On the 1st April, delegates from across the country descended in to the Mecca of political debate that is NUS Annual Conference. Over 1000 delegates attended the three day conference in the delights of Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.
The aim of conference is to decide policy and the direction of the NUS for the forthcoming year, last year’s conference voted for review of the structure of the NUS in light of criticism that the organisation has failed to engage students. The build up to the final vote over the Governance Review since it had been passed, at last year’s Extraordinary Conference has been fiercely fought and evitably a battle of for or against.
To pass the review needed a two-thirds majority. The members of NEC supporting the reform entered the debate confidently. Taking up a significant proportion of the first day, conference heard from both sides of debate. Falling 25 votes short, the review failed, a close victory for the opponents of the review but a victory none the less. Prepared with a contingency speech National President Gemma Tumelty expressed disappointment and feisty message of “we’ll be back”
Proponents of the review hit out at delegates who had voted against particular delegates who broke mandates. Emotional displays, outcries and victorial responses marked the rest of day. The size of conference dwindled after the review had failed with many despondent about the outcome leaving and others simply making the most of their expenses.
Over the following days conference voted on the NUS’ four policy areas Education, Strong & Active Unions, and Society & Citizenship. The result of this is that Free Education is no longer a part of the National Education Campaign and NUS will be supporting the government’s proposals to increase leaving age for school students to 18. The NUS remains committed to campaigning against fascism. Should Iran be attacked the National Executive Committee (NEC) are now mandated to encourage all students’ union to mobalise for campus demonstrations and occupations.
For National President conference elected Wes Streeting currently NUS’ Vice President for Education. There were several re-elections including Dave Lewis for National Treasurer , Ama Uzowuru for Vice-President for Welfare and Beth Walker for vice-president for Further Education. Having made an impression since being elected on to the Block last year, Richard Budden was elected to National Secretary. Finally Aaron Porter was elected vice-president for higher education.