NUS votes for greater openness

March 26, 1999

The National Union of Students has voted to overhaul its organisation to try to make it more accountable.

If motions passed at this year's conference are ratified next year, regional conferences will be held twice a year, voting records of national executive members and the national council will be made public, and the union will be able to buy in help from consultants, lobbyists or other external firms.

The union's website and internal organisation will also be re-arranged to respond better to individual students, rather than student unions.

In addition, the post of vice-president, further education and union development, will be elected by NUS members in the further education sector, rather than by further and higher education members.

This development comes amid criticism from the Association of Colleges that the NUS is failing to do enough to help further education students.

An AoC spokeswoman said the union had not responded adequately to research showing that further education students were more likely than higher education students to experience financial difficulties.

Colleges, she said, could not afford to pay as much as universities for student representation, but this should not stop the NUS from helping them.

"If enough concern was expressed to us from student bodies, maybe we would want to think about trying to step in," she said. "Clearly something has to be done."

An NUS spokesman responded: "The AoC has done everything it can to restrict involvement of FE students. It doesn't fund them properly and doesn't give them the infrastructure to develop themselves. If the AoC got its way, and FE students did break away from the NUS, it would mean FE unions would be weakened. The only group to benefit would be the managements of FE colleges."

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