​A guide to the fringes at National Conference 2016

Friday 15-04-2016 - 15:26

Wondering what’s happening when we’re not debating motions, electing NUS’ leaders or hearing from inspiring keynote speakers on conference floor?  

During Conference there are a number of fringe events for delegates, observers and visitors to attend. Here’s some handy information about each fringe (please note: this schedule is subject to change, for the attest version, consult the Order Paper).

Jump to a particular fringe break:

Fringe Break 1 (Tuesday 19 April, 14.30pm – 15.30pm)



Who’s there?


We Want In

Last year National Conference passed to campaign for an In vote in the EU referendum and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Come and join our panel discussion where we’ll hear from Megan

Dunn –NUS National President, Fernando Galan - European

Students’ Union Chairperson, Sam Lowe – EU Policy Campaigner,

Friends of The Earth and others on why our membership of the EU

matters to students. Pick up campaigning resources, hear what

others are doing on their campuses and enjoy a Danish pastry or


Refreshments available.

Megan Dunn (NUS President), Abiodun Olatokun (Bite the Ballot),  Cabinet Office speaker, SU officers



learning - NUS


Has your course reinforced inequality? How can we liberate the

curriculum of vocational courses like woodwork or hairdressing?

One of the main work priorities for NUS Scotland this year has

been about radically changing how and what we are taught.

Participants will have the chance to explore how their courses

contribute or fight against structural oppression and will be given the tools to start making change in their college or university.

Emily Beever and Rob Henthorn

Syndicate 3

Quality SUs - Leeds University Union

At the end of this session, delegates will have a general understanding of the process of undergoing assessment for the Quality Students Unions Award. The joint perspectives of a sabbatical officer and Chief Executive will be put forward and delegates attending the session given the opportunity to consider the transformational change which can emerge from the adoption of the QSU Award.

Toke Dahler (Union Affairs Officer, LUU), Aidan (Grills Chief Executive, LUU) and Trustee of NUS Charitable Services

Meeting Room 1a

Nuclear 101: Winning the Debate at your SU

With the Main Gate decision on whether to replace Trident, Britain's nuclear weapons system, expected later this year and the projected cost in free fall, this event will cover the basic facts and most common arguments around Trident. As well as giving some background with general ideas and theories about nuclear weapons and war, we will focus in particular on the place of nuclear weapons in modern Britain and the arguments around jobs, cost, and global security, allowing you to take the debate back to your campus and argue for nuclear free future.

Josh Chown (Secretary, Youth and Student CND), Mark Soames (Chair, Youth and Student CND), Imran Damji-Laurenson (Vice Chair, Youth and Student CND), Ellie Kinney (Press Officer, Youth and Student CND), Fiona Edwards (Campaigns Officer, Youth and Student CND) and Ben Hayes  (Campaigns Officer, Youth and Student CND)

Syndicate 4

#FEunplugged - Don't let the Government pull the plug on Further Education

FE, HE and apprentice delegates are invited to learn about and take part in NUS's priority FE campaign this year, #FEunplugged. After years of drastic budget cuts, reforms, college closures and course cutbacks, Further Education is on life-support across all four UK nations. With further budget pressures in the devolved nations, and area based reviews in England, there's a real risk that the plug might be pulled on FE for good. Join us to get involved in the movement to defend further education and build a brighter future for learners.

Shakira Martin (NUS Vice President (Further Education))

Auditorium 2

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention: What do we know and what can we do?- NUS UK Disabled Students' Campaign

This session will present recent research on the state of student mental health in UK and break the silence around student suicide. We will explore both the educational and social environments that create and exacerbate mental health problems, the intersectional nature of the issue, as well as the squeeze to our public and campus services that are supposed to support us. We will introduce delegates to the newly published "Mental Health and Suicide Prevention: An In-Depth Guide for Students' Unions and Activists" and have copies available to take away.

Maddy Kirkman (NUS Disabled Students' Officer), Sally Thomas (NUS Policy Officer, Liberation), Shelly Asquith (NUS Vice President (Welfare)) and Aadam Muusa (NUS Black Students' Committee)

Syndicate 1

Renter activism (Welfare)

This session will be an interactive session focused on building renter activism campaigns. It will be an opportunity to hear from campaigners on how to work together to create change, as well as a chance to join up with other regional and national campaigns and learn more about how the private rented sector works and how the law operates.

Jenny Killin (Living Rent Campaign)

Syndicate 2

Making Student Engagement a Reality

(TBC) Aimed at delegates from Guild HE member students' unions but all welcome, this session will reflect on some of the student engagement practice drawing from Guild HE and TSEP's 2015 report 'Making Student Engagement a Reality'. The session will encourage delegates to consider good practice in taking the partnership agenda forward in their institutions and share with others this work

Rhys Wait, Project Officer - Guild HE Alex Bols, Deputy Chief Executive - Guild HE Maybe others TBC

Meeting Room 1b




Fringe Break 2 (Tuesday 19 April, 18.00pm – 18.45pm)



Who’s there?


Students Not Suspects: Preventing Prevent

The Counter Terrorism and Security Act introduced last year included a new Prevent duty which requires lecturers to monitor students who are suspected of engaging in ‘active opposition to fundamental British values’ and to police ‘extremist’ speakers and students on campus. The duty has been widely condemned for seeking to turn public sector workers into spies and for normalising Islamophobia. Over 450 academics, student officers and lawyers published a letter in The Guardian calling for the duty to be scrapped. This event will bring together students, campaigners and lawyers to discuss Prevent and opposition to it.

Malia Bouattia (NUS Black Students’ Officer), Hannah Dee (Defend the Right to Protest),  Rahman Mohammadi (school student victimised by prevent), Imran Khan (Imran Khan & Partners), Yusuf Hassan (FOSIS)

Syndicate 3

Nations Welcome Reception

If you've travelled across the UK from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and arrived in Brighton then you deserve a warm welcome. This reception is for all delegates from our devolved nations, come and meet your officers, come and meet each other. Wine, soft drinks and nibbles will be served.

Fernando M Galan (Chairperson of the European Students' Union), Kevin Donoghue and Anne Hoey (Union of Students in Ireland), Vonnie Sandlan (NUS Scotland President) Beth Button (NUS Wales President) and Fergal McFerran (NUS-USI President)


Is there a “problem with Jews” in the left?

In February the co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club resigned stating that the student left have “some kind of problem with Jews”. The continuous stream of stories related to antisemitism among individuals within the left since the resignation has shown that it is an issue that goes far beyond just Oxford and the student movement. Is there something unique about antisemitism among the left and is there more we should or could be doing to tackle it? Join UJS and a panel of exciting guest speakers as we explore this unfortunately topical question.

Wine and canapés provided.

Union of Jewish Students

Auditorium 2

Education in Crisis: How do we fight the education cuts and reforms?

Education is under attack. Further education is facing huge cuts, the government has just abolished maintenance grants for the million poorest students, and in the HE sector a set of reforms are currently going through parliament which will marketise education even further. With so much to campaign against, where do we start? How can we build effective opposition on campuses, in the streets and in wider society? What tactics might we use to challenge these attacks? From demonstrations and occupations, to a student strike, an NSS boycott and more, come and discuss how we fight back and win.

Speakers are yet to be confirmed but will be students already in attendance at NUS conference

Meeting Room 1a

TEF OFF - next steps for the Quality Doesn't Grow on Fees Campaign

The HE sector is facing some of the biggest reforms in decades. In particular it includes proposals to introduce a new "Teaching Excellence Framework" linked allowing universities to raise tuition fees.


We want to hear your thoughts and ideas about how we can, as a movement, build a campaign that fights against rising fees and HE reforms that will damage our education system. This session will be an interactive campaign planning discussion, and a conversation with everyone about what changes are happening in HE.

Sorana Vieru (NUS Vice President (Higher Education))

Syndicate 2

A seriously awkward age?

Find out how you can get involved in the Children's Society's Seriously Awkward Campaign)

It’s known as an awkward age, but the challenges are seriously awkward for a generation of vulnerable teenagers, falling between the cracks of childhood and adulthood. Vulnerable 16 and 17 year-olds are the worst affected; they are more likely to go missing, be victims of violent crime, and are a high risk group for sexual exploitation and domestic violence. Yet they are the least protected.


Help us change the law to protect 16 and 17 year-olds from harm, abuse and neglect.


Come along and find out more about the campaign, and get a bit of craftivism in as well!

Andy, Clare and Sarah (Campaigners for the Children's Society)

Syndicate 4

Love student opportunities, love students' unions

Fun, snacks, activities and craftivism to show love for student opportunities and students' unions, all to build the defense of our movement. We will have activity stations for making tattoos, colouring postcards, building sculptures and playing games. Plus special guests. Info will be available on the threats building up against students' unions and the ways we can fight back, including shouting about the positive differences we're making to students and society.

Richard Brooks, (NUS Vice President (Union Development))

Syndicate 1

A Shared Economy: Building more co-operative campuses

Student housing co-ops as an alternative to unscrupulous landlords, graduates forming worker co-ops to tackle low pay and unreliable work, and credit unions taking on high cost student loans. A new generation of co-operatives are being led by students and young people to challenge a broken economy.


What are the next steps and how do we build more co-operative campuses?

Stella Creasy (Labour & Cooperative MP for Walthamstow), and Claire McCarthy (General Secretary, Co-operative Party)

Meeting Room 1B

Fringe Break 2 (Wednesday 20 April, 21.30pm)

Informal President and Vice President hustings

Come and hear this year’s Full Time Officer candidates answer questions on why they deserve your vote.

Chief Returning Officer – Jules Mason

Auditorium 2



Fringe Break 3 (Wednesday 20 April, 13.00pm – 14.00pm)



Who’s there?


NUS at 100 - what should we achieve by 2022?

As part of Project100 NUS has consulted with stakeholders across the sector to identify what the student movement's big goals should be across the next six years. This session asks for delegate input into the new strategic framework for NUS, developing a clear vision of what the student movement might look like in 2022 when NUS reaches its centenary. We'll present our current thinking on a Theory of Change for the student movement and outline what the role of NUS might be in achieving our movement's goals.

Emily Thompson-Bell (Project Manager, Project100), Simon Blake (NUS CEO), Megan Dunn (NUS President) and Shakira Martin (NUS Vice President (Further Education)

Syndicate 4

Bite the ballot - Registering students to vote ahead of the EU Referendum and local elections

I will inspire Students' Union officers with my personal story of getting involved in #generationvote, to leading the National Voter Registration Drive.


I will also train delegates in making more persuasive and relevant pitches to students about registering to vote.


I will show delegates how to use the interactive democracy resources that Bite The Ballot has developed to secure a high student turnout in the EU referendum.

Abiodun Michael Olatokun (Campaigns Manager at Bite The Ballot)


How the society got its spots

The national society of apprentices has been working hard this year. With elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to get ready for we have written manifestos telling decision makers what apprentices want. Come along to this session to find out not only what we've been asking for but also how we came up with our manifesto asks. There will be sweeties, Brazilian theatre and NO FLIPCHART PAPER!


Members of the leadership team of NSoA

Auditorium 2

Liberate my Education - Talking Access, Attainment, and Curriculum

Our institutions – from Further to Higher education – rely on rigid curricula and assessment methods that privilege certain groups while shutting out those most marginalised: women, working class, disabled, LGBT+, Black students and those with caring responsibilities.


Black students are 16% less likely to achieve a first class degree than white students, while colleges are required by law to promote ‘British values’. Academic posts are still overwhelmingly secured by Oxbridge graduates and only 23 professors in the UK are Black women, out of more than 22000.


Join us for a discussion and strategising to liberate our education.

Malia Bouattia (NUS Black Students’ Officer), Sorana Vieru (NUS Vice President (Higher Education)), Shakira Martin (NUS Vice President (Further Education)) Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman PhD (Why is Curriculum White) and Akala (Artist - Writer - Historian)

Syndicate 1

International Activist Networks

This year the NUS International Students’ Campaign hosted its first series of International Activist Networks. This came as an effort to develop a tailored personal development model that engages with the lived experiences of international students in an environment where the experiences and issues of international students are not side-lined. Come along to hear more about the impact of these networks, and how you can contribute to building a national resilient international student’s movement.

Alaa Elaydi (NUS Policy Officer,  International) and Mostafa Rajaai (NUS International Students’ Officer)

Syndicate 3


The internet has transformed education, but social media can threaten our freedom to learn and become a breeding-ground for bullies. As leaders on campus, students’ union officers must encourage a more open and respectful debate and environment, clamping down on hate speech and calling out abuse and intimidation. NUS’ #AntisocialMedia campaign aims to challenge the abuse that is too often directed at officers and students on our campuses. It’s time to tackle the trolls. Come along and help NUS to shape this work.

Megan Dunn (NUS President),  Richard Brookes, (NUS Vice President (Union Development),  SU officers TBC

Syndicate 2

Working together to improve student mental health – NUS Scotland’s mental health projects

NUS Scotland has hosted a number of externally funded mental health projects over the past six years. Within these, activities have included initiatives aimed at improving student mental health and wellbeing, ending discrimination and stigma, developing better support services, and delivering training staff in mental health first aid and related topics. This session will provide an overview of some of these projects and activities, examples and case studies from universities, colleges and students’ associations, as well as an opportunity to ask questions and discuss how the learning and similar projects could be applied in your institution.

Laura Caven - Student Health Coordinator, NUS Scotland Kira Weir - Student Health Campaign Coordinator, NUS Scotland

Meeting Room 1A

Community Reinvest, NUS and People & Planet - Make FE and HE Fossil Free!

Fossil fuel companies commit human rights abuses around the world, and accelerate climate breakdown. That’s why we’re part of a global movement to take back their power. More and more institutions are taking the first step of pulling their investments out of fossil fuels. Now it’s time to support sustainable alternatives. How? We move £100million of fossil fuel money and pledge to have our education powered solely by renewables.

Dr. Jo Ram (Co-Founder and Director of Community Reinvest) and Naia Lopez (Fossil Free campaign coordinator at People and Planet)

Meeting Room 1B


Fringe Break 4 (Wednesday 20 April, 17.00pm – 18.00pm)



Who’s there?


Re-Imagining FE Students' Unions

FE Students' Associations and Students' Unions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have already confronted regionalisation, and now Area Reviews in England are challenging the current view of Learner Voice. Learning from the experiences of those who have already gone through radical change is an opportunity to reimagine and re-build strong, inclusive and sustainable students' unions.


This session will consider the role of student representation in college mergers and introduce the new Learner Voice Framework (England & Northern Ireland) alongside existing development frameworks (Wales & Scotland) under which students' unions can develop minimum standards of practice.

Jen Hope (NUS Development Manager), Derby College (tbc), Charlotte Lawley (NUS Scotland  Development Manager), Representative from a Scottish College (tbc),  Heather Ferguson & Jessica Rumble (Student Partnership Consultants, Wise Wales),  Representative from a Welsh College (tbc),  Fergal McFerrin (NUS-USI President),  Belfast Met SU (tbc)

Syndicate 2


An overview of and update on NUS' priority #CutTheCosts campaign. The fringe will showcase the local campaigning work SUs have been undertaking over the past year to cut the costs for students, from fairer fares and reasonable rents, to cheaper gym memberships and clarity on hidden course costs.

Megan Dunn (NUS President) and 3-4 SU officers tbc

Auditorium 2

"A Blueprint for Fairness"

“I want us to determine now that a child born today in one of our most deprived communities will, by the time he or she leaves school, have the same chance of going to university as a child born in one of our least deprived communities.” - Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, November 2014


This statement announced the Commission on Widening Access, chaired by Dame Ruth Silver, which published "A Blueprint for Fairness" this Spring. This fringe is a must for all interested in widening access & participation, to hear about the Commission's processes & conclusions.

Dame Ruth Silver (Commission on Widening Access) and Vonnie Sandlan (NUS Scotland President)

Syndicate 2

The Global threat to Education: Turning the Tide on TTIP and other Toxic Trade Deals

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a corporate power grab posing as a trade deal. It heralds new security for corporations as they spread their interests into every sector of society. The latest crop of trade deals provide corporations with the opportunity to sue governments should policy decisions in anyway harm future profits. The impact this will have on higher education could begin the destruction of state administered education and the advent of universities run by for-profit companies.

Nick Dearden, (Director, Global Justice Now), *Sally Hunt (General Secretary, UCU -  or another representative),  *Piers Telemacque (NUS Vice President (Society & Citizenship), *Aisling Lambert (Students Against TTIP - or another representative)


Syndicate 1

Refugees Welcome Here - Stand up to Racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and Fascism

To engage students in the anti-racist movement, particularly campaigns to welcome refugees, campaigns against Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. To help students campaign against racism on campus.

Diane Abbott MP, Owen Jones, Kate Osamor MP, Clive Lewis MP, Cat Smith MP, Talha Ahmad Muslim Council of Britain, Collette Levy, Maz Saleem, Akala, Shakira Martin, Barbara Ntumy, Weyman Bennett and Sabby Dhalu


Hope not Hate

A group discussion hosted by Owen Jones from HOPE not hate. Although the far-right is at its smallest, it has become more violent and dangerous. Coupled with the huge rise in support for populous parties, it is evermore important for students to take a stand against racism and offer HOPE over fear to vulnerable communities.

Owen Jones and Jo Hiley

Syndicate 4

Why our movement should be 100% Fairtrade

Fairtrade isn't just a good thing to do. It shares the values we hold as a movement, and delivers the same things we campaign on every day. Fair pay, gender equality, access to education, healthy communities. All of these things are a massive part of the Fairtrade mission. That's why our unions should be 100% Fairtrade.


Come to this fringe to listen to officers who have seen the benefits of Fairtrade first hand, through the work carried out by our ethical clothing company Epona. Together, we'll make a plan to go 100% Fairtrade as a movement.

Tom Andrews (Epona Managing Director) and  Richard Brooks ( NUS Vice President (Union Development

Meeting Room 1A

Fighting for free education - no to cuts and privatisation

The Tory government is making huge cuts to education, healthcare and all our public services. Poverty and inequality are on the rise whilst the rich are getting richer.


But there is an alternative to austerity: investment in jobs, public services, education and a new green economy.


Come and join the Student Assembly Against Austerity to discuss how we can build the movement to end austerity and transform society.

People's Assembly Against Austerity, Stop The War Coalition, #BursaryOrBust Campaign and NUS Vice Presidents

Meeting Room 1B


Fringe Break 5 (Wednesday 20 April, 20.30pm – 21.30pm)



Who’s there?


The Annual NUS Staff Trade Union Fun Fringe Bonanza

Come and celebrate of trade unionism hosted by the NUS staff, who will be showcasing their wonderful array of fantastic talents. As is traditional, the newly elected National President will make their first address.


Refreshments will be provided.

Newly Elected NUS President







Not in Brighton for National Conference? Watch our live stream on NUS Connect and follow the action on Twitter using the #NUSconference hashtag.



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