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National Executive Council Meeting 5 | Accountability

Wednesday 15-06-2016 - 17:09

National Executive Council Meeting 5 was held online. As part of the meeting council members were able to hold officers to account for their work since February. As there was no live stream, accountability questions and their responses are posted below

Who's who on the NEC? 

The National Executive Council is made up of elected Officers and Councillors. Visit the NEC Hub to find out more about who they are and what they do. 

What is Accountability?

Officers gave a report of their work that is avaliable on the NEC Hub. Council members were given the opportunity to ask questions of the officers on work that has taken place since the last meeting in February. 

 

Accountability Questions

Question From: Susuana Amoah, Womens Officer

Question To: Mahamid Ahmed, NEC Postgraduate Taught Students Officer

Question: Is NUS Going to publish a guidance for new postgrads accessing loans?

Response: I will be publishing a blog on June 16 on how the new system works and where to apply for it. The Student Loans Company have published guidance on the new loans – we obviously plan to promote this through our channels.

 

Question From: Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland President

Question To: Mahamid Ahmed, NEC Postgraduate Taught Students Officer

Question: What has been the highlight of your year?

Response: The highlight of the year has definitely been the achievement of the #CapsOff campaign, and all the great work we have done to create the new postgraduate loans system. Moreover, the campaign proved a diversity of tactics is essential in getting compromises on the government’s original position of keeping age caps on loans – lobbying MPs and VCs, going to policy tables, making regular statements, presenting evidence on the importance of the loan to those aged over 30+ and ultimately showing the wider benefit to society of a loan system that incorporates those aged over 30. The NUS Postgraduate Campaign has really punched above its weight this year for postgraduate taught students; I have also contributed to guidance on postgraduate mental health, contributed further to postgraduate loans discussions with UUK and PolicyUK and started campaigning against PGT fee inflation.

 

Question From: Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland President

Question To: Richard Brooks, Vice President Union Development

Question: What has been the highlight of your year?

Response: #LOVESUs and the positive response from stakeholders, alumni, students & staff about students’ unions.

 

Question From: Susuana Amoah, Womens Officer

Question To: Beth Button, NUS Wales President

Question: How have you responded to the disappointment and upset by welsh black students after NUS Wales Voted to Actively work with UKIP and supported your black students' campaign this year

Response: At our democratic conference in March, a motion was bought by a member students' union entitled "Rules of engagement", which was debated and subsequently democratically passed by a majority of those representatives at conference. The policy was bought as a result of UKIP being predicted (rightly) to look set to gain up to 9/60 seats in the Welsh assembly elections in May. There was a recognition from the union who submitted the policy that NUS Wales currently didn't actively engage with or share a platform with UKIP, and whilst this was seen as the right approach at the time, if they were to hold such a large proportion of seats in parliament, NUS Wales would have to engage with them in some way or another.

As such, the motion aimed to set out a series of rules as to how NUS Wales would 'engage with' UKIP, and when this would be necessary. This motion wasn't aiming to encourage NUS Wales to 'actively work with' UKIP, or to promote the party - in fact it was quite the contrary - it was simply stating when it may be appropriate for NUS Wales to interact with the party, and in what way they should do that. Recognising the dangerous and unrepresentative views of the party, the motion aimed to ensure that NUS Wales would always be in a position to and would be mandated to actively challenge UKIP on their policies, and in particular, to raise public attention to their stance on liberation issues.

The motion importantly also states rules for how NUS Wales will engage with UKIP, and in what way - for example, explicitly stating that they will not be given a platform unchallenged or unopposed - meaning that NUS Wales will only engage with UKIP publicly when it is to challenge them, not promote them.

In the May election, UKIP went from 0-7 seats in the assembly, giving them over 10% of the vote. This was a significant win for them, and puts them as one of the opposition parties in the assembly, and as such, a party that NUS Wales will encounter in their work. The motion passed at conference gives the next team of elected officers a strong mandate to actively challenge and critique UKIP, but also gives them the mandate to be able to do this publicly, and on platforms.

I fully support the democratic decision of the conference to pass this motion, as i think, sadly, it is necessery. . I'm genuinely really sorry that black students have felt let down and dissapointed by the passing of this motion, and I recognise the debate at conference was a tense one, and on reflection, I do feel we could have facilitated a discussion about the context and need for the motion outside of the policy debate. However I do not feel the motion is indicative of NUS Wales voting to acitvely work with UKIP, and I trust next year's officer team to actively and continuously challenge them.

(The full motion can be found on page 41 of the National Conference Adoptions Document)

This year, having listened to feedback from our liberation officers about resource and support, we have worked to ensure they are better supported by the organisation. We have negotiated with NUS UK to double the financial support given to all liberation campaigns, including the black students campaign, meaning they now receive £1000 a year to run their campaigns. To support them in making the most of their year and to help them plan, staff in the NUS Wales office have been active in engaging in a planning process with each officer, and available throughout the year for support. Each liberation campaign have had an 'ask' in the NUS Wales manifesto for the Welsh assembly election, and we have supported the black students' campaign in inputting to this, as well as opportunities to input into relevant legistlative consultations. The black students' campaign has been offered support with promoting their campaign, engaging with students' unions through the individual schemes of work, and organizing their democratic conference.

 

Question From: Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland President

Question To: Sorana Vieru, Vice President Higher Education

Question: How do you plan to work collegiately with the Nations around TEF and other cross border HE issues?

Response:

Thanks for the question, Vonnie. I’m keen to be working collaboratively as much as possible and have communicated that to NUS UK policy staff who are liaising with nations staff and the membership services team on delivery and before going on leave I’ve asked for our nations catch-up on the White Paper and Bill to be rescheduled as a couple of officers couldn’t make the initial one that I scheduled after the publishing of the documents and will be chasing that up. During this meeting I want to propose the formation of a working group between interested officers on the TEF/ Bill implications and cross-border HE issues to come to a clear agreement on joint campaigning and positioning as what we have ahead is a very challenging year in terms of Westminster reforms not only to the English sector but to the balance of the national HE system. I want to ensure all the policy passed at National Conference translates into actual national campaigns which are applicable and customisable to institutions operating in devolved contexts, which is why I’m really hoping to get your input into the shape of the NSS sabotage consultation that will go out to members this summer. I think we should be working together as much as possible to lobby UUK, Universities Scotland and Universities Wales on the public positions. We also have to make a cross-border effort to ensure the Bill isn’t subject to EVEL (English Votes for English Laws) so that we maximise our chances when it comes to a vote. 

I welcome any other suggestions of what you’d think would work in terms of making this work as these are my starting suggestions and hope we can make that initial ‘project’ meeting happen as soon as possible (apologies I had to cram all my days of leave left this year in the last weeks) and look forward to seeing you all at officer induction and catching up. 

 

Questions Received but not answered by NEC members: 

Question From: Susuana Amoah, Womens Officer

Question to: Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland President

Question: How have you supported your black students campaign this year?

 

Question From: Susuana Amoah, Womens Officer

Question to: Fergal McFerran, NUS-USI President

Question: How have you encoraged more black students to get involved with NUS-USI?

 

Question From: Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland President

Question To: Megan Dunn, National President, Shakira Martin, Vice President Further Education, Shelly Asquith, Vice President Welfare, Mostafa Rajaai, International Students Officer, Sarah Nwafor, Mature Students Officer, Erin Lee, Part-Time Students Officer, Maddy Kirkman, Disabled Students Officer, Robbiie Young, LGBT+ Officer (Open Place), Fran Cowling, LGBT+ Officer (Womens Place), Susuana Amoah, Womens Officer, 

Question: What has been your highlight of the year?

 

Question From: Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland President

Question To: Piers Telemacque, Vice President Society and Citizenship, Malia Bouattia, Black Students Officer

Question: You have significantly overspent on your campaign's allocated budget this year, how do you account for that?

 

The first meeting of the new policy cycle will be 18 July 2016. 

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