Union ructions

August 13, 1999

I read with interest the article about Southampton University students' decision to cease their affiliation to the National Union of Students ("Row erupts over vote to break from NUS", THES, July 30).

I was both mildly amused and somewhat dismayed by the NUS's viewpoint, given by an unnamed spokesperson, that it was unfair for a group of students from the university to decide to cease affiliation, yet perfectly acceptable for Alex Bols (Southampton's former union president who now sits on the NUS executive) to take the solitary decision that the university's student union should spend another Pounds 64,000 on a year's affiliation. It is yet another example of NUS executive members failing to represent the students who elected them, choosing rather to pursue their own ends.

I agree entirely with the stance taken by Stephen Day (the education and welfare officer at Southampton's student union), who believes that NUS fees are too high and that the alleged "student" body has failed outright in lobbying on tuition fees and student loans.

The NUS also showed its lack of awareness in not having a policy for member bodies ceasing to affiliate. Perhaps this is not an oversight, as the lack of a defined procedure means that tooth-and-nail arguments can be carried out, giving the NUS more than one chance to get an "affiliate" vote. At Southampton, losing one vote ought to be enough.

The NUS will never be happy with member bodies leaving. It is high time the NEC wakes up and realises that the longer the situation remains as it is now, the more the average student will become aware of the farcical standard of representation they receive.

Will Brown President UMIST Students' Association

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