Newcastle becomes latest student union to disaffiliate from NUS

Sam Harrison 12 May 2016

The Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU) has voted to disaffiliate from the National Union of Students by a margin of 2 to 1, with 1,469 votes cast.

The result is the latest development in the controversy that has shaken the NUS since the election of its new president Malia Bouattia, who has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks, an allegation she denies. The referendum was one of many currently being held in universities, and it follows a vote to disaffiliate at Lincoln University on 9 May. Cambridge will hold its referendum between 24 and 27 May, and CUSU has scheduled a debate on the issue for 19 May.

The pro-disaffiliation movement in Newcastle, No to NUS: Newcastle, made the key points of its campaign the expense of affiliation with the NUS, the organisation’s lack of accountability, and infamous policies such as the suppression of the social media app Yik Yak and a campaign to raise the price of alcohol on campuses. The anti-disaffiliation campaign, Yes to NUS, emphasised the national union’s collective strength and its successes protecting vulnerable groups.

The president of NUSU, Dominic Fearon, said the result shows that Newcastle students feel that the NUS “no longer represents their views, does not prioritise correctly, and is not effective at achieving change.” Outgoing president of the NUS Megan Dunn insisted that affiliation is value for money, saying that “This year NUSU generated about £19,000 through NUS Extra card sales, and made a profit of about £68,000 – thanks to NUS affiliation – all of which is invested into student services.”

However, she also hinted that the union will look to address students’ criticisms, stating that the NUS is currently developing a new democratic structure to be raised at the union’s next national conference.