For the second time, the University of Lincoln’s Students’ Union is holding a referendum on whether they should remain affiliated or leave the National Union of Students (NUS). The Linc has asked both sides to argue their case. In this article, we hear from Connor Delany of Yes to NUS.

Photo: Connor Delany.
Photo: Connor Delany.

Let’s start local. Once we crunched through the numbers for Lincoln we found that, once all the other savings were added up, the net cost of the NUS to our union is actually roughly only £12,000 a year (some years less, some years more – last year in fact we had a net financial gain), which is less than a pound for every student here at Lincoln.

This is because NUS saves us an awful lot of money on the food, drink and clothing we buy in, and administrative costs too.

For this, our union receives plenty of support from NUS – from officer training to advice and support on campaigns, from overseeing electoral complaints to providing tools and research that some unions might not be able to acquire on their own, not to mention the NUS extra deals individual students can save a lot of money with. For a local SU then, disaffiliation is a bad move, but on a national level, the case for remaining is even more urgent.

If enough unions disaffiliated to bring the NUS down, or rob it of its legitimacy to speak for the majority of students, it’d be a disaster. More now than ever we need to be able to mobilise against tuition fees, marketization and student cuts.

We need to be able to present a powerful, united voice, that has plenty of room for debate and critique, but not disintegration. We need to come together, not break apart. We desperately, desperately need a win and NUS has proven, time and again, it is able to provide one.

This year NUS has mounted efforts to challenge the government’s Prevent policy — an agenda that is allowing racism and prejudice to spread across campuses and drives a wedge between community relationships.

Officers have worked with students too to challenge the extortionate rents and appalling conditions that those living in student housing have to face, pushing up the penalty for dodgy landlords ripping students off.

It has also: supported student voter registration and campaigned for votes aged 16, fought against the loss of maintenance grants and NHS bursaries, conducted research into the welfare of LGBT+ students, campaigned to reduce the cost of living for students, and battled to keep further education adequately funded.

In the past they secured the exemption from council tax and rent deposit protection schemes that all students benefit from, saving them hundreds a year, and recently helped secure loans for postgraduate students too.

It is only those completely detached from ordinary student concerns themselves that could honestly say that this body of work has had little impact on students’ lives. In fact, it becomes difficult to know what those unhappy with NUS actually want it to do.

To end with the words on the NUS ‘what we do’ page: “Students and students’ unions are more effective when they organise together locally, nationally and internationally. Unity is our strength.” Let’s not rob ourselves of this tool, but work together to make it ever more effective.


This article is written as a guest column by someone The Linc invited to put forward their point of view. All views are their own and they don’t necessarily represent the view of The Linc or any individual writers who work with us.