How SUs can change the world #NUSStudentsUnions

Wednesday 20-06-2018 - 11:59

The countdown has begun! Only 13 more days to go ‘til #NUSStudentsUnions. We caught up with NUS Vice President (Union Development) Ali Milani to get the inside scoop. Read on to hear Ali Milani’s take on why this event is so special, what networking can do for you, and how students’ unions are changing the world, one campus at a time…

Above: Ali Milani, Vice President (Union Development)

NUS has a lot of events! What’s special about #NUSStudentsUnions?

#NUSStudentsUnions is unique. Staff and officers meet to learn, be inspired, share ideas – even steal ideas to implement on their campuses! It’s different to other NUS democratic events as the days act as a shared space where everyone can come together. You really go away from Students’ Unions buzzing, and that’s what sets it apart from the rest. As it doesn't feature any of the democracy or policy, it’s truly about coming together and being inspired, and then taking that inspiration and buzz back to your own campuses.

How has your understanding of SUs evolved over the past year as Vice President (Union Development)?

Looking back 12 months on, my overall hopes for the movement haven’t changed. I still think that there is a critical question of our time – and students’ unions are best placed to answer it. I still think that we work best when we work together, and I still believe that there is a common purpose and values amongst all SUs.  

What has changed though, is my better understanding of what students’ unions do for students. I have a much better appreciation about the sheer breadth of work that gets done at local students’ unions. By having this insight, I'm probably more excited now than I was 12 months ago about the opportunities that exists through SUs.

How are students’ unions changing the wider world?

SUs have a really unique opportunity to change the lives of individuals and wider society more broadly. At your students’ union, you have the chance to run campaigns that really penetrate social barriers of what “normal” is. A lot of the liberation conversations, discussions around education funding, and work around social justice actually starts on campus. Students’ unions are where these pieces of work began, and from there it penetrates into the mainstream. We then see mainstream politics following suit. 

You’ll also see how much impact students’ unions have on the lives of individual students. For example, you’ll see the work a Welfare Officer will do to support a student not to drop out of education. Their work will mean that this student will go on to change the world around them. If you look at it in the long term, students’ unions are probably having more impact in the world than any other single organisation in the UK.

#NUSStudentsUnions is a big event. Do you have any tips or advice for first timers?

Don't end the day having spoken to any less than ten people that you don't know. Get people's email addresses, phone numbers, and just get to know people you haven’t met before. Once you arrive at #NUSStudentsUnions, separate yourself off from the rest of the SU – don’t worry, you'll get to spend the rest of the year with the people from your students’ union and you'll see your Chief Exec's face every day! Go and meet new people. If you're at lunch, dinner, or even a break in between workshops, go and chat to someone who's from another students’ union. In this world, networks rule. So the bigger your network, the more opportunities and ideas you’ll have.

Want to find out more? Check out the #NUSStudentsUnions hub here.


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