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After the demo - Educate, employ, empower

Thousands of students marched through London to stand up for a different future and against a government that has put an entire generation at risk. From unprecedented levels of debt to high unemployment and an inability to get onto the property ladder, the issues facing students are down heartening to say the least.

We marched through London to take action against this, to demand a properly funded tertiary education system accessible to all; fair work, fair pay and sustainable jobs; and to create a movement to take our demands forward to the next General Election.

"It was an amazing day. Thank you to everyone that came out to march on the streets and all others that supported online. But the campaign is not over yet" Liam Burns, NUS President.

So what comes next? How do we engage all of the activists, many of whom have demonstrated for the first time, in our campaigning to demand and create a better future? The demo was not an end in itself, but is a key part of our strategy to create lasting and significant change.

At NUS we’ve been busy putting together a calendar of campaigns and campaigning actions, for students’ unions and students to get involved in, shape and take forward. All of these campaigns have arisen out of the democratic process that makes NUS what it is, and shaped by our message: educate, employ and empower.

As part of your mobilisation for the national demo, you will no doubt have a clear idea of what issues within education, employment and empowerment are important to your students, and you may well have active campaigns on some of these issues. Now is the time to start and further your campaigning on those issues, get involved in other campaigns, supported by NUS – at a local and national level, so that together we can make a real difference to students’ lives.

In the next few months

There are a wide range of campaigns being launched or stepped up a level in the next few months, focusing on employment issues such as securing the living wage at universities and colleges and ending unpaid internships to ensure more equitable routes to employment. We are also focusing on a range of education issues, such as securing better timetabling at institutions so that students find themselves able to participate fully; tackling the government’s proposed fees & loans model for further education; proposing an alternative funding model for postgraduate education, and reducing the exorbitant accommodation costs faced by students.

One key date to keep in mind is December 5th – the launch of the Pound in Your Pocket research, the first ever in-depth, comprehensive study into student support outside of the loans system. We will be publishing the final report on NUS Connect.

Empowerment runs through all of our campaigns and one of the key reasons we have demonstrated under this slogan is that many of the issues we have and intend to campaign for are all connected. All four liberation campaigns have a number of actions coming up, including a series of activist training days, the Black Students’ Winter Conference (1-2 December; come along if you are or represent Black students) and Disabled History Month, which starts today.

Why not use the Disabled History Month toolkit to run a change campaign in December? Whether that’s about fighting cuts to support services, or starting a campaign to change your institution’s policies on mental health, signing the Time to Change Pledge as a first step, there are a number of things you and your students can do.

Immediate actions – unpaid internships and equal marriage!

Unpaid, unfair, illegal

While there are a range of NUS campaigns students’ unions can get involved in, there are a number of specific actions your students can do now. On 5th December we'll be lobbying Parliament calling for the advertising of unpaid internships to be outlawed as a step to removing inequitable routes to employment. We have secured a 10 minute rule bill to be read in the house and we ask you to write to your MP and encourage them to stand up and say yes to the bill. A draft letter and guidance for students’ unions will be released this week - watch this space! 

Equal marriage

In December we will be launching a campaign for equal marriage, calling on the government to bring in legislation introducing marriage for same sex couples, so that people can have the opportunity to decide for themselves how to express their relationships. The first step of the campaign will be asking students to sign a petition, which you can do now. We’ll be supporting students’ unions to plan a range of creative actions in their communities and campuses before and after Christmas, contact their MPs and come along to a rally on Valentine’s Day 2013, as well as a lobby of Parliament on the day that MPs vote to adopt it or not!

Another key date soon after the demo to keep in mind is November 24th – the Reclaim the Night march, organised by the London Feminist Network, supported by NUS’ Women’s campaign; come along and say no to all forms of violence against women.

Other key priorities for December

In December we’ll also be releasing a whole load of resources for students’ unions to digest, use to plan campaigns and engage students, along with opportunities to get involved in research and come along to activist training days. A few highlights include:

  • Resolve to resolve!  In December we’ll be asking students to write a Christmas card of complaint to Matthew Hancock, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for further education, skills and lifelong learning, as the first step to a new campaign we are launching through which we are aiming to secure an independent complaints adjudicator for students in further education!

  • Equal Access campaign - in partnership with the Student Action for Refugees (STAR), we are launching a campaign calling for equal access to higher education for refugees and asylum seekers, so that they can join students at university as equals. We will be providing a toolkit in mid-December for students’ unions and societies to use.

  • Living wage resources - in December we’ll also be releasing new resources for students and student officers on how to campaign for the Living Wage for all workers on their campuses. This will include info for those who haven’t started their campaign yet and those who have made some wins but still have some way to go to gaining accreditation as a Living Wage employer.
  • Accommodation costs – in December we will be launching a guide for students’ unions to use the recently launched accommodation costs survey data (which revealed that the average cost of a room in university owned accommodation in the UK doubled in just ten years), in creative campaigns to ensure students are not priced out of living in halls. Watch this space!


In the New Year

In the New Year we will be launching a range of campaigns you can get involved in, where we will be providing resources such as campaign guides and materials, plus national events and actions. Watch this space!

  • Keep FE free: The next stage to our campaign is to ensure apprentices are exempt from the government’s proposed FE fees and loans model, we will be supporting students and students’ unions to engage in a range of actions, with a national constituency lobby to take place in February!
  • Child-friendly campuses: Beginning of January – we are launching a campaign to enable students’ unions to make their campuses child-friendly, so that student parents do not experience barriers to completing their studies.
  • Better timetabling: In mid-January we will be supporting students’ unions to campaign to secure better timetabling at their institutions so that students find themselves able to participate fully. Expect a full campaign planning guide with creative campaign ideas, resources and more!
  • Postgraduates who teach: A campaign to enable students’ unions to use data from our national survey to establish best practice for postgraduate students who teach. To be launched early February. We will be building campaigning activity up to and beyond the UCU anti-casualisation march on March 6th.
  • Stop cutting women out of education: We will be launching an action pack in January to enable students’ unions to identify and collect information on cuts to services and courses & build links with community groups, so that we can campaign to prevent and reverse them.
  • Shareholder activism training – why not come along on February 12th and get clued up on how to use innovative tactics to encourage your institution and companies to invest responsibly; in partnership with FairPensions, the campaign for responsible investment.
  • Postgraduate funding: Following the launch of our report outlining an alternative model for funding postgraduate education, we will be working to build support and launch a campaign to involve students in making postgraduate education more accessible and sustainable.
  • Stop and search – with the government having extended the stop and search powers for further education institutions, putting the welfare and rights of students at risk, we will be launching a campaign in January to reverse the changes at a national level and to support students and students’ unions to ensure their institutions do not adopt them.
  • Student carers research: We are launching the first ever comprehensive research focusing on student carers: a group of students who currently receive no financial support for their caring responsibilities. We will be running interviews and focus groups in January and February, so if you want to get involved, watch this space!
  • Out in education: As part of NUS’ project to support students in higher and further education to tackle homophobia in schools we will be launching a campaign in the New Year. More details to come soon.
  • Lad culture: NUS has commissioned a piece of independent research into lad culture on campus and the experience of women students. We’re looking forward to hearing the findings and supporting students and students’ unions to use the research to create change. Watch this space! Click here for more information.
  • All four liberation conferences: will be taking place from February to May, see NUS Connect for dates.

We will be in touch shortly with more information and opportunities to get involved in all of the upcoming campaigns. Do contact us on campaigns@nus.org.uk, if you have any questions. Educate, employ, empower!


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