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Update: 20 March 2020

NUS MEMBERSHIP UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) 20 March 2020

Our number one priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of the students and apprentices we represent, so we have been working closely with institutions, trade unions, national sector bodies like Universities UK and the Association of Colleges, the Student Loans Company, and the government to inform our response to Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Here’s an update of what we are doing on your behalf to ensure your interests are represented as we tackle this pandemic:

  • We met with the Department for Education to discuss a range of concerns around student finance this morning. It was a productive discussion and we are expecting some public announcements soon, which we will communicate to members. We will have ongoing dialogue with the Department. In addition, a further teleconference with the Student Loans Company has been arranged for next week

 

  • We met with UCAS to discuss the impact on the admissions cycle of the decision to cancel and postpone exams across the UK. Again, these discussions were very helpful and a further public announcement is anticipated shortly

 

  • We are meeting trade unions and professional bodies representing healthcare and teaching students to discuss the fast-tracking of final year healthcare students and the general impact on placement students of the current events

 

  • We will meet the Office for Students on Monday morning to discuss their response to the pandemic and interactions with the providers they regulate. We are happy to take concerns to OfS if members get in touch by emailing policy@nus.org.uk

 

  • NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe met with Scottish Government officials to discuss the impact of the virus situation on students. This meeting will now take place regularly

 

  • During the meeting the government made clear that 2019/20 bursary and loans would continue to be paid as planned. The Scottish Funding Council has instructed colleges to continue paying childcare costs until the end of the year. For the latest government updates visit their website

 

  • We’re also calling for any person whose income is impacted by Coronavirus have their rent and utility bills waived or significantly reduced for 6 months as this crisis continues. Liam also brought up the complex problems facing international students, and the government are actively aware and working on these issues

 

  • The Scottish Government urgently want feedback from students’ associations and institutions across Scotland about how their mental health and well-being services are coping in the current crisis. Please email your feedback by noon on Monday (23 March)

 

  • Liam will be holding weekly Skype meetings with all Scottish officers on Tuesdays at 2pm. These Skype calls are open to Presidents and Vice-Presidents, and we’ll also be inviting non-affiliate institutions.  Join the call here

 

 

  • NUS-USI President Robert Murtagh has written to the Northern Ireland Department for Communities asking whether students will be entitled to statutory sick pay and unemployment benefits, as well as a rent holiday and moratorium on evictions during this crisis.

 

 

 

 

  • We’re working on an advocacy piece with the policy team to ensure we’re writing to the treasury stressing the financial support SUs need as third sector bodies currently providing social cohesion (including not having to pay VAT retrospectively on their catering) and providing a template that SUs can use to write to their MPs with the same message

 

  • We’re hosting a weekly skype session for student officers to update you on what’s happening nationally. The session will also enable you to share what you’re doing with each other. The first meeting is Tuesday (24 March) at 1pm. Join the meeting via this link

 

  • Due to Covid-19 we are not currently accepting calls on our Membership support line. Please email membership@nus.org.uk and we will be happy to assist

 

  • We’re revising Learning Academy delivery so it can transition online

 

  • We’re progressing the research project with OneVoice – more coming on that next week

 

  • We’re reinvigorating the hashtag #LovesSUs (that’s #CaruUMau in Welsh) as a way for unions to share cool/funny/engaging/innovative updates

 

  • We’ve scheduled weekly lunchtime catch-ups, very informal, for CEOs. Email questions@nus.org.uk if they’d like to join.

 

 

 

National Conference will take place online on Tuesday 31 March and Wednesday 1 April. Officer elections will conclude on 31 March as planned and the rest of the business of conference will happen on 1 April. Delegates and senior students’ union staff will all be sent information direct tonight. Delegates and senior managers will also all be sent a Participation Guide next week that will contain everything they need to log-in, access the conference content, and cast their votes.

The eight policy proposals which came out at the top of the prioritisation exercise and will be discussed by conference are:

 

1. Priority Policy 2020: Building A Movement to Transform Education

2. Let’s end this mental health crisis together, once and for all.

3. Declaring a Climate Emergency - Green New Deal for FE and HE

4. International Students Support and Experience

5. Fire safety, late buildings, accessibility and affordability the need for a national student housing

6. Parity in Healthcare for Students!

7. Ending exploitation while studying

8. Ending Securitisation, Surveillance and Prevent

 

These policies can be accessed here.

 

Election Hustings videos are in the process of being uploaded to the hustings page on Connect so do take a look.

 

NUS Scotland conference took place yesterday online, having transferred to remote delivery with only 3 days notice. Whether you made it along or not, you can still vote on the policy submissions until noon on Monday 23 March.

 

You can submit a nomination form for the Scottish Steering Committee – also open until noon on Monday 23 March and you can sign up for Action Groups anytime.

 

Matt Crilly was also voted in as NUS Scotland President 2020/22. Look out for more on Matt soon.