A campaign has been launched by several members of the SU Exec which could see Nottingham potentially disaffiliated from the National Union of Students.
Inter-site Officer Ed Keene and Equal Opportunities Officer Matt Gayle challenged proposals to re-adopt Nottingham’s affiliation to the NUS at the last Student Council meeting, in what Democracy and Communications Officer Ian Wiggins called, ‘a total abuse of Council’. The members of Council voted to lay the issue on the table until the next Council meeting, to avoid being locked in a fierce debate about the pros and cons of NUS until long into the night.
Wiggins told Impact: “If there was a No vote at council, we would not automatically be disaffiliated.” Wiggins stated that the Higher Education Act meant that a campus-wide referendum would have to be called before the Exec could seriously consider disaffiliation. This was refuted by Matt Gayle, who claimed a referendum would not be necessary. Gayle commented: “I’m not against a referendum but it needs to be a fair referendum. At many other universities that have tried to disaffiliate… the university is descended on by… lots of pro-NUS propaganda and students are left without a balanced argument”.
Gayle claims that the NUS fail to represent students nationally and are run by self-motivated graduates, who are out of touch with student issues. Gayle told us ‘77% of our members were against the AUT strike. The National Executive [of the NUS] knew this and they were in favour of the AUT strike”. Gayle added “The main point of the argument is that what the NUS is meant to do, represent students, give students a national voice on student issues, it doesn’t do that”. However, Wiggins is doubtful about Nottingham’s ability to represent its views nationally if we were to disaffiliate: “The government will listen to a national union not a single union. We are stronger together as a national collective voice. All of NUS’ successes that they’ve had in government show that.”
There is a growing trend in NUS disaffiliation. Glasgow, Southampton, Imperial and Edinburgh are among the universities currently disaffiliated. This may suggest that Nottingham University parting ways with the NUS is not as unlikely as it may first appear. Gayle sees it as a definite possibility “We need support on a number of levels, it’s something we have the potential to make happen, we certainly have the brain power, whether or not we have the will, I don’t know.” However with a large proportion of the SU Exec poised to passionately defend the NUS, it will be interesting to witness the outcome of this highly controversial debate when the Council next meet on the 16th November