Daniel Randall, former NUS NEC member and now on the NUS Board of Trustees, writes in a personal capacity about education funding, the need for co-ordination, and the state of activism in the National Union of Students…
As a former member of the NUS National Executive Committee and as a current member of its Trustee Board, I’ve witnessed close-up the degeneration of the National Union of Students into what is now little more than a commercial organisation that carries out some limited lobbying and campaigning work. At a time when the government and education sector bosses are launching savage attacks on both students and workers in the sector, NUS is simply not equipped to lead the fightback. Students on dozens of campuses have organised and led dynamic and inspiring campaigns against fees and cuts; all too often this has been done not only without the support of but in the face of active hostility from their Students Unions and lukewarm support at best from the NUS at a national level.
Unions that do maintain an activist, campaigning perspective and groups of grassroots activists on campuses where SUs haven’t taken this view need to link up to begin to coordinate the kind of national campaign that can no longer be meaningfully fought for solely within the ‘official structures’ of the student movement. The Convention will be key space for beginning that work.
This isn’t to say that a willingness to break from NUS should be a
precondition for involvement in the Convention, but it is to say that we can’t wait until we’ve won the battle against the right and the bureaucracy within NUS before we plan action. We need to mobilise independently, from below, and immediately.
So if you’re a SU officer or a campus activist that believes in a radical, campaigning perspective to push back cuts and reassert the basic principles of free education, get your union or activist group to support and mobilise for the National Convention Against Fees and Cuts.
– Daniel Randall (ex-NUS NEC member & NUS Trustee, pc)