A Stirling University group has launched its campaign to students calling on them to support a Stirling exit from the National Union of Students (NUS).
The NO to the NUS group claims the NUS is “an organisation that is unrepresentative of students…and is used merely as a platform for its executives to enact their own political views.”
The Stirling Students’ Union is one of 600 students’ unions throughout the UK to be members of NUS, which describes itself as forwarding the rights and voices of over seven million students.
In a statement, the group said: NUS “is an organisation drowning in hypocrisy and it is an organisation that the University of Stirling would benefit from leaving.
“There is a fundamental lack of democracy and accountability within the NUS that appears to go beyond the point of reform.”
Michael Craig, the group’s Chair, said he was hopeful the statement act as a call to Stirling students.
He said: “By putting out the statement we are trying to encourage all students across the University to engage in a debate about the NUS and our membership of it.
“We feel that it’s been far too long since students have been able to decide for themselves whether they want to remain part of an organisation that we feel is flawed to the core.”
The group has since published a petition to gather support from students for a referendum on the Union’s membership of NUS.
Conor Fitzpatrick, a third year History student, said he was supporting the petition for a referendum because NUS is no longer representative of Stirling students’ preferences.
He added: “The devolution of further education in Scotland suggests that Scottish students would be better served by their own Union, rather than the Westminster orientated one we currently have.”
The Union President and Vice-President of Education responded, pressing that, although far from perfect, NUS membership sees a net gain for the students.
In a joint statement, Andrew Kinnell and Hollie Cameron said: “Our affiliation fee is approximately £20,000 per annum, while net gain per annum currently stands at £24,000.
“Furthermore, the access to training, opportunities and support for union officers and staff is unparalleled.
“In the opinion of the Union President and Vice President Education the best way to reform NUS democracy is from within.”
NO to the NUS said the NUS’s record of dealing with LGBT groups, and its initial rejection to recruit a full-time Trans Officer, “is simply not making students, and improving conditions for them, a priority.”
On this point, the Stirling Students’ Union said: “If self-defining LGBT students at Stirling wish to comment on the policy of the NUS UK LGBT campaign they should get in touch with the Union and we will support them to challenge this through the appropriate channels.
“We do not answer to the NUS.”
Kinnell and Cameron both agree students should have a say, and say they are open to discussing constitutional options with students.
Politics student Jamie Grant also supported the petition, and argued “the NUS has been out of touch with the real needs, views and interests of its members.
“The NUS is beyond reform; let’s leave and get to work.”
The petition comes just a week after the NUS elected its new President, Malia Bouattia.