The University of Plymouth Students’ Union (UPSU) will leave the National Union of Students (NUS) after a referendum to decide its future.
519 out of 1,006 members of UPSU voted to leave the NUS, after students voiced concerns over the value for money of their membership.
Those who supported the bid to leave said that UPSU had sent more than £57,000 to the NUS this year, yet “Most students do not know what the NUS is, or what it stands for.”
They argued that although University of Plymouth students will miss out on some benefits, such as student discounts, they would ultimately save money on services such as affiliation fees and training costs.
UPSU president Alex Doyle told the BBC that there were “significant concerns” regarding the NUS’ value for money for students, as well as a “lack of political standing and lack of support.”
However, those who wished to remain within the NUS said that the union gave students “the power to challenge government, business, and other institutions.”
The news comes after a leaked NUS letter showed the union was facing a £3 million deficit in its finances.
In response, the University of Manchester Students’ Union told The Mancunion: “The fact NUS is facing financial difficulties is a concern for the whole student movement. Students have never needed an effective NUS more than they do now.”
However, UoM students have mixed feelings regarding their Students’ Union’s affiliation with the NUS. Recent Music and Drama graduate Liam Murphy addressed those who wanted to leave the NUS, saying: “Would it not be better to attempt to radicalise and allow more rank and file organisation of the NUS from within rather than scrapping it altogether and risking having no trade union representation whatsoever?
“I’m not saying I necessarily fall on either side of the debate but I think more information is needed to make a proper decision. For example if the idea is to leave it with no alternative or plan for what to do after…then I’d be firmly against.”
A second-year drama student who chose to stay anonymous said: “The NUS, Students Union… all of that, seems completely and utterly pointless on most fronts, another pointless level of bureaucracy that a lot of students don’t know or care about, because we don’t know what it does, nor do we know how we’ve been benefited by it, and we don’t really know whether it would have any effect on how we do the thing we are here at university to do – getting a degree.”
The NUS have told UPSU “We intend to listen and we intend to change”, and that UPSU’s decision to leave was “a source of great sadness.”
They added that the “door will always be open, and we look forward to a day when we can welcome the University of Plymouth Students’ Union back into the fold.”