UCL to hold an NUS Referendum

Students at University College London will vote on the future of university’s affiliation with the NUS. Voting began on 18th October and will run until the 25th.

The National Union of Students, has more than 600 students’ unions as affiliated members and represents 7 million students. It runs student-focused campaigns, lobbies the government on national student issues and mark themselves as ‘the national voice of students’.

However, there has been a recent rise in the number of NUS referendums at universities across the country.

Around 16 NUS referendums took place in 2016 alone. Although the majority voted to remain, Newcastle University, Hull University and Loughborough University voted to disaffiliate.

Earlier this year, the University of Surrey and the University of Essex also voted to leave. The University of Lincoln, despite being the first of the universities to vote to leave, re-affiliated after just five months.

Her comments being described as “outright racism” by some MPs.

The referendums were sparked over the controversial comments made by then NUS President, Malia Bouattai. In a co-authored blog post, Bouattia wrote: “The University of Birmingham is something of a Zionist outpost in British Higher Education. It also has the largest JSoc [Jewish Society] in the country whose leadership is dominated by Zionist activists.”

This received widespread criticism on the grounds of antisemitism, with her comments being described as “outright racism” by some MPs.

There have also been concerns over the governance of the NUS, the various political factions within it and other issues like membership fees. Since then, Bouattia was not successful in her second presidential campaign, with Shakira Martin taking over as NUS President after the 2017 NUS Conference.

An official statement from the Remain campaign said:

“We’ve never been closer to scrapping fees and making universities accessible to everyone. At such a vital moment, we can’t lose our voice in our union… We can’t defend education and win better rights without collective power.”

The campaign also addressed the concerns over NUS governance:

“NUS should be doing much more to help us stand up for improving education. But UCL shouldn’t walk away. Instead, it’s up to us to push NUS forward, by building grassroots campaigns and using our voice as members to demand it steps up its game.”

The Leave campaign was reached out to for comment by London Student but has not replied.

UCL students can vote for the university to LEAVE or REMAIN as a member of the NUS. The results will be announced on the 25th October.

More information as well as details on how to vote can be found here.

Politics student at the University of Surrey. I do some reporting and writing for London Student. Follow me on twitter: @AkanshyaG

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