Society and Citizenship | Zones Conference 2017

Society and Citizenship is one of the 5 areas of focus at Zones Conference, there will be a total of 4 sessions plus accountability.  Please note: regsitration closes 12pm Monday 9 October, sign up now Your Society and Citizenship session tasters can be found below, see the full agenda for running order of the whole conference.

The Last Straw

Speaker: Charlotte Bonner / NUS Sustainability Team     

This session will consult with you on campaign plans for 2018 which will put students at the heart of the campaign tackling single-use straws and coffee cups.

Around 2.5 billion coffee cups are used in the UK every year, with only 1 in 400 being recycled. About 150 million of these cups are given out on campuses. Many of these cups become litter on campus and in the wider community. Plastic straws are used on average for 20 minutes and yet take up to 500 years to decompose. There’s been a lot of media interest in tackling single-use items going to landfill, but little action to date on campuses.

How do we incentivise reusable alternatives, influence behaviours and market the campaign? We need your input on how we make this happen.                  



Speaker: Liam McCafferty

This session will be firstly aiming to address two questions: Why votes at 16, and why now? Secondly, it will provide an opportunity to creatively input into our campaign plans for the year ahead.

We currently live in a society where the rights of our young people are decided by a postcode lottery. If you turn 16 in Scotland, you can vote for your representatives in the Scottish parliament, but not for the government in Westminster. If you live in other parts of the UK you don’t get to vote at all. This year, there will be two attempts to lower the voting age through parliament. This provides us with a renewed opportunity to make the case for Votes at 16 and perhaps secure a legislative change once and all.

Learning Objectives:

• To understand the parliamentary process for legislative change and how students’ unions can influence it.

• To discuss NUS’ plans for the year ahead and how students’ unions can contribute to creating an impactful and effective campaign.

• To learn about the new NUS toolkit and how it can be used effectively to build pressure for Votes at 16 at a grassroots level.


Living Wage

Speakers: Rob Young and Living Wage Foundation

In this session we will learn more about the living wage campaign and explore the ways in which students’ unions can campaign for the living wage for all workers on their campus.

Some people still believe that the living wage – a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work – is a radical concept. It really isn’t. Yet for too many people in the UK and across the globe, low pay and exploitation is still a fact of life. For too many of our members, student support is inadequate as it is; low pay makes that struggle even worse. The Living Wage campaign is about the right of individuals to live without fear of destitution. Over the past 20 years, living wage campaigns have got £70 million into the pockets of some of the most vulnerable in society and lifted 10,000 people out of poverty. Within our universities and students’ unions we should be ensuring that we are paying the living wage, as public money should not be used to prop up poverty pay. We should be an example to the rest of society when it comes to workers’ rights and fair pay.


Equal Access

Speaker: Student Action for Refugees (STAR)

NUS and STAR are campaigning together to open colleges and universities to those seeking refugee protection in the UK. In this session you can learn more about the Equal Access campaign and how you can get involved.

Individuals who are waiting for a decision on their asylum application or who have been granted Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave to Remain (DLR) in the UK as a result of an asylum claim do not have equal access to university. They must pay the same fees as international students and have no access to student loans and grants. This excludes most from continuing on to higher education. As a student network, STAR believes that this is wrong and that colleges and universities should have fair admissions policies for all.

NUS and STAR are campaigning together to open colleges and universities to those seeking refugee protection in the UK. We want universities to:

• Classify all those seeking asylum as home students for fee purposes

• Offer at least 10 scholarships that cover study and maintenance costs for people who have come to the UK seeking refugee protection

• Publicise their Equal Access policies so that potential students can easily apply


Society and Citizenship accountability will take place on day 1 at 3.10pm.

Registration for Zones conference will close at 12pm Monday 9 October, sign up now. Already registered? Let us know #MyZones