It is good news for students that the National Union of Students is rejoining the real world. For 20 years, the NUS has been more of a talking shop than an effective campaigning organisation for students, consumed with internal debates and dominated by the hard left. But now that its president, Wes Streeting, has secured reform of its constitution and democratic processes (see story on opposite page), it should represent undergraduates and postgraduates better and be more in touch with local student unions.
Students are older than they used to be on average, and postgraduate numbers have been booming. That means their needs are changing. In a recent survey of its members, the NUS found that they cared more about study spaces than about getting drunk in the campus bar.
Streeting knows that the union lives or dies by how it responds to its members' needs – as did his predecessor Gemma Tumelty, who prepared the ground for the reforms but was defeated on them first time round. The NUS will still be passing idealistic motions about Palestine, but it should now be taken more seriously on issues such as student finance, top-up fees and the funding of higher education generally.
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