NUS Conference 2017: Day one round-up

Developments on first day of conference:

  • Speeches from a founder of Black Lives Matter, and a Syrian refugee, along with a clip demonstrating the dangers refugees face in travelling to the West.
  • Delegates voted to educate and mobilise around the general election, register voters, educate students on key issues and pressure politicians (with an amendment demanding that the NUS is not to be “partisan or divisive”).
  • Voted to oppose Teaching Excellence Framework and its link to tuition fee increases, as well as the marketisation of education in general. Amendment to “encourage and support student unions and activist groups resisting the TEF and the wider HE reforms “by any means necessary including direct action” – fell. Amendment to lobby for a supposedly fairer/better metric standard of teaching excellence – passed.
  • Motions condemning cuts to Further Education and FE services pass, with resolve passed to note corporations, military involvement in colleges.
  • Motion passed condemning the view of students as consumers, and rejecting the way that the “partnership” between SUs and university management has been used to suppress student struggle, but with amendment to “embrace elements of students as consumers agenda” thereby wrecking the meaning of the original motion, introducing grounds for concessions.
  • Motion passed supporting free education – condemning all marketisation, fees, cuts, privatisation, and noting unreasonable costs of living/housing. Motion opposed reintroduction of EMA, and called for abolition of debt, as well as advocating a ‘liberated curriculum’, and work with allies in union movement. Further called for democratic control of education by workers and students. Amendment passed to support Goldsmith’s fee strike over social work bursaries and introduction of surprise fees. Amendment passed to “raise voices” against tuition fees – watering down position for sake of being “realistic”, and pursuing free education by lobbying and working with government etc. There have been several contradictory positions passed today.
  • Many important debates, including over the NSS boycott and national demos, where not had due to time constraints.
  • Motion calling for greater political education for students to increase political power of students passed but an amendment drawing attention to class, capitalism, oppression, and the importance of struggle, and history of struggle, direct action etc. in political education – fell.
  • Pointless debate about a vacuous policy to mandate an officer tweets #LoveSU every week – using SU positivity to magically increase engagement – fell.
  • Stand-put speech against the notion that NUS can represent what students by being apolitical – focused on the plight of disabled students and Tory cuts/attacks on the education sector.
  • Motion to make NUS impartial, non-political and non-partisan – fell.