Newcastle University Students’ Union becomes second to disaffiliate from the NUS in a week

NUSU president hopes NUS will 'acknowledge their shortcomings and work to become the national union students deserve and can identify with'

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Thursday 12 May 2016 17:11 BST
Newcastle University Students' Union, pictured (via Facebook)
Newcastle University Students' Union, pictured (via Facebook)

Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU) has become the second to announce it is to disaffiliate from the National Union of Students (NUS) following a controversial National Conference in Brighton last month.

The move has come as a double blow for the national student campaigner after Lincoln University announced on Monday it, too, will be breaking away from the NUS at the end of the year.

NUSU confirmed on Thursday that 1,469 total votes had been cast in the referendum by Newcastle University students, with a majority of 67 per cent voting in favour of disaffiliation.

NUS’s annual National Conference was steeped in controversy with particular discord being felt over the election of the new national president, Malia Bouattia, who faced allegations of anti-Semitism. Ms Bouattia, though, has strongly denied the claims.

Politicians, too, criticised delegates for presenting arguments against commemorating the Holocaust during a debate.

Dominic Fearon, NUSU president, said it was clear Newcastle students felt the NUS “no longer represents their views, does not prioritise correctly, and is not effective at achieving change.”

He continued: “The current discontent amongst students, nationally, can be measured in the number of unions considering holding referenda on their membership. We hope the NUS will acknowledge their shortcomings and will work to become the national union that students deserve and can identify with.”

Malia Bouattia interview

Mr Fearon described how “the warning signs were there last year” when the president of NUSU - along with 12 other presidents - signed an open letter calling for reform in NUS. “This,” he said, “fell on deaf ears.

“It is not clear at this stage whether all signatories of the letter will be holding similar affiliation referenda. We feel, at this point in time, all students should be given a chance to have their voices heard.”

Megan Dunn, current NUS National President, said the campaigner was “disappointed” to learn NUSU had voted to leave, particularly at a time when further education is under attack and higher education is facing “what could be its biggest overhaul for decades.”

She added: “We firmly believe the best way to change something is from the inside and NUS is already working on a new democratic structure to be voted in at our National Conference in 2017.

“This year NUSU generated about £19,000 through NUS Extra card sales, and made a profit of about £68,000 - thanks to NUS affiliation - all of which is invested into student services.

“NUSU will always be welcomed back should students wish to affiliate again.”

The University of Exeter is due to announce the results of its referendum on Friday at 9am.

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