International Day of the Student: Town Hall Meetings Toolkit
For 80 years, the 17th November has been a day when the contribution of students to the world around them has been marked. Now we face a Westminster government that ignores students, and a media that tries to scapegoat us for a second wave.
Your last chance to get money in students’ pockets this term!
The government’s spending review is taking place in less than two weeks. This will be the key chance to secure a student support package. So we need your help to influence MPs and make sure that they advocate for students to the government, and lobby the Treasury.
Join our week of action by holding a town hall meeting (International Day of the Student). Invite your local MP along to hear from your students about why they need support now!
Once your MP has attended make sure that they commit to supporting students by –
- Write to the Treasury to call for more funding to support students as part of the Spending Review
- Contact local unis/accommodation providers on students being let out of tenancy contracts.
- Table questions on support for students ahead of Education oral parliamentary questions.
- Share SDB messaging/graphics on socials
Get your local MP to support the campaign before the spending review to help us win more funding for students!
Why organise a Town Hall?
We have to make too much noise to be ignored. Students’ stories are our most powerful weapon, and that’s why we’re asking SU officers and student activists to take part in the #StudentsDeserveBetter campaign by organising mass online Town Hall meetings, for students to tell their stories direct to politicians and representatives, and ask for them to advocate for us nationally.
This toolkit should give you everything you need to do just that.
Organising your event
Promoting your event
Here’s a list of things to think about so that you are ready to go ahead with your event. We’ve linked to a lot of resources throughout this page, and through all of them we’ve highlighted parts you will need to customize in yellow.
Can you make it work on November 17th? If your representative isn’t available, can they do that week?
What time will your event be?
Are you able to team up with another uni or college in your area? This is especially true if you are an HE Union with an FE Union nearby – one of the things the Day of the Student celebrates is how we work together.
Have you found your local politicians’ contact details and invited them? You can use these websites to get them, and our template invite.
Do students know about your event? Use our social media assets to advertise, and tell us about it so that we can promote too!
Are students prepared to speak in front of MPs? You can share our participation guide ahead of time with them, and you might want to ask them for specific themes to their stories.
Which representative do you want to invite? If you live Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you have to decide if you want to invite just one representative or multiple. You may be forced to go with a second choice, especially if one of your representatives holds a busy Government job. It’s best to invite more, but do change the template invite to make clear others have been invited as well.
What tech are you going to use to run the event?
Have you got a way for attendees to register, so that you can send them the link and keep in touch with them afterwards?
Are you going to ask students to send their stories in in advance, so that you can curate the speakers, or keep the meeting open?
Have you read the safeguarding notes, to make sure you can create a space where everyone is supported to share their stories and experiences?
Are you all sorted to chair the event? Do you have the agenda, potentially a list of students to call on, and know how the tech will work?
Finding your representative
If you’re unsure how your representative is, you can find them using these links:
NI Legislative Assembly
Contacting your representative
If you don’t want to email them, you can send a message to your representative directly, you can use Write to Them. This also has a postcode search which allows you write directly to multiple members if you have regional and constituency representatives (e.g an MLA and an MP in Northern Ireland).
Politics Socials is a tool to find your MPs on Twitter – once you’ve emailed them directly, publicise the fact that you’ve asked them and they’re more likely to come!
Template Agenda: What to Discuss
You’ll need to set an agenda before you meet, just to make sure everything gets discussed. We’ve prepared a template agenda for you to customise and make your own, which covers:
Introduction to the campaign
Questions to and from the representatives
What’s next: what do you need from the representatives?
What to ask politicians for
It’s really important that we make sure the MPs and representatives in the room commit to action after hearing from your students. Here are some suggestions of things to ask them for:
Write to the Ministers is charge of the Economy, the Treasury and Health, in Westminster or in devolved governments. The priority is to ask for a national strategy for safe travel and return during and after Winter closures, and for immediate, targeted financial aid for students if this has not already been provided.
Promoting your event
There are four quick ways to promote your event:
1. Tell us about it! We will promote all the events we hear about on our socials and directly to students
2. Send a mass email to all of your students. We know this is what gets people there! But you can also target particular halls or course groups you know have been impacted.
3. Promote your event on social media. We’ve got digital assets you can customise to download.
4. Email local journalists and invite them along. You can use a template press release here, and adapt it for what’s going on where you are. If you’d like a quote from one of NUS’ officers, just email firstname.lastname@example.org!
This campaign action is all about students sharing their stories with politicians to persuade them to act for us. It’s vital everyone feels that the environment is safe to be able to do that.
Sharing your story guide
Here’s a guide to help students prepare to share their stories in front of politicians, and it includes space for you to add signposts to any welfare support you might provide, such as a separate virtual welfare room, or links to other services.
If students are sharing very personal experiences, they might need a bit of welfare support or directing to services that you recommend. We’ve made some notes here of provisions that you might want to make to ensure that everyone is supported to be heard. You should also make sure any existing Codes of Conduct for online events are publicised.
Tell us how it went!
We are really keen to hear about how your event went – who came, how many students were there, what were the issues that they raised? Were the politicians friendly? Let us know how it went, and we will be in touch to schedule a debrief for all of the event organisers so we can compare notes. When you’re sharing how it went on your own socials, don’t forget to tag us on Twitter at @nusuk, Insta at @nus_uk or TikTok at @nationalunionofstudents and use #StudentsDeserveBetter!