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My review of the week (30 November - 4 December 2015)

Friday 04-12-2015 - 15:57

This week the year entered a final sprint as we entered December. I can’t believe it has already been five months since I took up post as National President. In that time we have worked together to put the crisis in the costs of study and living that students’ face right at the top of the agenda.

But compared to some of my fellow officers and students’ unions officers across the country you may have noticed I’m not a particularly good user of social media! I try my best but I don’t find it as natural to take straight to Twitter or post on Facebook – but I realise that it’s a great way of keeping in touch and you finding what I’m doing representing you as National President.

So whilst I’ll definitely share this out on FB, I thought it would be useful to summarise what I’ve been up to this week representing our movement, and some of the useful resources.

So here’s my review of the week;


International visitors

This week on Monday I was lucky enough to get to meet a delegation of student representatives from India.

  • Visiting our London office, I was privileged to get to speak to our colleagues from across the world about student representation in other countries and hear about their incredible work to change and transform education there.
  • NUS has always worked internationally across the world, and whilst I was meeting this team from India, your Vice President Union Development Richard Brooks and NUS Wales President Beth Button have been in Romania meeting with colleagues from across Europe.


More on what NUS does in this area

  • You can read more about the work NUS’ undertakes with international students here and do get in touch with Mostafa, NUS’ International Students’ Officer for more information and campaigns that NUS is working on.


Representing your views in Parliament

On Tuesday, whilst NUS’ Policy Development Convention got underway in Manchester, I was representing students’ unions in Parliament to two Parliamentary Select Committees.

  • Select Committees hear evidence from organisations on a number of different issues and you have to turn up when called!
  • Being called up to two on one day is slightly unusual but I was grateful for the change to put across the views of NUS and students’ unions on two very important issues.


Business Innovation and Skills on higher education

  • In the morning I was in front of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee giving evidence alongside Sally Hunt from the University and College Union as well as other sector representatives.
  • The committee was discussing quality in higher education in particular interest of the Teaching Excellence Framework.
  • I put across NUS’ concerns and red line in linking teaching quality with any rises in tuition fees.
  • I also gave a robust and strong response to the Green Paper from the government and the views from students’ unions across the country.
  • You can watch the session and my evidence here.


More on what NUS does in this area

  • Your Vice President (Higher Education), Sorana Vieru, has launched a ‘Quality Doesn’t Grow on Fees’ campaign for students’ unions about these very issues and in response to the TEF. You can find a briefing here.


Home Affairs Select committee on countering extremism

  • In the afternoon I was then speaking to the Home Affairs select committee giving evidence alongside Professor Julius Weinberg who is the Vice Chancellor at Kingston University.
  • The committee was discussing the government’s strategy for countering extremism particularly in reference to Prevent.
  • This is obviously an incredibly important and difficult area for students’ unions and I was giving evidence on why NUS finds the Prevent strategy counterproductive and threatens to marginalise whole communities.
  • I gave a strong defence of students’ unions work in protecting students through external speakers’ policies, No Platform and our work in building cohesive campuses.
  • You  can watch the session and my evidence here.


More on what NUS does in this area

  • NUS has produced guidance for students’ unions on how to mitigate risks for external speakers and has issued significant support which you can find here
  • NUS has also issued guidance we commissioned concerning students’ unions and the Prevent strategy which you can read here


National Executive Council

Following my day in Parliament on Tuesday I headed up to Manchester Metropolitan University Students’ Union who were hosting NUS’ Policy Development Convention and our National Executive Council meeting

(Yes, NEC was held in District 13 of the Hunger Games!... fitting)

  • Policy Development Convention is an annual meeting of all our Zone Committees and begins to form policy that goes to National Conference in April.
  • Our National Executive Council meeting took place on Wednesday which discussed a number of policies.
  • You can watch both Policy Development Convention and NEC by finding out more information here.
  • You can also read all the papers from both over on NUS Connect’s Shape Our Work page.


#CutTheCosts action ahead of the National Lobby

Students’ unions all over the country have been campaigning and taking action on campus to #CutTheCosts that students’ face as well as help NUS influence the government – by spelling out how damaging the government’s planned changes to maintenance grants and to college provision will be.

  • This week that campaign became even more important as the government has set down their plans in Parliament for the scrapping of maintenance grants.
  • Students’ unions take to Westminster on Tuesday to ask MPs to call for a debate to ensure the government cannot ignore students’ concerns.
  • We have a ‘Winning The Arguments’ briefing available and with a briefing for the nations and Further Education, too.
  • You can read more about the lobby here and students’ unions with any questions can email us on campaigns@nus.org.uk!


Other resources for students’ unions

  • This week NUS and the Disabled Students’ Campaign responded to the Government over the future of the Disabled Students’ Allowance.
  • NUS has issued a response and detailed briefing for students’ unions on the government’s Autumn Statement and Spending review which you can access for students’ unions staff and officers here.
  • Students’ unions across the country have been having fun and campaigning with our giant #CutTheCosts pig – you can find out where it’s been by tracking the pig’s journey on NUS Connect here.
  • NUS has also responded to the government’s plans to cut support for medical students and issued a briefing on this, available here.


I hope this helps you access more of the resources that NUS is producing every week for students’ unions. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch and I’ll see you soon,

Megan x

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