NUS MEMBERSHIP UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) 27 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:
- Housing has been a key piece of work for NUS UK this week, including a meeting with the Department for Education and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. We used these meetings to raise concerns about student renters using the five demands we published on Monday. We especially emphasised that the measures introduced by government so far will not support renters adequately, and we will continue that dialogue
- We developed this work further today with VP Welfare Eva Crossan Jory writing to Universities UK and landlords’ representatives to ask for them to work to support student renters. We’ve published and press released the three open letters to Universities UK; British Property Federation; and the National Landlords Association and Residential Landlords Association and you’ll find them here
- We’re working with Student Minds to consider how the changing circumstances are likely to impact on students' mental health beyond the next few days, and considering how to increase support to members, in particular students’ union officers
- The Minister for Universities asked us to publish a letter to HE students today which you’ll find on NUS.org.uk. We’ve published a response to the letter as there’s still more work to be done by government.
- We’ve launched the #NotStayingNotPaying campaign, calling for all students who wish to leave their accommodation as a result of Covid-19 to be allowed to so without penalties. We’re also calling for guarantees of service and support for those students who can’t leave their accommodation
- EIS FELA trade union is campaigning to support staff threatened with redundancy at Forth Valley College, with support from the local students’ association. They have a petition you can sign, and on Wednesday 1 April they’ll be holding an online demo and asking for student support – follow @NUSScotland on Twitter for joining details next week.
- Today we’ve been lobbying the Welsh Government’s Education department on issues around student accommodation, taking part in a weekly housing sector conference call with the Welsh government, and liaising with HEFCW on issues around academic issues and welfare support for students.
- We launched our Coronavirus Student Survey today and need your help with its promotion. The survey will run until Friday 3 April and we need as many students as possible taking part. You’ll find your survey promotion pack here, with links, suggested email, SMS and social copy and images you can use too. Please get this out across your channels asap
- We’ve approached SUSS to ask what options there might be to assist members in these challenging times. The criteria for payment holidays etc are quite restrictive and it would be useful for us to understand the position of members before officially approaching the trustees as the principal employer with a request. We’ll be holding a Skype call on the matter at 1:00pm on Thursday 2 April. You can join the call here
- Don’t forget to use the template letters we’ve provided to send a message to your MPs about the financial situation students’ unions find themselves in. You can use this opportunity to highlight the shift in interpretation of HMRC guidelines. See the templates here. We will be publishing guidance for SUs shortly to submit Freedom of Information requests to HMRC on historical VAT charges relating to catering provided in SU bars
- We’ve posted the notes from the Officer Skype meeting earlier this week attended by 150 officers across the country. You’ll also find the officer update presentation. See you next Tuesday for the next update.
- NUS-USI Conference is moving online! This conference is taking place on Tuesday 21 April so please block this out in your diaries. More details to follow next week
- Voting for your next NUS-USI President is NOW OPEN. If you are a registered delegate for NUS-USI Conference, please be sure to check your emails from NUS as they contain an access link for the voting website. Voting will close at 1.30pm on Tuesday 21 April
- NUS Scotland Awards will take place online on Thursday 9 April, from 10.00am – 12.30pm. The Awards usually take place at NUS Scotland Conference, but due to #NUSSCOT20 also taking place online, this wasn’t possible. But all those shortlisted will be pleased to know that if they tune into @NUSScotland on Twitter on 9 April they can hear Liam announce the winners!
- And last but not least, NUS National Conference will take place online on Tuesday 31 March and Wednesday 1 April. Over 36% of votes have been cast for our new national officers and we’ll find out the winners on Wednesday.