Thursday 09-03-2017 - 10:00
I hope you all had a Happy International Women’s Day! This week I’ve been celebrating our collective wins, proudly announcing some amazing NUS news and standing in solidarity with Women, the NHS and against Hate Crime
Celebrating our collective wins
NUS had an important win this week after the House of Lords made an amendment to the Higher Education and Research Bill, to remove the link between the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and tuition fees. It’s a huge victory for students and SUs and shows that our collective campaigning is working. Although it’s a step in the right direction, we still need to ensure the amendment is not overturned by government when it returns to the House of Commons, and continue to fight alongside our lecturers against this flawed approach to measuring teaching. We need you to contact your MPs to urge them to fight to keep the Lords amendments in the Bill, find out more here and read the blog about #TEFoff next steps here.
In his Spring Budget Phillip Hammond also announced a £500m investment in Technical Education, as well as plans to increase training to 900 hours a year for 16-19-year-olds. This additional funding for further education is welcome, but after years of devastating cuts to the sector it is vital that we continue to fight closures, push for the reinstatement of maintenance support and for the needs of students, not business, to be at the heart of adult education policy.
We’ve also confirmed our new wave of Liber8 campaign days including; It Stops Here campaign day, Education activist campaign day, Student Housing campaign day and the Mental Health campaign day.
Proudly announcing some amazing NUS news!
This week we made history at NUS Trans Conference, as you elected your first ever full time Trans Officer in Europe. I’d like to congratulate Jess Bradley, our first ever Trans Students' Officer for the National Union of Students! Jess will be heading up the new Trans Campaign in NUS for 2017-18. Trans students have called for autonomy for years, so I’m glad it's finally realised, and extremely proud of our members for passing this policy. You can read the full Trans Conference election results here.
In other news I’m also delighted that the University of Bradford Students' Union voted by a big majority to stay affiliated to the National Union of Students! Our movement is stronger together.
Standing in solidarity with Women, the NHS and against Hate Crime
On International Women's Day I joined hundreds of people outside the Irish Embassy in London, proud to stand in solidarity with the #Strike4Repeal movement. Across Ireland, people are speaking out against the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which heavily restricts the reproductive rights of women. Thousands of people including many students gathered in cities across the UK. They are part of a struggle that stretches from Poland and the Philippines to Argentina and the USA. We’ve won in Poland, and will keep on winning. I’d like to thank all those who came out in solidarity, and all the activists who made it happen. It was a fitting way to mark our fighting tradition on #IWD2017. Ar aghaidh leis an streachailt!
I also spoke at an International Women's Day assembly at Stoke Newington School, about the power of women in our student movement and society, and of the struggles for justice around the world. It was an absolute honour to be invited and I hope it stoked the fire and fight for gender equality.
Our National NUS Women’s Officer Hareem Ghani has written a powerful blog about supporting the strikes of women all of the world, which you can read here. Hareem, the NUS Women’s Campaign and 1752 Group have also launched a survey about staff-student sexual misconduct to help shape new guidance for the Higher Education sector. Please do share your feedback.
Last weekend I spoke at #OurNHS, which was one of the largest mobilisations in defence of our health service in UK history. It was fantastic to join student nurses from Sheffield Hallam, thank you for inviting me!
The National Summit: Trump, Brexit and Beyond (Building bridges, not walls) is nearly here. On Sunday 12 March we’ll be coming together to tackle hate crime in our communities and campuses - strengthening existing campaigns, and developing new ones. Take a look at the high-profile speakers, campaigners and panellists ahead of the event.
We’ve also been looking into tackling online abuse which is particularly pertinent with National Conference around the corner. Our Chief Returning Officer at National Conference, Jules Mason has written a blog: ‘Treating everyone with respect is for life, not just conference floor’. It’s also worth mentioning that you must register by Friday 10 March if you want to ensure you have free accommodation, if you register after this date you’ll have to make your own accommodation arrangements - register here.
In respect, peace and solidarity
NUS National President