Affiliation battle brews over beer

November 26, 2004

A heady brew of beer and politics will decide the outcome of the referendum on whether Edinburgh University students reaffiliate to the National Union of Students.

The referendum, to be held on December 1 and 2, has divided students at Edinburgh on the economics of reaffiliation, with those in favour arguing that the NUS can get a better deal for students for a range of services, including cheap booze for union bars.

Those against want the Edinburgh University Students' Association to remain independent, arguing that the annual NUS subscription would be at least Pounds 50,000 and this could rise, outweighing any bulk-buying benefits.

Edinburgh students voted to disaffiliate from the NUS in 1979 over value for money and the politics of its leadership.

The Students Against NUS at Edinburgh (Sane) campaign argues that Eusa still offers a better deal for students.

Tim Goodwin, Sane president, said that overspending on administrative and training costs could take the annual cost of joining the NUS to some Pounds 95,000.

He said: "The money would have to be found from somewhere, and I expect, as a result, drinks prices would have to rise.

But Eusa's finance committee said that even taking the affiliation fee into account, Edinburgh stood to save £2,936 a year through joining NUS Services Ltd, the union's commercial arm.

Steve Cockburn, Eusa president, said he personally supported reaffiliation to the NUS.

He said: "The drinks themselves may not end up being much cheaper for the student, but the savings on purchasing them will pay for the affiliation fee."

Former conveners of the Coalition of Higher Education Students in Scotland (Chess) are also supporting the reaffiliation.

Dundee, Glasgow and St Andrews universities remain unaffiliated to NUS Scotland.

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