NUS President Shuts Down Debate About Fighting For Free Education

NCAFC submitted a motion to the National Union of Students National Executive Council (NEC) in support of our free education demo in November so that NUS could help us resource and build it.

The President of NUS has unfairly ruled out the motion from being heard on the basis that conference voted not to discuss a completely different motion including a part about a demo, with different demands.

For explanation: at the conference it’s common to run out of time in motions debates, and when that happens, the conference votes on whether or not to defer all these motions to the next NEC. However, it is commonplace for NEC members to re-submit individual motions if they’re deemed significant enough and don’t contradict existing NUS policy – this happened, for example, at the last NEC meeting where a few motions not discussed at conference were debated and voted on.


However, this time the President Shakira Martin has claimed that because a previous motion regarding a demo was among the motions not heard at conference, and conference voted for them not to be deferred to NEC, this motion cannot be debated – even though this is not how the rules work, and despite the motion being a completely new one.


However, this time the President Shakira Martin has claimed that because a previous motion regarding a demo was among the motions conference voted to not be deferred to NEC, this motion cannot be debated. Not only is this is not in line with NUS rules, the motion in question is a completely new one.

There is absolutely no justification for this. This is clearly nothing but a shameless political manoeuvre which demonstrates no regard for democratic process and the principle of honest discussion and debate. Instead of openly arguing against a motion she presumably opposes, the President is hiding behind a bureaucratic measure – one which is likely to be unconstitutional and which we will be challenging in every possible way.


It is also frustrating to see that, at a time when free education is literally within our reach – as a result of years and years of relentless organising by students across the country – the President of our national union has taken such a hostile stance towards those actively pushing to make free education a reality.


We’ve just come out of a general election where Labour has won the support of millions of young people and students with scrapping tuition fees as a headline policy. In the months that have followed, senior figures across the political spectrum have come out against the fees regime. Support for free education is widespread and growing. Now is exactly the time to keep up the pressure to win an education system that is truly free and accessible to all.


NUS has policy to campaign for free education, and yet our National President – who claims to support the policy – is in a blatantly undemocratic way undermining students trying to do so. The demo will of course go ahead regardless. We will still fight for the motion to be heard, and work hard to build the demo no matter what happens. We are extremely disappointed by the actions of NUS leadership, and are hoping that the decision will be reversed. Either way, we cannot be discouraged. Now is our time. See you on the streets on November 15th!

For reference:

Motion submitted to NEC “Support the Free Education NOW – Tax The Rich National Demo” LINK

Motion submitted to NUS Conference “Motion HE216 | A national demo as part of a strategy to stop the HE reforms” LINK


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