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Imperial Votes to Disaffiliate

Jun 25 2008 13:00
Ashley Brown
Imperial is to leave the National Union of Students, with 70.3% of 2,075 voters voting 'No' to continued affiliation.
Live!'s NUS conference t-shirts proved prophetic...

Imperial students have voted overwhelmingly to leave the National Union of Students, following a week-long period of voting in an affiliation referendum. A total of 2,075 votes were cast, just making the quorum of 2,022 votes required to make the result valid.

A turnout of 15.4% is half that of the last referendum, but an excellent turnout given the time of year. Imperial College Union will now immediately submit its paperwork for disaffiliation in order to meet a 1st July deadline, which is believed to be the cut-off date for saving next year's affiliation fee. There has been some disagreement with the NUS over the procedure for disaffiliation and the date at which next year's fee becomes due. Imperial would retain voting rights until December 31st, with the possibility of an extraordinary conference still to come.

2075 votes were cast, with 1 spoilt paper and the following votes:

  • Yes: 617 (29.7%)
  • No: 1457 (70.3%)

ICU President, Stephen Brown, said:

"It is unfortunate that the NUS failed to modernise this year but it is not reasonable for the NUS to expect Unions to continue to generously fund an organisation that has consistently failed to fulfill its potential. During this debate students felt that the quality of representation offered to them by NUS was woefully lacking and that on balance it was best that officer time and financial resources were re-directed to other priorities. I would like to thank both campaign teams and the student media for bringing the debate on NUS affiliation to the student body and I would like to thank the Returning Officer Alistair Cott for the fair and efficient manner in which he ran the referendum."

A number of NUS members and former ICU President John Collins had believed only a few hundred people would vote this late in the year.

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Discussion about “Imperial Votes to Disaffiliate”

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.
Jun 25 2008 13:06

Thank goodness for that.

Jun 25 2008 13:16

Woo hoo!

3. Jen   
Jun 25 2008 13:26

I love the time at which you wrote the article Ash!

Jun 25 2008 14:20

How do you spoil a ballot paper in an online referendum where the only options are "Yes" or "No"?

Jun 25 2008 14:23

By making a copy of the page and changing the form to send 'Maybe' instead of 'Yes', I presume...

Jun 25 2008 14:55

Only at Imperial would you have someone copying a page so they could say maybe!

So what next for ICU? Do we just carry on as normal? I suppose it's not like there was anything extrordinary happening when we were in the NUS.. I can't believe we actually disaffiliated!

Jun 25 2008 16:07

"So what next for ICU? Do we just carry on as normal? I suppose it's not like there was anything extrordinary happening when we were in the NUS.. I can't believe we actually" AFFILIATED! (at the first place)

Jun 25 2008 16:14
Jun 25 2008 16:35

Poor Wes! I half feel bad that we've kicked the first of the (fairly short) line of dominoes..

Jun 25 2008 17:09

So what would have happened if 54 people who voted Yes abstained instead?? hehehe

11. um   
Jun 25 2008 19:45

sorry what if?? I don't follow... i'm stupid i know

Jun 25 2008 20:57

So happy. Voted no and asked all my friends to do the same.

Jun 25 2008 21:04

Yeah I know, its so exciting to be free from the evil shackles of the loonies! I'm really looking forward to the higher education stuff knowing that Imperial's got it's own voice and and won't be ignored because we're part of that dismal organisation. Rah rah!

Jun 25 2008 21:52

I don't feel bad, they only wanted us for our money then ignored us when we were there!

I'm pleased we're not throwing ?46000/year down a drain anymore. :-)

Jun 25 2008 23:17

"What if" means that if 54 less people didn't vote, it wouldn't have reached quorum, so we would presumably have remained in the NUS for the time being... interesting point!

16. Baldy   
Jun 25 2008 23:43

Nice. Glad you guys finally saw sense.

Jun 25 2008 23:43

If, in any referendum, it is clear that supporters of the status quo are boycotting in an attempt to lose the battle but win the war on a technicality then there is a case for removing the 15% quorum clause in the constitution.

Credit to the yes campaign on this one. They did not take the anti-democratic boycott route and instead argued for what they believed was best.

Jun 25 2008 23:50

Congratulations. Although I've no idea what possessed you lot to affiliate in the first place. I only had to meet the NUS once to realise why my predecessors considered the organisation utterly pointless.

Jun 26 2008 09:39

Yes Mustafa, you may have disagreed, but the decision to affiliate last year was the will of over 2,000 students. That's called democracy, oh wait, I've just realised why you didn't understand it.

20. Hmm.   
Jun 26 2008 13:37

"will of over 2,000 students"

Completely of their own accord. Nothing to do with any sabbs raising the petition and supporting the yes campaign. I suspect that's the "you lot" in question.

Jun 26 2008 14:56

""What if" means that if 54 less people didn't vote, it wouldn't have reached quorum, so we would presumably have remained in the NUS for the time being... interesting point!"

Not sure that it is. The margin of victory for the no campaign was huge this time, 40 points. The affiliation was ridiculously close. So the fact that small numbers of people swing votes in which...erm...a small number of people vote is not, to my mind, especially interesting.

Jun 26 2008 17:46

Post 21: Sorry for making a point you find unimportant :P

I was just surprised that people who wanted to stay in the NUS decided to vote, if I was of that mind set I'd never have voted and if a small number of people who voted Yes didn't vote, it wouldn't swing the results but make them invalid since they wouldn't have reached quorum.

Jun 26 2008 17:59

Yea, but can you imagine if nobody voted yes and the referendum reached quorum with a 100% NO vote... it wouldn't have boded well for any future reaffiliate campaign.

Even with a 100% NO vote below quorum, the battle may have been won to stay in the NUS, but the moral victory would have been lost and it would put the YES camp in a very weak position for next year.

Jun 26 2008 18:36

Have finally recovered. I'm sorry for the way things have turned out, I really believe that it is in the best interest of Imperial students to remain within NUS. During the campaign I found out what NUS does exactly, and how it does it, and I'm not sure student unions, even with the best of intentions, could perform any better.

It will make a nice experiment though - how does an active, well-funded and well-connected union like Imperial fare with regards to HE's funding review next year, in comparison with NUS...

Jun 26 2008 19:40

@24 " does an active, well-funded and well-connected union like Imperial fare with regards to HE's funding review next year, in comparison with NUS..."

This illustrates nicely why NUS does not represent Imperial with any understanding.

It's _not_ a funding review of HE; it's a review of the fees system for UG EU/UK HE students alone. These are half of Imperial's student population compared to three-quarters of the national HE student population.

For an overview of a review that affects HE _much_ more than the fees review - look at this presentation from HEFCE's Chair in April -

What would be interesting to see (not that we can ever know); of those voting in both this and the previous referenda - how many changed their position?

Jun 26 2008 23:57

The decision to disaffiliate this year was the will of over 70% of the students who cared enough to vote. That's also called democracy... so why take it out on Mustafa??

Jun 27 2008 00:06


I see your point now. You had this in mind, perhaps?

Now that tactic truly is undemocratic.

Jun 27 2008 10:14

How is it undemocratic? In this case less than half those needed to make the referendum quorate voted. That means that either the issue was not important enough to the Italian people for it to go to referendum or that the abstainers (those who wish to maintain the status quo) were in the majority anyway. Either way I think it gives a pretty accurate picture of what the Italian people wanted in the referendum.

Jun 28 2008 00:40

So when do we have the referendum to reaffiliate? Love Indecision? Love Democracy.

Jul 30 2008 16:08

@ old lag: As 'Hmm' put it, the "you lot" was a reference to the Union politic, not the student body.

I'm 99% certain that if you go through the records right back to 1922 you will find that every General Meeting and Referenda that has considered an NUS affiliation motion has voted in accordance with the wishes of the ICU President of the day.

@Soumaya: Imperial College Union did fine without the NUS in previous HE reviews. Back in 2004 I led a delegation of Imperial students to a mass lobby of parliament that senior NUS Officers acknowledged was larger than the number the NUS brought from all of their affiliates in the entire country. The ?3000 cap on fees was announced following the public and media outcry after ICU leaked Imperial's plans to charge up to ?15,000 per year - up this point the universities had been confident of persuading the government to allow them to charge ?5,000 or ?6,000. In accordance with our policy, ICU lobbying helped bury the proposal for a graduate tax (which IIRC the NUS preferred to tuition fees) at the last minute just as it was about to get into the 2003 HE White Paper. The London rate of student loan was also increased to about the level we had been calling for. We couldn't stop variable fees, but to be honest they were inevitable after the NUS supported the introduction of tuition fees in 1998: the government could only pretend all degrees are worth the same for so long.

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See Also

  1. Ten Reasons to Stay
    17 Jun 08 | NUS Debate
  2. 5 Common Anti-NUS Myths
    17 Jun 08 | NUS Debate
  3. Ten Reasons to Leave
    17 Jun 08 | NUS Debate

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