Leader: Disoriented NUS may benefit from upheaval

July 6, 2001

A financial crisis at the National Union of Students and poor management at Swansea's student union raise the question of what student unionism is for, locally and nationally.

The growth of further and higher education means that student unions have more people to represent than ever, yet they seem to have less clout. The NUS was not only unable to prevent the abolition of grants and the introduction of fees and loans, its leaders actively colluded with the Labour Party over the grants policy. At a local level, it is all too rare for students with problems to see their union as a first port of call. At national level, the NUS's main achievement seems to be as a nursery for Labour politicians, valuable no doubt but not a use of public money most taxpayers would endorse.

If the result of the upheavals is a student organisation that better represents its members, it will be worth the pain.

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