Five Ideas… ways you can shape NUS' work at National Conference

Friday 27-02-2015 - 14:57

NUS National Conference is the largest democratic gathering of students in the UK and is taking place this year on 21-23 April in Liverpool.

There are lots of ways to shape the work of NUS through our democratic procedures. Whether it’s your first time at National Conference or you’ve been a few times before, here are five ways in which you can shape our work.

1. Submit an amendment

Each year, Zone Committees submit proposals based around conversations that have happened at Zone Conference and on issues that have been coming up on campuses throughout the year. They submit a motion which covers what they think the zone should be working on for the year ahead and this is debated on Conference floor. (For example, this year’s motion from the Welfare Zone Committee focuses on improving student support services.)

Students’ unions are then able to submit amendments to these motions if they feel like it doesn’t cover an issue or they want to change what is being proposed by the Zone Committee. Students’ unions can submit an amendment before the deadline on Friday March 6 at 12 noon.

2. Submit an ordinary motion

Students’ unions are able to submit motions to be discussed at National Conference. If your motion passes, it will become policy of NUS for three years so it’s worth checking that there’s not already policy on that area of work. Students’ unions can submit up to 1,400 words of amendments and ordinary motions to National Conference.

Motions must be submitted through your union’s democratic structure. This could include a student council meeting, a referendum or a meeting of the Union’s Executive Committee. Once you’ve done this, you can submit ordinary motions to National Conference online before the deadline on Friday March 6 at 12 noon.

You can download our guide to submitting motions and amendments here.

3. Review NUS’ work

As well as motions debate, delegates have an important role in reviewing the work that NUS has done over the past year. During the course of National Conference, delegates will hear reports from the National Executive Council, the Trustee Board, the Chief Returning Officer (who reports on elections), Nominations Committee and the Democratic Procedures Committee. These reports will cover decisions that have been made throughout the year and is your opportunity to ask questions.

You’ll also hear accountability reports from the President and five Vice-Presidents on their work since the last conference. You’ll be able to ask questions and hold them to account. Officer reports can be downloaded now.

4. Look at our Estimates

As well as discussing motions about issues facing students, delegates will also be presented the Estimates for the year ahead and be asked to approve them. You can challenge the Estimates by submitting a motion before Friday 20 March stating which area you’d like to take money from and which area of NUS it should be put into.

The Estimates are presented during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) which takes place on the last day of Conference. During the AGM, you’ll also hear motions that wish to change the way NUS works such as revisions to the rules. These don’t have a word limit but have to be submitted in the same way as ordinary motions and amendments by Friday 6 March at 12 noon.

5. Register your place at National Conference

Don’t forget though, in order to shape our work at National Conference, you’ll need to register a delegation. Each students’ union has a delegate entitlement based on their student numbers. The cost for delegates attending the conference and staying in Liverpool is covered by NUS, but delegates will have to cover their own expenses and transport costs. If you’re not a delegate to National Conference, you can come as an observer (someone with speaking rights but not voting rights) or as a visitor (visitors have neither speaking nor voting rights).

Make sure you register online before the deadline on Wednesday 18 March!

If you have any questions about how to shape NUS’ work, more information can be found on the National Conference hub. Alternatively, you can contact


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