Letter: False splitting image

July 27, 2001

Your leader ( THES , July 6) linked projected financial problems in the National Union of Students with the alleged behaviour of NUS officers four years ago in order to question the whole ethos of the student movement.

But huge changes have taken place in the NUS and in its campaigning. For example, we have had great success in getting top-up fees ruled out by the government, the Liberal Democrats and even by the Conservative Party, as well as achieving victories in the devolved assemblies so that students in Northern Ireland and Wales should soon get a grant as do students in Scotland.

As the first independent president in 30 years, I seek to unite the student movement. The financial report I put together with my presidential opponent, Helen Aspell, is an example of that positive change.

The NUS circulates budgets and estimates to more than 700 unions, all our finances are set by delegates at our national conference and we have one of the most open financial structures of any organisation in the UK.

The underlying reason for our current problem is that we have not increased affiliation fees in seven years - in effect a 20 per cent cut.

The NUS has also been affected by VAT status changes and cuts to student union block grants.

Most student unions are supportive of the NUS and I hope future coverage will be less sensationalist than your headlines suggest.

Owain James
National president, NUS

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