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“Young people face triple dip recession of opportunity, jobs and prospects” In his opening remarks to the NUS annual national conference in Sheffield, NUS president Liam Burns said the real triple recession facing young people is a recession of opportunities to study, job availability, and prospects for the future. Citing evidence in a report from the New Economics Foundation (NEF), commissioned by NUS, Liam said the current youth jobs crisis is not a symptom of the economic crisis but a far more ingrained problem. The NUS president said that education and work are intrinsically linked, arguing that both NUS and it's member students’ unions must campaign to improve a labour market that is failing a generation. “It is very likely that the unemployment level for young people will tip across the one million mark. This means a recession of opportunities to study, a recession of jobs for young people, and a recession of prospects for the future,” he said. “While previous generations may have looked on the labour market as a land of opportunity, this generation looks on it as the abyss. “The current youth jobs crisis is not simply a recessionary ‘blip’ but a longterm and deep-seated problem. Our labour market is failing to deliver economic prosperity, social justice and wellbeing for the majority.” Over a thousand delegates gathered in Sheffield to debate and set NUS’ policy and elect new leaders for the year ahead.

“The current youth jobs crisis is not simply a recessionary ‘blip’ but a long-term and deep-seated problem” NUS recently published the findings from its ground-breaking Pound in your Pocket research into how financial issues affect students’ lives. Liam drew upon how the report can provide an evidence base for stepping

up the student movement’s work on support, saying “we need to adopt new policies and campaigns for getting money into students’ pockets that are ambitious, evidence-based, realistic and deliverable.” Closing his speech, Liam told the packed conference floor that “over the next three days, you will be the judge… the responsibility for representing those seven million students is in your hands”.



President of NUS in Swaziland asked for “solidarity and the hand of friendship” Maxwell Dlamini, president of the Swazi NUS, addressed national conference by recorded video. The Swazi NUS is a student organisation campaigning for democracy, human rights and education for all students in Swaziland. Swaziland is a small country, nearly completely surrounded by South Africa. People in Swaziland have been living in a state of emergency of the last 40 years, since all political activity and freedom of association was declared illegal in 1973 by the king.

“The youth and student movement has been a prime target of the regime” The youth and student movement has been a prime target of the regime because of their active participation in the fight for democracy and human rights. In 2011, after organising a protest march against the king, Maxwell was jailed for ten months and has had to surrender travelling documentation, so he can’t leave the country. Maxwell said that students “have a major stake in the future” and so they must be involved in decisions that affect them.

Toni Pearce elected first NUS President from FE Toni Pearce has today been elected as president of the National Union of Students (NUS) at the union’s National Conference in Sheffield. Toni, who is currently NUS vice-president (further education) becomes the first NUS president who has not been to university. More than 450 of NUS’ affiliated students’ unions are in further education (FE) institutions and the majority of the students NUS represents are in FE. In her manifesto, Toni said her priorities for her presidency would include linking college and university students’ unions together to fight for local wins in the upcoming general election, to campaign for a single central admissions system for all colleges and universities, and to increase efforts to organise and support students to run and win campaigns in their local areas.

“I’m really proud to have been given the opportunity to lead NUS as we build towards the next general election” Speaking after her election, Toni Pearce, NUS president-elect, said: “I’m really proud to have been given the opportunity to build the student movement around a vision for public education, and to be leading NUS as we build towards the next general election. “Between now and 2015 we need to hold a full and frank debate about what education means to society and to properly articulate the public value of education in communities up and down the country."


ELECTION RESULTS Following the completion of various election counts held in both Sheffield and London, the Chief Returning Officer can now fully confirm all the election results from NUS National Conference 2013:

Full Time Officers National President – Toni Pearce Vice President Higher Education – Rachel Wenstone Vice President Further Education – Joe Vinson Vice President Union Development – Raechel Mattey Vice President Welfare – Colum McGuire Vice President Society & Citizenship – Dom Anderson

National Executive Council Rosie Huzzard Jeni-Marie Pittuck Rhiannon Durrans Harry Fox Matt Stanley

Ten other National Executive Councillor positions Ben Dilks James McAsh Peter Smallwood Paul Abernethy Charles Barry Chris Clements Jessica Goldstone Edmund Schluessel Marc McCorkell Kirat Raj Singh

Student Trustees Nick Pringle; Kayode Damali; Abi Jenkins

Members of the Democratic Procedures Committee Sam Gaus; Fatima Junaid; Mike Ross; Jo Johnson; Guy Drury

Videos of the winning speeches are available on:




Play HE zone video on YouTube

Vice President Higher Education: Rachel Wenstone “Let’s continue to transform students’ lives, force our institutions to step up to their education system that we can all be proud of”

Higher Education During the higher education policy discussion, the public value of education, students as partners, and success in education were all high on the agenda. In order to win the argument for reinvestment of public money into higher education, we need to better articulate and evidence the public value

“We need to better articulate and evidence the public value of higher education.” of higher education. NUS will be supporting students’ unions to communicate their public value and that of their institutions.

The general election in 2015 is an important opportunity for the student movement. Delegates also decided to mobilise supporters ahead of the general election to change the perception of public investment in education. A further discussion Was had around access as only the first hurdle for students in higher education; retention and success are just as important. Institutions can no longer be passive – they should actively provide support to enable all students to succeed. NUS will be supporting students’ unions over the coming year to drive forward a programme of work on retention, success, peer-to-peer mentoring and academic engagement. Delegates also discussed postgraduate funding, and called for NUS to demand a cap on postgraduate fees for all courses.

Guest speakers: Paul Blomfield MP and Sarah Veale Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central and former general manager of the University of Sheffield Students’ Union, welcomed delegates to Sheffield City Hall as the event got under way. Addressing a packed conference floor, he paid tribute to NUS’ record of campaigning for social good, and said that “all those of us who share progressive values need to raise our voice”. He also spoke of the city’s radical history and how students have been at the heart of it, pointing out that “I have more students in my

constituency than any other in the UK”. Sarah Veale, head of equality and human rights at the TUC and a former NUS vice president welfare, was this year's guest speaker. She addressed delegates on Conference floor on the evening of the first day. She spoke with moving conviction about a range of social mobility issues, and in particular campaigning for gender equality. She told delegates that “it’s a disgrace that we still have a yawning gender pay gap 40 years after the Equal Pay Act”.



Vice President Further Education: Joe Vinson “I believe that further education should be open to the entire population, free to all learners and tailored to each and every student”

Further Education Debates were had in this zone around a more flexible education system, barriers to participation and employment. High on the agenda was a motion calling for a fair and flexible education system with greater parity between further and higher education students, as well as opportunities to return to

learning later in life, and accessible options to learn whilst working. As a result of this being passed, NUS will consult with FE students on their views about the future of further education in the tertiary sector. The year 2012 saw an unprecedented level of reform proposed for the English qualifications

Play FE zone video on YouTube

Delegates called for campaigns for… a more accessible platform for students to move between further and higher education system, with a specific focus on A Levels and GCSEs. Delegates called for campaigns for a national qualifications framework and a more accessible platform for students to move between further and higher education. Conference also focused on improving access to funding, and establishing a learner voice for people in vocational education. It involves undertaking research in to ‘the experience of work experience’ and a campaign to improve pay and conditions for apprentices.

Fringe: the future of education David Morris, a delegate from Durham Students' Union, wrote about the fringe on 'the future of education' facilitated by NUS' further and higher education zones at NUS National Conference. He said: Attendees were asked to reflect on a number of questions that could be holistically understood as ‘what good education feels like’. What is exciting and frustrating? What are our hopes and fears for the future? What communities does it serve and how? From these discussions I got a real sense of how students, asked to step back from the usual slogans and invocations, understand the place of their institutions in public life, and the organic relationship

that education providers and partners have with wider society and personal development. The event reflected on the currently disjointed relationship between learning at school, learning at university, and learning in further education colleges. A vision for future education would surely develop, and perhaps break down, the links between each of these learning environments. Discussions like this fringe event, and vanguard policies passed at this conference, such as ‘the public value of education’, ‘student partnership’, ‘deepening partnership’ and more, are a step towards a more effective and mature discourse.



Vice President Union Development: Raechel Mattey “When people know our success, our story and how integral our unions are to local communities, it will strengthen our ability to campaign and more importantly win for our members”

Union Development Debates in this zone centred on supporting and enhancing student activities and opportunities, and included a controversial vote on whether NUS should support direct action. After technical reassurance, the amendment that mandated NUS to support action such as occupations and demonstrations fell. In addition, delegates voted to reaffirm the zone’s position on creating a generation of activists ahead of the General Election in 2015. The motion

on activists and organisers in our students’ unions, including all the amendments, passed. Across the movement our members engage in many different activities and don’t realise that they are learning how to be activists and organisers. The motion states that by working to develop our activists and organisers in many different fields of opportunity, we will be able to make the most of the unique moment. NUS will research and promote

Play UD zone video on YouTube

the contribution of students involved in sports, clubs and volunteering to the local community – articulating the public good of tertiary education and demonstrably building sympathy for the student cause come the next General Election. Supporting student media was discussed in a motion to deepen participation in student opportunities. This motion, states that NUS will support student media by convening a College of Editors of Student Publications. NUS will also fully explore leadership in the area of student activities, including a report to National Conference 2014 weighing up the benefits of a “vice president student activities”. NUS will also explore the development of a leadership academy, mentoring schemes, different models of working and a student opportunities barometer as a result of discussions held in this zone.

Fringe: how do you get students doing more in your union? Abi Jenkins, union chair at the University of Wales Trinity St. David, wrote about the fringe hosted by NUS on the topic of mapping participation. She said: Engaging students and encouraging them to participate in the students’ union is certainly something that I have found a challenge at Trinity Saint David Students’ Union, and it seems that we are not in a unique situation. The report from NUS' research report Mapping Participation encourages that we should first ask ourselves what we want from students and how we want them to be engaged? The results indicate that only 4 per

cent of students are involved in the areas of democracy and activism, and that the majority of students are engaged with the union through paid employment and clubs and societies. Of course there are also a large number of students that are not engaged at all, and so what are the barriers that we need to overcome to resolve this? While there will be students that are in further or higher education solely for the purpose of their education, there are also students that want to get involved but feel they can’t and this needs to be addressed.



Vice President Welfare: Colum McGuire “We have to put welfare at the forefront in order to open up education and lead our members through their educational studies to academic success and personal development.”

Welfare One of the issues delegates spent a long time debating in this zone was whether to campaign to bring back the education maintenance allowance (EMA). After impassioned speeches arguing both cases, the motion fell, with conference resolving instead to develop proposals for a better alternative to EMA. In addition to EMA, delegates discussed housing standards, fairness in student finance and community cohesion. The motion on housing standards mandates NUS to amass a body of evidence documenting issues students face in relation to private accommodation, and how these impact on health, academic attainment, and social inclusion. On student finance, NUS will provide support to students’ unions on lobbying for a fair and transparent approach to student debt in their institutions, alongside supporting the ‘No Free Lunch?’ campaign and lobbying for affordable accommodation. NUS will also work to set parameters for how financial support should be

advertised by institutions, as well as lobbying the government to increase statutory financial support to reflect rises in living costs. In another debate around community cohesions, delegates asked NUS to identify best practice in work around students’ living off-campus. NUS will provide guidance to students’ unions on engaging with police and crime commissioners, as well as helping to make the case for the importance of spaces for students to pray, and for student representation on local health and wellbeing boards. NUS fought hard to reverse government plans to cut the £30m, which serves as a lifeline for young parents accessing further education. In addition to this, vice president welfare Pete Mercer celebrated the completion of the Pound in your Pocket survey and the first ever comprehensive literature review of the level of student support available. A key piece of work for the welfare zone has been the production of an accommodation cost guide, which will inform plans for a campaign to be launched later in the year. Pete Mercer said that accommodation costs are “one of the biggest issues facing student maintenance.

Play Welfare zone video on YouTube

Fringe: Faith and Equal Marriage Gary Spedding, a delegate from Queen's University Belfast, wrote about the fringe event on faith and sexuality issues facilitated by NUS' welfare zone. He said: The fringe began with a display of common media images on the issue of faith and marriage equality. A range of images both negative and positive flashed before our eyes, helping us to conceptualise the immense polarisation this particular topic has become in public discourse. We were asked to think carefully about the diverse way in which faith can interact with sexuality. We were then introduced to a method termed “silent discussion”, a conversation written down where we read questions, responded to those questions in writing, and responded further if we wished. In my opinion this is an amazing way to have a respectful, forward-moving conversation that cuts out the immediate emotional responses that can become overbearing in vocal debate. Having an open mind leads to greater understanding, even if we staunchly disagree with the opinions expressed – frankly it is easier to hear if we begin to listen.



Vice President Society & Citizenship: Dom Anderson “Society and citizenship is about capturing the transformative power of education, to build people’s confidence to stand up and defy all the elitist expectations of who should and who should not be in education”

Society and Citizenship Society and citizenship was the last set of motions to be debated at National Conference, and had a focus on action and organising for the General Election. This section began with a motion on ‘organising now and for 2015’. As a result of this motion passing, NUS’ activist development programme will be concentrated on supporting

specific campaigns, such as the living wage and transport costs. It also looks toward building for the General Election 2015, stressing “to mobilise students and influence politicians locally ahead of the General Election”. ‘Votes at 16’ was another topic debated in this zone. Recognising that the right to vote is a fundamental part of citizenship, the motion that passed

Play Soc & Cit zone video on YouTube

calls for a set of actions to ensure votes at 16 is firmly on the agenda at the 2015 General Election. This includes lobbying political parties, gaining support from MPs, developing campaign materials and highlighting the campaign in the media. Amendment 402a also passed, so in addition to the main motion about Votes at 16, this amendment calls for direct action during the General Election in 2015. NUS will organise around local and national elections, starting in May 2013 to get 16 and 17 year-olds along to ballot stations and stage sit-ins in protest at their voices being shut-out. Only two full motions were debated before time came to an end on this section at National Conference. The remaining motions will be passed to the National Executive Council (NEC) to debate further and pass or reject.

Fringe: the modern jobs economy NUS’ new report The Modern Jobs Economy sets out key trends in the current UK labour market and how a student’s education influences their future employment. The panel consisted of Faiza Shaheen (senior researcher at the new economics foundation), Martin Edmondson (chief executive at Graduates Yorkshire and Gradcore), and Josh Smith (education officer at Leeds University Union). Building on the report, this panel discussion featured Faiza who drew attention to shifts in employment and study trends outlined in the report, highlighting that there are now many more people with “middle” qualifications but far fewer jobs at that level, and there are an increasing

amount of people in low-earning jobs. Martin spoke of his experience in the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector and encouraged working with these groups to create employment opportunities for students, citing that “70 or 80 per cent of new jobs are created by SMEs”. Josh spoke about some of the employability work at Leeds University Union, and stressed that such work should be taken seriously by the student movement. He said: “There are some people who don’t think employability has a place in students’ unions, but I don’t agree with that. We’ve spoken to our students and they say that employability is important to them.”













NUS National Conference 2013 Roundup  
NUS National Conference 2013 Roundup  

This newsletter details the major events that took place at NUS National Conference in Sheffield.