Following a student petition, Newcastle University Students’ Union is moving forward the next referendum on the SU’s affiliation with the National Union of Students (NUS) to this academic year.
The petition was started by Newcastle University student Matt Wilson-Boddy, who was also one of the Newcastle’s delegates to the NUS National Conference held two weeks ago. His petition reached over 300 signatures from Newcastle University students within 21 hours of being launched. This petition (which can be read in full at www.nusu.co.uk/petition) asks that NUSU brings forward the cross-campus referendum it holds every three years on NUS affiliation to be held as soon as possible. The petition cites increasing unhappiness with the NUS due to undemocratic processes and a “disregard of relevant student interests in favour of ineffective national campaigns based on party politics”.
The SU’s Constitution states that where a student petition asking for a referendum gathers 300 signatures and is delivered to the President, the SU is required to hold said referendum. There is a mandatory ten day minimum notice period to the student body of when voting will open on such a referendum. The referendum will be held to run alongside the upcoming elections for the Part-Time Officers (PTOs), which are taking place from 9-12 May.
Speaking exclusively to The Courier, Matt Wilson-Boddy commented: “I’m thrilled to see the petition hit 300, it’s a great opportunity for students at Newcastle to have their say on how they want their union to be run.
“I look forward to seeing the remain and leave campaigns form in the wake of this, and will be keeping a close eye on how things unfold.”
“I was elected on the mandate of transforming the NUS into a fighting democratic Union, opposing fee rises, grant cuts and other attacks to students’ quality of life. I no longer believe this is possible and hope that NUSU disaffiliates, using the £52,000 a year affiliation fee to fight its own campaigns on behalf of Newcastle students”
This petition follows a spate of discontent among SUs nationally. A series of campaigns have emerged in many SUs attempting to prompt their SUs into holding referendums on NUS membership.
So far, other SUs who have confirmed referendums on NUS disaffiliation include the Universities of Hull, Exeter, Lincoln, Loughborough and Oxford.