Welcome to The Linc’s live blog on tonight’s debate on whether Lincoln SU should remain a member of the National Union of Students.

Lincoln Students' Union (SU)
The SU says the decision avoided having to pay another year’s membership fee. Photo: The Linc.

The debate is taking place at the David Chiddick Building in room DCB1102 at 5pm.

A referendum was confirmed and students will be able to vote starting from 9am on November 16 until 9am on November 19.

In June, the union’s Board of Trustees voted to notify the NUS of its intention to disaffiliate with the group, with the leaving day currently set for the last day of this year.

This has attracted strong reactions from students at the university, as a campaign group and petition was launched demanding a referendum.

That referendum was secured at an All Student Members’ Meeting in late October following an amendment by Bradley Allsop.

Follow this blog for live updates as the debate progresses!

5:10pm: Quite a good turnout!

5:17pm: The debate begins. Bradley Allsop is representing the remain side and Cassie Coakley – SU President – is representing the leave side of NUS membership.

5:22pm: Cassie mentions that over £50,000 is given to the NUS each year and that puts pressure on the university. She also says that the NUS does not support the university enough to justify membership.

5:23pm: Bradley is up next and he makes a point that the NUS is a strong union that supports students. He cites examples of tax exempts and railcards and says we need to stand in solidarity with them.

5:24pm: Cassie says that the NUS does not have a part in politics, and that they aren’t helping us as a university or as students.

5:25pm: Bradley says that the NUS recently held a national conference and that it still has a national influence to make a change. He says that its strength is in its numbers and we’d be excluded.

5:27pm: The first question surrounds what the NUS does to support campaigns. Bradley says that he has used a lot of NUS resources as a postgraduate student through campaigning. But Cassie says that they have taken funding out of certain services such as campaign support.

5:30pm: The next question asks if the strength of the NUS is in numbers, what happens if other universities leave? Bradley makes the point that not a lot of universities have left and that the answer isn’t to walk away.

Cassie says that hundreds of students in universities are leaving and withdrawing their support and that we need to prioritise the needs of our own university.

Bradley questions Cassie over this and says he’s not sure if that’s true.

5:33pm: Cassie says that the NUS has no funding. Bradley says that if we leave then the funding issue is going to become worse for other universities.

5:34pm: The next question what the chances are of the NUS being influential in Government going forward. Bradley says that there is a general election and it depends on that result.

Cassie says she hasn’t seen any power wielded by the NUS in government and that it is an uncertain time, but that it isn’t  pushing for anymore power.

5:36pm: The next question asks where the £58,000 membership fee will go. Cassie says that it will go into the university, specifically on mental health services and recreational events such as Quack.

Bradley says he is suspicious over the £58,000 number and claims that it’s’ dubious’ and that he isn’t sure how much of a say students will get.

5:45pm: The next question regards the NUS supposedly being on the brink of bankruptcy. Cassie says that the reforms went through and that the SU were against the majority.

5:47pm: The next question asks: ‘If the NUS are known for achieving great things, how does the uni compete?’ Cassie says that the NUS isn’t doing anything now.

Bradley agrees that it is in a difficult period and leaving can’t help that, claiming that we cannot replicate the NUS and that students need the support.

5.50pm: The next question asks ‘In terms of supporting students with disabilities, the SU has historically relied on the NUS. What now?’ Cassie says that the NUS has struggled to help the university. She says that the NUS isn’t magical and there are other organisations and people that Lincoln students can talk to and who would help just the same.

Bradley says that in general his understanding is that students who face additional issues have been supported by the NUS, claiming that a lot of issues faced are from national policy and that the SU can only tackle that by being part of a national union.

5.55pm: A questioner asks: ‘How easy is the withdrawal process from the NUS?’

Cassie says that it is a simple process of withdrawal but Bradley interupts and says that the SU tried its best to avoid a referendum and have set the referendum date over a weekend to reduce turnout.

Cassie infers that some of the signatures on the petition were forged and Bradley labels her claims as ‘inappropriate’ and ‘outrageous to announce in the debate’.

6:00pm: The next question is ‘How can the NUS rebuild if we leave it, but how can staying fix its problems?’ Bradley says that recently the students of the university have been expressing how they would like to change NUS and that we could help change it.

Cassie says that they are overstretched, and underepresented.

6:05pm: Going back to the emailing of people who signed the petition, Cassie insists that she emailed everyone. Cassie says that she couldn’t accept the petition because of the false information on it, such as claims that the SU broke rules and bye-laws. Bradley disagrees and says that he got 150 signatures so the petition was valid. It is ruled that no bye-laws were broken despite the petition saying so.

Cassie says that the petition has cost thousands of pounds that could have been spent within the SU.

6:09pm: Regarding a question on the NUS achievements, Bradley says that what we’re losing as a result of leaving cannot be replaced with money.

6:11pm: Cassie says that the NUS currently isn’t picking up any calls and isn’t interested in contacting the university.

6:13pm: Bradley says that Cassie changed her amendment to ensure low turnout and ‘it stinks’. Cassie says that we’re having a referendum and that the vote will decide.

6:21pm: The last question is ‘What does national unity mean’. Bradley says that it’s recognising that we have a common interest.

Cassie says that national union is everyone having their voice heard and that shouldn’t be via the NUS, claiming that representation is making sure that voices are heard.


Bradley: I hope that some of you spread the word about the referendum. The NUS isn’t perfect but we can only fix it from being in it. A high turnout is so important and it’s been a hard fight to get this far.

Cassie: Having voices heard and having this debate is key. Thank you for coming. We think the best thing to do is to leave because we aren’t getting represented. We can do it all better ourselves. Please get involved and get your voice heard.