Union, which represents around 30 colleges in London).

We are have to leave ULU next year because Imperial is leaving the University of London. If we don't join the NUS now then we really will be on our own, which is something we have never experienced before.

Seb:

Nice idea, its been suggested before many times. It won't work because (a) nobody has the time to maintain a board, (b) I can't see how we would deal businesses outside London and (c) many of the NUS Extra deals (particularly the big ones) specifically apply to NUS members only.

Nov 06 2006 14:31
 

What would happen to the £52k if we didn't affiliate? Could that go to clubs, or would it disappear into a black hole somewhere?

Nov 06 2006 14:42
 

That would be up to the Executive Committee. I would argue for it to be spent on staff and / or support services that we used to get from ULU (and could get from NUS), but that is just my view.

25. Seb   
Nov 06 2006 15:02
 

John:

a) Then clearly it's not a priority for our membership. 52k, plus another 50k in card fees assuming half our 10,000 members apply for the card... it's not a fantastic deal is it? We could employ someone to do it for that.

b) We can't, but that's probably not the main area the problem occurs (out here in the sticks, where they ask for "Bod" cards they accept my IC card, and the only time I have had a problem is my old IC card that didn't have an expiry date) and there is always ISIC.

c) That's because the NUS going and ask them. If there are really so many disgruntled people complaining about student discount, there ought to be a huge amount of human resources kicking around our membership to actually do something about it.

I never particularly bought the discount argument.

26. Me   
Nov 07 2006 10:13
 

John - If nobody has time to maintain a board with a list of non-discount venues how on earth are they going to have time to "put into and get out of" the NUS?

Having also been to IC and to an NUS college I can honesty say that the only thing I got out of the NUS was the NUS card and even then it was a waste of time as I used my ISIC card to get discounts. While I was at IC I never got my ICU card refused (though I didn't shop in Topshop...) even when I went home to Aberdeen.

From a non-student point of view (now that I am not one) the only "exposure" I read from the NUS is on top-up fees and no-war. Since when was the war a student issue that only NUS members could have a say on? I have read more articles from respected members of IC than the NUS.

I would suggest you tried it alone rather than wasting £50k + on affiliation to an organisation that only cares when you want to join or leave. If things don't pan out then consider whether the £50+ is worth it.

27. Alex   
Nov 07 2006 16:51
 

At McDonalds they've even taken to producing their own student cards and not accepting NUS!

Overall I think students will find it hard to join an organisation that has no tangible benefits to them. They opposed top-up fees in a ridiculous way that didn't even come close to working - the government managed to pass the bill without any modification. It was close to embarrassing for an organisation that is supposed to be made up of intelligent people.

I don't actually know too much about the argument (you may have guessed!) but then i doubt the majority of students do either. You'd have to do a lot more to convince me and many others to join, much more than the arguments given so far anyway.

Nov 08 2006 01:22
 

Just a quick comment on the board issue mentioned above. If we don't have the time to maintain a board within our union, how can we justify sending delegates to the NUS meetings, which talks about the wars, the missiles and other non-student related issue that Imperial College Union officials have always stayed out of in the public domain (I am in no place to comment on their personal views). So personally I don't think that is a good argument.

Also from experience, company have agreed to provide student discounts when asked to clarify their position on student discounts. After all, we are students no matter whether we are part of the NUS or not.

[Please spread the word to your friends and inform them of the reasons for and against. Make an informed decision.]

Nov 08 2006 09:41
 

Come people, let's have some focus here. This debate isn't about notice boards. It's about whether or not we want our Union to be the most isolated union in the country.

I honestly believe that it is not in our interest to be completely out of the loop on national issues that have a direct impact on our members (e.g. RAE, Charity Bill, Tenancy Law and all the other things I learnt about at ULU meetings this year that next year's sabbs will not be allowed to attend).

I don't buy the idea that a tiny noticeboard in the Beit foyer will make up for our future representatives and officers having no access to knowledge and debate around national issues.

30. Alex   
Nov 08 2006 10:57
 

I think, for me, some evidence of how the NUS played a direct role in influencing these issues would be appreciable. To say that we should give the NUS >£50K simply to be 'in the loop' seems slightly ridiculous don't you think?

31. Seb   
Nov 08 2006 13:30
 

John:

So what do we gain buy being "in the loop"?

What, asside from 50K, does the NUS get from us being in the NUS? Do you expect to see any discernable shift in their policies?

The NUS will do all of these thigns anyway, whether we are in or not, and what they chose to campaign for will be unaffected by what Imperial students view is on the issue. We may send a delegate up to their national meeting, for which they will get a vote. Where we agree, it will make no difference, where we disagree, we will be outvoted and the NUS will still calim to be campaigning on our behalf.

As far as I can see, the only thing being "in the loop" will entail is that every so often we will be sent a bunch of campaign materials and asked to publicise a rally somewhere or other.

Part of the great strength of ICU is that when we do campaign, it has been carried forward by our people generating our own material. It's a good opportunity for the people who get involved to learn new skills, and it's more effective for it.

As for being isolated, we are as isolated as we chose to be. We have never been hampered while outside the NUS in working with other SU's, so why now all of a sudden? This choice between isolation and NUS membership is a totaly false one.

I suspect the whole NUS model of representation is out moded anyway. Politicians know well enough that NUS delegates do not acurately represent the voting intentions of their membership. Indeed, a significant fraction of the NUS members are not entitled to vote!

In terms of media coverage, society seems to be increasingly intollerant and unsympathetic to mass campaigns of what look like single interest groups. Particularly if you are waving banners saying "F**K fees".

You could exert a hell of a lot more influence on MP's by co-ordinating individual students at constituency levels, something increasingly easy to do with stuff like MySociety and possibly even networking sites.

32. Mark   
Nov 08 2006 14:28
 

When did the funding change please?

I'm sure that I was told at council that college would be funding the 54K required to affiliate to the NUS (although it may have been phrased "probably be", or "highly likely" or similar).

Last night (in the RCC meeting) I found out that ICU would be. When did this poistion change please?

Nov 08 2006 14:32
 

Seb:

Please see my Felix article this Friday - it deals with most of your points. I'll send it to "Live!" on Friday as well.

Needless to say, I disagree with pretty much everything you say and I can see that nothing I say will change your mind.

FYI: the vast majority of students that I met yesterday whilst campaiging in Reynolds Bar and SAF were positive about the NUS, and I doubt many of them are reading this discussion thread.

Nov 08 2006 14:35
 

Hi Mark

The college currently pay the ULU fee on our behalf. When we leave ULU next year, the college will give us the £79k that they used to give to ULU. It is proposed that the £52k for NUS would come from this additional £79k that we expect to get from College.

35. Andy   
Nov 08 2006 15:31
 

Isn't that a little inaccurate, John?

36. Seb   
Nov 08 2006 15:53
 

John:

Cheeky, you know well enough I'm not on campus. If I was (/if we were not in a run up to a new campaign on MAST) I'd be at the hustings asking the same awkward questions ;)

Felix website appears to be down at the moment, so I wait with bated breath for the online version.

37. Stef   
Nov 08 2006 21:24
 

'Here's how the finances will work:

ULU affiliation = ~£79K

NUS affiliation = ~£52K

Club funding increase needed = ~£10-15K

Even if we join NUS we will still have some spare money.'

I'm persuming that it has been budgetted that any increased costs due to NUS related activities eg travel (NUS Conference, convention, Regionals etc), training, conferences (please don't inflict LGB(?T) conference on IQ, its very boring) etc will be made by savings elsewhere - ULU training, transport to ULU etc. Have yet to see a mention of that. I did estiamte years ago the total cost (affiliation plus extra costs) being closer to 80k - maybe somewhere still in the DPEW office

38. Jim   
Nov 08 2006 21:46
 

Do you want a little spare money or a lot of spare money? I'd rather have lots.

Nov 12 2006 22:51
 

Dear Mr Page,

You article is spot on and those for the NUS are blind or so deeply politically motivated for their own gain that we would join at any cost for their own selfish futures.

Thanks,

Grumpy Old Man!

Nov 14 2006 18:19
 

I am a post-grad, I joined Imperial from a University with NUS membership. We got lectured once a year during lunch time(yes, they did it in the student canteen ) whenever they wanted our vote. I was tricked during my first year into getting a card which turned out to be of no value. The discounts were, politely put, useless. After that I never again bothered into anything they had to offer. In fact, all my friends had the same opinion of them. In any event, the area's Discos/Cinemas etc were just as happy to allow discounts, by simply producing the college ID, the Uni's student representatives had brokered deals for us...

Nov 15 2006 11:47
 

The arguments stated are very logical. After reading about Mr Page's previous experience, it seems to me that those involved in the ICU are surely more competant!! It's about time that the NUS realise that students care about the adequacy of their representation and about the likelihood that some change cxan occur. I'm sure that if IC lead the way, other unis will follow suit..

Nov 15 2006 15:40
 

Ok... I hope this was worth all the time I spent reading it as i am supposed to be doing coursework.

On Discounts - I had an NUS card as an FE student and got used to having two years of discounts on pretty much anything (including paying child fare on the bus to and from school). At that point I had a very comfortable job in a bank and lots and lots of money. Now I have none. The only time I have ever managed to use my IC card for discounts was when I fluttered my eyelids and played sweet and innocent with a trainee staff member in millets.

Lobbying Parliament - i went on a national demonstration last year to the Houses of parliamnet which was organised by Oxfam and make poverty History. I had made an appointment with my MP to see him four months in advance. They knew very well what was going on - the march is the biggest I have ever been on. Having queued for six hours in the rain I was finally told to leave a message with his secretary and they'd get back to me. I left five messages and over a year later he still hasn't got back to me. Tell me you could do better.

Clubs and Societies - our clubs are some of the best run in the country. they don't need anymore funding. yes i am an active member of nemerous societies. Yes I will be affected by pulling out of ULU and my participation in ULU activities will decrease. But i don't think this necessitates spending the extra £50,000 on clubs. It is just not required. (For more of my ranting on this matter read this weeks felix).

The NUS provides excellent resources and training for our Union Officers which we will still need. Finding these resources and getting the same quality of training will be very difficult and extremely costly. The professionalism of our institution will be at stake.

'Labour Sabbs'. I will claim at this point to know Ben and John reasonably well. (If anyone isn't aware i am ben's girlfirend). It confuses me somewhat that people keep banging on about ben's affiliation to the labour Party as i wasn't even aware of this until the NUS referendum dragged it up. I think this is quite a cheap dig. I sincerely believe that John and Ben are working in the interests of the Union as the are both very honest people and I have seen no inclination that they are working for personal merit.

Other university Sabbaticals -I have spoken to a number of Sabbs from other universities (including Cambridge - who one of my friends tried to convince me were not part of NUS - please get your facts straight) who have all told me how the institution greatly supported them during their Office and who highly recommend joining. Tom is the first person I have heard from otherwise. perhaps the no campaign are blowing his opinion out of proportion. Is this a case of sheep syndrome?

Conferences - I am very interested in attending an NUS conference. There are alot of myths springing up about them currently. Could this just be spin?

I have no political affiliation. If I did it would be neither Labour nor Conservative.

43. Foltan   
Nov 16 2006 00:28
 

As a fresher i have spent a long time trying to find a reason to be convinced that i should vote 'Yes'. The only two main arguments (loosely) are the 'student voice' and discount card. The latter is irrelevant and unecessary, i have received all my discounts without it, and without giving the NUS more money.

The former is more significant. Yes, i see the initial logic that we, as students, require a way to voice our opinions so the NUS seems a logical route. However, i am not convinced for one minute that i would actually agree with many views given by the NUS as i, as are all imperial students, in a completely different position to the large majority of their '3 day a week college attending' members and so do not in many ways WANT to be affiliated with this group and for these reasons have most definitely voted NO!

p.s. my 57 year old mu is a member of the NUS because she attends a sewing class once a week at a local 'regional college'. 'nuff said, in my opinion!

44. Jon   
Nov 16 2006 00:50
 

To me it seems the only reason we are having this vote on weather to go into the NUS or not is because our president is more concerned about bigwigging around other NUS members and getting into politics to further HIS career than his care for ICU. John Collins should be held responsible for this waste of time/money as it was not so long ago we last voted no for joining the NUS.

John Collins: regarding your problem of getting a discount at the cinema because the attendant had not heard of Imperial.... that is a pathetic argument i have never had a problem and i have been to cinemas from Scotland down to the South Coast of Kent- my imperial swipe card has always been recognised as a valid discount card from booking holidays abroad (done outside of imperial) to stationary discounts in high street shops.

VOTE NO! John Collins is using this union as a stepping stone to further his own career he has no real care of what this means to his students hence his weak arguments.

Nov 16 2006 08:00
 

I know it takes a while to read through all of the arguments so I will forgive you Jon for not having your facts straight.

John Collins has on many occaision answered this question, both on and off this website. He has no persoanl interest in winning the campaign. He supports it fully because he believes it is in the best interest of our union. I for one whole-heartedly believe him.

the argument about using imperial College Swipe cards is becoming tedious. Some people have had no problems - lucky you. But as I stated before I have hardly ever managed to use mine - it being refused most often here on the High Street in london never mind when I go home. This does not help either sides argument as there are clearly people who have experienced a split in responses.

John is not responsible for calling this referendum. You the student body are. A petition with the highest ever number of signatories ( I may have that wrong) was presented to John shortly after Fresher's Fayre. Student campaigners had drummed up support for the cause by demonstrating at the event. John is right to uphold their request 1. As this is union policy and as over 5% of the student population had requested it is now part of his job as president, 2. because this is democracty and noone should be told they cannot have a say on an issue they feel strongly about. Clearly lots of people feel strongly about this issue as has been shown by the turn out for voting and the number of hits on discussions omn Live! I heard yestreday that it was one every 4 seconds - and that is not just people pressing refresh to bring up the figures.

Yes it isn't so long ago that the NUS was voted against. But what tiny percentage of students are still here who voted last time? A handfull of medics. Five years has seen an entirely new student population come through. Some people have joined and graduated and were never asked their opinion. I for one am happy to get a chance to make a decision for myself rather than stand by that of a student body that were here five years ago. Time's change. And as I said everyone deserves to have a say. this is after all your union. You are the only people who can decide how it works.

My advice is Vote. Not to vote yes, or to vote no. I will uphold the decision of our students and I believe in the long run they will make the right one, whether this agrees with my point of view or not. Imperial has the right to make it's voice heard and arguing against the referendum is to pull out the tongues of an already gagging institution.

Nov 16 2006 09:29
 

PART TIME MSC?! what kind of an idiot are you?

Nov 16 2006 09:32
 

I presume that's a reference to the amount of work involved to do a part-time MSc (a lot!).

48. Editor   
Nov 16 2006 10:17
 

Kirsty - you're entirely right that this has got people involved. Over the last few days Live! has delivered 1 page every 4 seconds on average.

Nov 16 2006 10:41
 

I don't think there are any needs to attack anyone who is doing a part time MSc. Especially when you are not prepared to reveal your own identity.

For a lot of the MSc students they pay over £10,000 fees to do their degree, so I really think part-timing between study and work is justified for those who wish to do so.

50. Stef   
Nov 16 2006 11:55
 

also some MSc's you can only do part time as they require employment in a particular field.

Nov 16 2006 14:57
 

Not meaning to sound a little stupid but 'Laughing' exactly who is your part time MSc comment aimed at? This seems a little out of the blue. I find it hard to associate the words 'MSc' (from imperial) and 'idiot' together. A contradiction in terms you might say.

Nov 16 2006 14:58
 

See, I took it as calling Tom an idiot for taking on the huge amount of work associated with a part-time MSc - I thought calling someone with a degree from a good university and who managed to get in here an 'idiot' was a little far-fetched to be true.

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