The University of Portsmouth’s Students Union will continue its affiliation with the National Union of Students.
In total, 1,144 out of 21,625 (5.29% of students) voted in the referendum.
875 cast a vote for ‘Yes’, while 250 voted no and there were 19 spoilt ballots.
For most students the main bonus of the affiliation is the continuing scheme of the NUS extra discount card. As a result of the vote, this will not change.
The NUS is the main national voice for students, representing 600 students’ unions all over the country, and empowers students to battle a range of different issues.
Richard Brooks is the NUS officer in charge of membership affiliation and referendums. Speaking to The Galleon about the difficulties faced by the NUS leading up to the vote, he said: “I’ve spent a lot of time this year listening to students’ unions about what they think issues are.”
In particular, the challenges faced by the NUS in the last few months have been democracy and the value for money for the affiliated students, he said: “Students don’t know how they can influence NUS or where their union’s money goes. So we’re doing a lot of work around that.”
“Underpinning this, we need to get better at communicating through students’ unions and to students directly. To show how our influence for students is massive to government, and to make sure that all students realise we represent all students and not just a few.”
Commenting on the result for Portsmouth, Brooks said: “There’s a lot going on that will benefit the lives of Portsmouth Students. We’re campaigning incredibly hard against the Teaching Excellence Framework, and the government using that as a back door to increase fees.”
The NUS are also trying to make sure that they are there to support student’s unions and say that they are committed to saving students money.
One challenge faced by the NUS is to keep its democratic heart. The union is undergoing a review of this side of operations, which encompasses and is looking for student input.
Commenting on this, Brooks said: “We [want to] make our democracy better and a change in our membership contribution to make sure that the affiliation fee students’ unions pay to be a member of NUS is clearer and more progressive.”
“As always, you have got to be in something to change it. NUS is a confederation of 600 students’ unions with a long and proud history of making students’ lives better – but we need to improve.”
The NUS is also trying to get more representation and exposure in universities such as Portsmouth to boost engagement with the union. Brooks added: “Portsmouth students should be at the forefront of that. Come to National Conference, submit policy, email me or other officers, pass policy in your students’ union about NUS. We want to listen.”