YUSU IS DUE TO review its National Union of Students (NUS) affiliation by the end of the 2019/19 year, which will mean a referendum on the issue this academic year. The last vote on the issue took place in June 2016. Student unions affiliated with the NUS are required to review their membership every three years. This creates a three-year referendum cycle, meaning students will take to the polls on the issue before the end of summer term this year.
In a joint statement from YUSU’s Sabbatical Officers, they acknowledge that a referendum on NUS membership is due: “The Sabbatical Officer team is aware that YUSU is due to review its NUS Affiliation by the end of the 2018/19 Academic Year. In recent years the mechanism to review membership has been a referendum. While we recognise that referendums are only one method of reconsidering our affiliation, we are of the view that it is currently the most effective way to engage membership as widely as possible in decision making. Therefore, a referendum will take place early in the summer term.”
The last referendum on NUS affiliation in 2016 proved controversial. Indeed, the vote was brought forward by a year after demand from students. While 53 per cent of students voted to remain affiliated with the NUS, there was a highly vocal No2NUS campaign which saw the organisation as “self-serving”, and objected to the leadership of then-President Malia Bouattia after allegations of anti-Semitism.
The YUSU Sabbs have said that they intend to provide students with the tools to cast an informed vote: “We think it is extremely important that we explore our NUS membership before passing judgement on whether we should continue with our affiliation. In national politics, the last couple of years have highlighted the importance of understanding all the information available and taking an evidence-based approach before choosing to remain or leave! Therefore, over the upcoming year, we will be looking at all the implications of our membership, covering aspects such as how it affects us financially to the support that it provides for many of our Liberation Groups and wider student body”.
From the new TOTUM card – which is replacing the NUS Extra discount card – to our elected National Conference delegates, our student body engages with the NUS in all sorts of different ways. Therefore, in the lead up to the referendum, we believe that it is vitally important to provide students with as much information as possible to better explain what YUSU’s affiliation actually means, and we will offer opportunities for the student body to discuss this at length.”
Turnout in the last NUS referendum was 15.7 per cent, a figure which is considered a high level of engagement compared to other student referendums. This was possibly due to the controversy surrounding the NUS at the time. YUSU will possibly hope for less controversy this time around, but it is hoped that students will be equally as engaged with the question of NUS affiliation when they cast their votes this year