Ben Adams has had his say on why he is opposed to St Andrews joining NUS (see it here). Now Holly Patrick and Ben Anderson present the other side of the argument.
You could say that this referendum comes down to what you believe in.
NUS is the voice of students in Scotland and the UK. We can debate all day about whether NUS is saying the right things to Government, we would argue that although NUS Scotland is achieving a lot already, the chances of winning are only increased if we get involved and help out.
St Andrews is great, but it’s a problem that only 15 [Scottish] students from poorer backgrounds are here. NUS Scotland has led a campaign recently to protect college funding in Scotland, that not only protected the funding, but increased it. This will mean hundreds of thousands of pupils across Scotland will have a chance to get the qualifications to come here, but there’s so much more to do to make our University accessible to everyone who has the ability and desire to be here.
We all know students here are getting ripped off every day by landlords who have got away with it for far too long, NUS has already helped to secure a tenancy deposit scheme that saves over £200 per student on average, by holding your deposits in an independent account. It is now working with government to try and slow down the increase in student rents over the last decade. This is work that is happening right now that St Andrews, with some of the highest rents in the UK, could really benefit from and we aren’t part of it.
We have all seen the recent case of International Students being threatened with deportation at London Metropolitan University. NUS intervened in the case and now those students are still in the country studying at university. No one is saying that our International students are under threat of deportation right now, but the point is that this is an example of a problem we simply couldn’t fight alone if it were to happen here. Not least because of the £40,000 legal fees.
We love our Students’ Association, but how can sharing ideas with other students’ unions and associations, getting professional training and advice be a bad thing? We get to pick and choose which of NUS’ services we take advantage of, whether it’s a new website through the multi-million pound digital platform or whether it’s through the NUS extra discount.
Yes, when we are full members, the Students’ Association will need to pay £19,000 in membership fees (that’s before we get any income back, like through NUS extra) but let’s put that into context. We currently have £1.7 million in the bank just sat there, we turn over £3.7 million per year, we also spent £18,000 [actually closer to £3,000] on the mural on the wall in the Bar last year. No one is saying National Representation is cheap; we only have to look at the billions spent in the US Presidential campaigns to see how much people can spend on persuading and campaigning, we would argue NUS offers good value.
This debate is in danger of descending into a conversation about money alone; we owe to our fellow students, future students and students all around the country to talk about the real issues in this debate. Stand up For St Andrews Nationally and vote Yes to NUS.
Voting for the NUS referendum is currently open and closes at 6pm on Friday (16 November).