Across the country, many Students’ Unions are voting on whether to remain affiliated with the National Union of Students (NUS).
The issue of students’ disillusionment in the NUS gained force when President of the NUS Malia Bouattia generated scandal over her comments regarding Jewish students, which prompted backlash from many students across the country and led to calls that it was failing to represent the whole student body. Some disaffiliations have already occurred at universities in Newcastle and Hull.
At the University of Manchester, students currently do not have the opportunity to vote on whether their students’ union should remain affiliated. However at the first senate meeting of the academic year the Students’ Union debated whether to offer a referendum on membership of the NUS, this was not passed.
Despite this, Samim Sadid has started a petition on the Students’ Union website calling for a referendum on NUS membership. Speaking to The Mancunion, Sadid has said: “The referendum provides an opportunity and democratic exercise for students to express concerns they may have about the NUS. A growing number of students do not feel the NUS is representing their interests effectively. They want change and feel the NUS are not providing that change.”
If the referendum is allowed to take place, it would allow the debate that has happened at other universities to take place at the University of Manchester. Referendums have also been held at Cambridge, which voted to stay by a five per cent margin, and Oxford where 57 per cent voted to stay.
Sadid went on to say: “This referendum, therefore, empowers students to campaign and pitch their arguments for remaining or leaving the NUS, and, deciding which direction they want their students’ union to follow.”
In statement to The Mancunion Naa Acquah, General Secretary of the Students’ Union said: “As a democratic institution, we are delighted that students come up with a range of ideas that have the ability to trigger referendums on a variety of issues. Within our structures we also hold a referendum on NUS every 3 years which would have been next academic year.
“With regards to the recent proposal to hold a referendum, our current view is that at a time when Higher Education is under attack, we foresee that being a part of the wider Student movement will be invaluable.”