National Conference 2017: the highlights

Friday 28-04-2017 - 14:18

As the dust settles on another National Conference, we’ve cherry picked some of the many takeaways from past week - which saw student leaders from across the UK journey to Brighton to set NUS policy and elect their national student representatives for the year ahead.

With over 1,200 delegates descending on the south coast, National Conference was again the largest democratic gathering of students in the world.

Here’s a roundup of the highlights…

1. You elected your new leadership

On Wednesday, conference elected our President and five Vice Presidents. Congratulations to Shakira Martin, Amatey Doku, Emily Chapman, Ali Milani, Rob Young and Izzy Lenga on being elected into their positions and thanks to all other candidates who stood in this year’s election!  

Our new officers will begin their terms on 1 July 2017.

2. The HE Bill passed through Parliament

While Conference was passing policy, so was Parliament. The Higher Education and Research Bill passed through the House of Lords for the final time - marking the end of nearly two years of work from the student movement; lobbying, engaging and challenging the government at every stage.

There’s still work to be done, and the Bill is not perfect, but our collective action has won key concessions. You can read more about the Bill here.

3. It was e-motional

This year, National Conference underpinned its reputation as the largest democratic gathering in the world as students discussed a record-breaking number of motions.

4. Education should be liberated and progressive

The priority motion saw delegates mandated NUS to campaign for a liberated and progressive education system, campaigning for better and fairer funding for further and higher education students, tackling the student mental health crisis, creating local hate crime reporting centres and look at what support is given to survivors of sexual assault on campus.

5. We want students to get out the vote and demand change

In light of last week’s General Election announcement, delegates have voted on an emergency motion calling on NUS to deliver its biggest voter registration drive in history, whilst putting forward clear demands to all political parties.

6. Students deserve more on mental health

Student mental health took centre stage during Welfare Zone. With the issue fully in the spotlight in both higher and further education, delegates voted to conduct research exploring the link between financial hardship, debt and mental health.

Additionally delegates wanted to see SUs challenge institutions to evaluate the impact of their policies and rules on students with mental health issues and for mental health first aider schemes to be rolled out across students’ unions.

7. More say for Apprentices

In further education, students voted to continue to work with the Department for Education and the National Society of Apprentices to make sure learner’s needs are heard as the government rolls out the Post 16 Skills Plan - the most comprehensive set of changes to further education in decades.

Additionally, Conference voted to campaign for better bargaining rights for apprentices, to make sure that when training providers close, apprentices are protected as both learners and workers.

Alongside this, delegates reaffirmed their commitment to lobby for impartial, quality careers information, advice and guidance as the government drags its heels releasing its long overdue Careers Strategy.

8. The keynotes who moved us

Our delegates heard from High-profile figures from the UCU and Black Lives Matter as well as an award-winning filmmaker and the student activist behind the #BursaryOrBust campaign during day one.

You can recap on their speeches checking out our YouTube playlist and watch our interviews with Sally Hunt, Ahmad Al-Rashid and Prentis Hemphill below.

9. The AGM

During the Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, motions on corporate governance reform, democratic governance reform and membership contribution were all passed. More information on next steps for NUS and SUs will follow soon.

10. Malia brought Conference to a close

Finally, our National President Malia Bouattia gave her closing remarks to Conference before delegates made their way back home, which you can watch below.

Next week, we’ll be announcing the results of our Block of 15, Democratic Procedures Committee and Student Directors elections. We’ll also be pulling together more information on the motions which passed and next steps for NUS and SUs.

Want to recap on National Conference? Check out our playlist on YouTube, our jam-packed news coverage on NUS Connect and look back on tweets via the #NUSNC17 hashtag.



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