Closer Working with Students’ Unions

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2016 Higher Education Service Group Conference
5 November 2015
Carried as Amended

Conference notes the vital importance of expanding the spirit and ethos of trade unionism amongst students. To this end, as a highly politically sensitive area of the union, we need to foster closer relations with students unions through the UK.

Students, as a group of ‘consumers’, need to realise that with increased tuition fees, they hold the whip hand and can place more pressure on universities to provide better services to them. Universities do not provide better services by paying their staff less than the Living Wage and cutting their numbers by using many years of severance and redundancies to squeeze more work out of us.

Many branches find that the potential threat of individual institutions withdrawing block grants from students’ unions (SUs) or restricting funding could repress SUs commenting on their own institution or engaging with unions in vital issues. This denies a voice to students from providing perfectly reasonable input, debate and oversight and stifles a vast tract of universities’ own ‘customers’ commenting on the standards of service that they have actually paid for. This is a dreadful method of supressing honest debate and one which should not continue. It could be seen as a form of market manipulation by some paranoid institutions which cannot stand any type of criticism, no matter how positive or well-meaning.

Conference calls on the National Higher Education Service Group Executive to request talks with National NUS to encourage practical ways of nurturing political debate that seeks to liberate SUs from the potential of manipulation by host institutions and the threat of block grant withdrawal.