Left-wing motions for NUS National Conference 2017

Delegates voting at NUS conference

On 25-27 April 2016, the National Union of Students (NUS) will be holding its national annual conference. NCAFC activists will be at the conference to argue for a left-wing, campaigning, democratic direction for our national union. As well as standing candidates for leading roles, we will push for left-wing policies, and hold the leadership to account where they have failed to fulfil their mandates.

Motions for NUS conference are submitted via student unions – students propose them to their local union’s democratic structure, and if they are voted through, the union sends them to NUS conference. We encourage activists to submit left-wing motions, and also to stand for election as delegates and come to the conference to argue and vote for them! The motions below have been written by NCAFC activists for supporters to propose to their unions – they do not necessarily represent the views of every NCAFC member. Some of them are stand-alone motions, and some of them are amendments to proposals from the NUS leadership (the Zone Committees) – you can find those proposals here. NUS motions are organised into “zones” according to their topic, and each student union can submit up to 1400 words. You will need to:

  1. Put up to 1400 words worth of motions (see word counts in the list below) to your SU’s democratic structures (e.g. Council, General Meeting, Executive or Referendum). Remember to find out when there’s a meeting before the NUS deadline (5pm 28 February 2017) and check how far in advance you need to submit your motions to that meeting.
  2. Campaign to win the vote!
  3. Make sure your SU submits them to NUS using this form before 5pm 28 February 2017conference.nusconnect.org.uk/policy/submit-policy

Please let us know if you are going to put motions to your union, if you would like help, or if you have other motions you’re submitting additional to those listed here: email againstfeesandcuts@gmail.com. We can let you know which motions are already being put through SUs and which need to be picked up. Please also get in touch if you are going to be a delegate to NUS Conference and want to coordinate with other NCAFC activists there!


Priority Zone

Defend the right to organise, speak and protest on campuses

Amendment to motion “Liberate Education”

ADD:

Conference Believes

  1. There is a wide range of threats to students’ and workers’ rights to free political organising, expression and protest on campuses currently.
  2. Progressive and liberatory movements like ours cannot change the world without changing hearts and minds. We need political freedoms to challenge bigoted and dominant ideas, convince people, and take action.
  3. Restrictions on free expression usually attack progressives and oppressed groups. Our best defence is that willingness to defend open discussion and free speech be as widely and firmly embedded as possible.
  4. A small number of political groups, mainly fascist organisations, do not simply campaign for their ideas, they organise to use physical violence against progressive and marginalised groups. While arguing against their ideas, their organisations also pose an immediate physical threat to us, and so we need appropriate action in self-defence.
  5. Freedom to express and explore ideas is essential in the academic sphere; education institutions need to be havens for subversive, radical and controversial thought.

Conference Further believes:

  1. Problems for free expression and organising on campuses currently include:
    1. PREVENT, which targets, surveils, harasses and stigmatises Muslim students and political activists expressing radical ideas. Additionally the government wants universities to ban otherwise legal speakers
    2. Our institutions’ senior managers often want to keep controversial discussions off-campus, and prevent postering and campaigning that would disrupt their corporate image. They victimise protesters; use injunctions and violence against protests; block staff strikes on anti-democratic technicalities; get trade unionists deported or made redundant.
    3. Police harass and assault black people and protesters.
    4. The law antidemocratically restricts student unions and trade unions.
    5. Cuts and marketising reforms in HE and FE make our institutions serve the narrow interests of big business, shutting down academic freedom and diversity in teaching and research.
    6. Some student unions have become hostile to political discussion and organising that sounds radical or controversial, student activism difficult.
    7. The use of bans to shut out speakers with bigoted, right-wing and disagreeable views, instead of combating them by actively countering and defeating their ideas through argument and protest.

Conference Resolves:

  1. To launch a joined-up campaign to tackle all these issues and stand for students’ and workers’ political freedoms to express and discuss ideas and organise on campus.
  2. To foster a culture of open political discussion in the student movement, in order to have an active, healthy and participatory democracy.
  3. To re-affirm our “cops off campus” policy, and campaign for law prohibiting police from campuses without democratic permission from students and staff.
  4. In general, to combat regressive and bigoted political ideas using protest and argument. This can be difficult and exhausting, so we should support each other to do as much as each of us feels able.
  5. To re-affirm our No Platform policy against fascist organisations, but to limit our use of this self-defence tactic (acting to deny a group the ability to organise and advocate their ideas) to groups that organise to use physical violence against marginalised groups of people and progressives.

Education Zone

Fight the HE reforms

Amendment to the HE Zone Proposal, “JoJo don’t know much about quality: what a wonderful world HE could be”

ADD:

Conference Believes:

  1. The current Higher Education reforms, including the introduction of the TEF as well as easier access to degree awarding powers and university status for private providers, are an attack on the very idea of public education. They need to be resisted as a whole – it is not enough to oppose individual elements, such as fee increases or specific TEF metrics.
  2. The reforms would have a devastating impact on education workers as well as students, and student-staff solidarity is essential to resisting them.
  3. NUS has a policy to boycott the National Student Survey unless and until the reforms are withdrawn.
  4. A long-term boycott of the NSS will cause significant disruption to the running of the HE system and the implementation of the TEF, and could give students the leverage we badly need.
  5. Given that the NSS scores are averaged over three years for use in the TEF, the boycott will have maximum impact if continued nationally into future years – this has always been the case.
  6. We can build on the impact of the boycott this year to have even greater participation in the boycott in future years, which will be necessary if the government presses on with HE reforms.
  7. The way to improve the quality of education is through adequate public funding and democratising institutions. Our alternatives to metrics and marketisation must be based on the principle of democracy, not just tokenistic student representation.

Conference Resolves:

  1. To maintain the NSS boycott in future years, as a tactic in a wider campaign against the whole HE reforms, not just limited to fee increases and their link with the TEF.
  2. To actively reach out to Students’ Unions and encourage all SUs to participate in the boycott, as well as promote the action to all students.
  3. If the HE reforms pass into law, to continue the campaign with a call for their reversal and advocate for a publicly-owned education system, run democratically for social good.
  4. To work closely with UCU on the campaign.

DELETE conference resolves 8 and REPLACE with:

  1. NUS will take a democratic approach to political education, seeking to empower and support students to educate themselves and each other, and to engage in political struggle. NUS should support member unions in supporting their students in doing so.
    As part of supporting their political education, to support students in struggling for the interests of our class and other oppressed groups, and struggling to create a better society for everyone. To support students to develop the skills and organisations necessary to do so.

Supporting a National Education Service

Conference Believes:

  1. That NUS has a commitment to supporting a free, democratic and accessible education system.
  2. That the National Education Service (NES) is the Labour Party’s flagship free education policy.
  3. That Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reaffirmed his support for this policy during the 2016 leadership campaign and included a commitment to abolishing tuition fees and providing free childcare services.[1]
  4. That work is being done by the grassroots activist organisation the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) to develop the idea of what a National Education Service would look like.

Conference Further Believes:

  1. That the NES currently represents our most realistic chance of achieving a free education system in the foreseeable future and represents a positive vision of what we can argue for in opposition to the Conservative Government’s attacks on education.
  2. That the NES is an exciting framework for expanding ideas on what our education system should look like, from schools to Further and Higher education.
  3. That we should have a free, publically owned, democratic, secular and accessible education system and support the commitments to abolishing fees and providing free childcare that are already a part of the NES policy.
  4. That any future National Education Service should have, at its core, a commitment to:
    1. Providing adequate funding to education institutions, providing universal living grants to students and secure jobs with good pay and conditions for workers, and abolishing tuition fees.
    2. Removing the barriers to education that exist because of society’s structural and cultural inequality, such as oppression based on class, gender, sex, sexuality, race and ethnic background, and disability.
    3. Being a life-long education service available to anyone regardless of age.
    4. Expanding the democratic control of education institutions by students, staff and other campus workers.

Conference Resolves:

  1. To officially affirm our support for a National Education Service and argue that it should be based on the core commitments outlined above.

[1] www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ana-oppenheim/national-education-service_b_11581140.html


Welfare Zone

NHS Bursaries

Amendment to motion “Mental Health and Hardship”

ADD:

Conference Believes:

  1. Nursing, Midwifery and other allied health professional students do not currently pay tuition fees. They receive bursaries and a reduced-rate student loan to help with living costs.
  2. A fixed number of places are funded based on local ‘workforce plans’, designed to fulfill the needs of the NHS.#
  3. The government plans to end these bursaries from 2017, replacing them with tuition fees and maintenance loans
  4. The Royal College of Nursing oppose this as ‘unfair and risky’ and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) as ‘threatened the future of maternity services in England’.
  5. Nursing, midwifery and allied health admissions have fallen by 20% this year – in some institutions almost 50% – compounding the NHS understaffing crisis.
  6. Many current healthcare students are mature or graduates, but graduates will be unable to access loans.
  7. Many healthcare students have strong vocational training commitments alongside summative academic work, making further paid work difficult.
  8. The bursary is currently insufficient to live on.

Conference Further Believes:

  1. All medical, dental and allied health professional students should receive bursaries, or living grants, which are sufficient to live on without other sources of funding.
  2. The removal of the bursary will reduce access, particularly for graduates.
  3. The experiences and backgrounds of mature students, graduate students and students from lower socio-economic backgrounds contribute to the diversity of healthcare professionals, which is important.
  4. Other healthcare students’ bursaries are at risk.
  5. Healthcare workforce planning should be planned to meet the needs of the population.
  6. Universities will likely cut less popular, specialised courses while expanding popular courses, meaning students may gain vocational qualifications for which there are no jobs, whilst other job vacancies and health needs go unfilled.
  7. The NUS should campaign for an end to fees and marketised education and for living grants for all students. However, the specific situation of healthcare students means that separate NHS Bursaries campaigning can make different alliances and win easier victories.

Conference Resolves:

  1. To campaign for reinstatement of, retention of and expansion of NHS bursaries for healthcare students.
  2. To work with relevant trade unions and engage with healthcare students to campaign on this.
  3. To highlight the particular situation of healthcare students in broader campaigns against marketisation of education and fees, and for living grants.

Living Grants for All!

Amendment to motion “Mental Health and Hardship”

ADD:

Conference Believes:

  1. NUS previously supported universal living grants, and NUS LGBT+ currently does.
  2. The maintenance grants and EMA were insufficient to live on.
  3. Many people fall through the gaps in any means-tested system that assumes parental support – in particular those with unsupportive families, such as many LGBT+ people. The “estrangement” system is broken, but even if we can improve it, it can only help those students who cut themselves off completely from their families.

Conference Further Believes:

  1. Every student should be able to afford to live decently.
  2. Universalism – public services available to absolutely everyone – is a core progressive principle for our movement.
  3. There is plenty of money in society to restore universal grants, plus fund good public services – it’s in the bank accounts and businesses of the wealthy.

Conference Resolves:

  • In 1, after “all students,”:
    “with additional supplements reflecting the needs of student carers and disabled students,”
    and after “these demands”:
    “using the #GrantsNotDebt hashtag.”
  1. Demand this is funded through progressive taxation, such as an increase in corporation tax and taxes on the richest.

Society & Citizenship Zone

Support picturehouse strikers!

Conference Believes:

  1. That workers at Picturehouse cinemas have been striking since September for the Living Wage, sick pay, maternity/paternity pay, and union recognition
  2. That the owner of Picturehouse, Cineworld, made £30 million profit in the first half of 2016.
  3. That many students are employees of Picturehouse That Picturehouse often sells memberships and conducts marketing through Student Unions.

Conference Further Believes:

  1. That we support the demands of the Picturehouse workers and we want them to win
  2. That they set a good example for all low-paid workers and their victory will encourage others
  3. That striking for better pay is an excellent way to fight inequality

Conference Resolves:

  1. To publicise the Picturehouse dispute and encourage members to support their strike fund
  2. To encourage students who work for Picturehouse to join BECTU and find out about the dispute
  3. To encourage student unions to deny Picturehouse access to Freshers′ Fairs and other marketing opportunities until they concede the things that their staff are demanding.

Solidarity with students, workers and the Kurdish movement in Turkey

Conference Believes:

  1. That following the failed coup attempt last July, the Turkish government has been stepping up repression – including by sacking or suspending over 100,000 public sector workers, including over 30,000 school teachers and 5,000 university staff (disproportionately in Turkey’s Kurdish areas), with numbers rising all the time; imprisoning journalists; attacking free speech and the right to criticise the government; and more generally attacking workers’ and students’ rights.
  2. That the Turkish state is continuing and stepping up its brutal war against the Kurdish people and their fight for self-determination.

Conference Further Believes:

  1. That UCU has protested against the Turkish government’s violations of academic freedom and purge of education, and supported the fight for democratic rights in Turkey. We should too.

Conference Resolves:

  1. NUS will release a statement of solidarity with students, education workers, the labour movement, journalists and the Kurdish movement in Turkey, opposing the Turkish government’s repression against them.
  2. NUS will write to Egitim-Sen (the Education and Science Workers’ Union – one of Turkey’s largest trade unions, which has suffered particularly heavily under the repression) offering our solidarity and seeking links.
  3. To donate £300 to solidarity fund established by the Education International union federation to support Egitim-Sen against repression.
  4. The VP Society and Citizenship, the NEC and the Zone Committee should investigate how we can build solidarity, including by establishing direct links with students’ organisations in Turkey.

Defend migrants and support free movement

Amendment to motion “Brexit means Brexit or so we’re told”

DELETE conference believes 9. and REPLACE with:

  1. That the outcome of the referendum, thanks in part to a dishonest Vote Leave campaign that misled many people, was regrettable. The outcome was also in part caused by the fact that the major remain campaigns inadequately explained the genuine causes of and solutions (such as those outlined above) to the problems many people experience. As such, it did not properly challenge the narrative of many arguing for Brexit.

ADD

Conference Believes:

  1. Recently announced plans to restrict international students’ visas, including linking universities’ ability to accept international students to “teaching quality,” most likely measured by TEF scores.
  2. In recent years, the government scrapped the post-study work visa, introduced NHS charges for non-EU students and deported tens of thousands of international students.
  3. Often the response by Vice-Chancellors and sections of the student movement to such attacks is insistence that international students are not migrants and should be treated differently,
  4. The arguments often emphasise how much international students contribute to the British economy by “funding our universities” (justifying sky-high fees) or emphasise the differences between students and migrant workers instead of challenging prejudice against both.
  5. The recent slide into anti-immigration, anti-free-movement politics by even some people on the left, including the Labour Party left.

Conference Further Believes:

  1. We must continue to defend free movement without shame, compromise or capitulation.
  2. Free movement is not against the interests of working class people. Migrant workers are part of the working class too; our politics of fighting for workers’ rights does not respect borders imposed by our rulers. Furthermore, the evidence shows that immigration does not substantially depress pay or conditions.
  3. Restricting immigration will therefore neither help UK-born nor migrant working-class people. Instead, such politics divide students and workers, damaging our ability to organise and fight against the common enemy that is actually responsible for low wages, shortages of housing and jobs, and overstretched public services – the rich and powerful, and the parties and politicians who serve their class interests.
  4. That attacks on international students and other migrant groups are based on the same racist and xenophobic ideology, and can only be defeated through active solidarity, not creating further divisions.
  5. We need to politically combat anti-migrant ideas, and advocate real solutions in their place, not concede the debate to right-wing lies.

Conference Resolves:

  1. To campaign to defend and extend freedom of movement and the right to free, accessible education for everyone, regardless of nationality. Blame not migrants, but the rich and powerful, the ruling class, for the problems facing working class people.
  2. To argue and campaign for a programme of immediate real solutions to the problems facing working class people, including: uniting migrant and British-born workers in trade unions to fight for improved pay and conditions for all; reversing anti-union laws; raising and enforcing the minimum wage; decent housing accessible for all; secure, decently-paid jobs, training and education for everyone; serious taxes on the rich and their businesses in order to redistribute wealth and reverse cuts, fund decent public services and rebuild the NHS.
  3. To fight against any further attacks on international students, including through direct action if necessary.
  4. To challenge the “students are not migrants” approach within the student movement and more broadly on the left, and to fight uncompromisingly against capitulation by the left and the student and trade union movements on migrant rights and free movement.

Scrap Trident

Conference Believes:

  1. Parliament voted last July to renew the UK’s Trident nuclear weapon system, at a cost of at least £205 billion.
  2. It was discovered in January that the Government had covered up a June 2016 test failure of a Trident missile.

Conference Further Believes:

  1. The supposed “deterrent” value of nuclear weapons depends on willingness to use them, which would mean vast numbers of civilian deaths immediately and for years to come.
  2. The government wants to spend billions on murderous weapons of mass destruction at the very time it is gutting public services. Our society is not short of money – there is huge wealth in the pockets of the rich – but this is a terrible way to spend those resources.
  3. The shipyards producing nuclear weapon-carrying submarines can be converted to produce something socially useful, without job losses.
  4. The workers involved in these projects should be guaranteed decent alternative jobs producing something socially useful, with no loss of pay or conditions.

Conference Resolves:

  1. To condemn the government’s decision to replace Trident and any further use or endorsement of nuclear arms.
  2. To campaign against replacing Trident and for nuclear disarmament on the basis set out above.
  3. To facilitate student unions to campaign for free education, jobs and services instead of nuclear weapons.

Fight Climate Change!

Conference Believes:

  1. The view of leading climate scientists that climate change exceeding 1.5°C is now likely
  2. Donald Trump’s appointments of fossil fuel executives such as Tillerson; his executive orders favouring construction of new fossil fuel pipelines; and his statements contradicting climate science
  3. That the government admits that 2.3 million families were living in fuel poverty this winter.
  4. That consumer energy prices are expected to rise 5% in 2017 – a price rise driven by gas prices.
  5. Profits of the Big Six energy firms (British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, ScottishPower and SSE) have increased tenfold since 2007.

Conference Further Believes:

  1. That organising our energy infrastructure for private profit instead of public use is wrong
  2. That private ownership of the energy infrastructure in the UK hurts people and obstructs renewable energy development
  3. That urgent action is needed on climate change – faster than is comfortable for the fossil fuels industry
  4. That the energy industry should be put under public ownership and democratic control.

Conference Resolves:

  1. To campaign for the nationalisation of the Big Six under democratic control as part of a renewed drive for student action against climate change
  2. To support protests against Trump’s rollback of progress on climate change

Abolish the Monarchy

Conference Believes:

  1. That Britain is still ruled by a hereditary monarch, who claims to be appointed by God, and who is the head of the official state religion
  2. That the Queen is due to receive an additional £2.8 million from the taxpayer in 2017-2018, making her total income in that year £45.6 million
  3. That in 1975 the Queen′s representative in Australia used royal powers to sack a left-wing Labour government.

Conference Further Believes:

  1. That Church and State should be separate.
  2. That the monarchy is an insult to human dignity: we ought to be equals and citizens, not subjects.
  3. That the monarchy is dangerous for democracy.
  4. That the monarchy should be abolished.

Conference Resolves:

  1. To issue a statement calling for a Republic.

Motion on BAE

Amendment to motion “Placements, Apprenticeships and Education For Good”

Conference Believes:

  1. BAE Systems, the UK’s biggest arms company, made over £25bn in sales in 2015, largely thanks to aircraft sales to the theocratic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  2. The aftermath of the attempted 2015 ‘coup’ in Turkey, which has seen 40,000 people imprisoned, crackdowns on civil liberties, allegations of widespread torture… and £330 million worth of arms sales to Turkey by the UK.
  3. The urgent need for more equipment for the NHS and production of new technologies to meet the challenges of climate change.
  4. The history of labour-movement led “conversion plans”, such as the 1974 Lucas Plan, drawn up by workers at the Lucas Aerospace plant, which provided a detailed plan for converting the arms factory to produce hybrid cars, hydroelectric turbines and kidney dialysis machines instead of warplanes.

Conference Further Believes:

  1. That Britain’s manufacturing industry should be converted to socially useful production along the lines of what the Lucas Plan advocated
  2. That we want nothing to do with BAE as currently constituted. No amount of money or employment is worth the deaths of our friends in other countries.

Conference Resolves:

  1. To instruct officers to refrain from any co-operation with BAE systems, of any kind.
  2. To call for the conversion of Britain’s defence manufacturing industry to production of socially-useful machinery to support medicine, civilian employment and the fight against climate change.
  3. To promote the history of labour-movement conversion plans such as the Lucas Plan.

Solidarity with the free West Papua cause

Conference Believes:

  1. That West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea, the other half being Papua New Guinea.
  2. That Indonesia has occupied West Papua since 1962/3.
  3. That the occupation was internationally legitimized by an ‘Act of Free Choice’ in 1969, whereby just over 1,000 hand-picked Indonesian representatives were bribed, coerced and threatened into voting for integration into Indonesia. [1]
  4. That international media and NGOs have been largely barred from entering the territory under Indonesian rule. [2]
  5. That credible estimates put the number Papuans killed since 1962 at over 100,000. [3]
  6. That several scholars have considered the term ‘genocide’ in relation Indonesia’s actions. [4]
  7. That indigenous Papuans overwhelmingly desire independence from Indonesia, and are ethnically, culturally and linguistically distinct from Indonesians.
  8. That Indonesia often runs operations to harass and intimidate the overseas independence movement. [5]
  9. That Papuan students have often led the campaign in the urban areas of West Papua to liberate their country, and have been met with brutal repression in turn. [6]
  10. That the UK has long supported the Indonesian occupation militarily, diplomatically and economically, and formally supports Indonesian sovereignty in West Papua. [1]
  11. The existence of several international campaigns for a new referendum in West Papua, including by the unified representative body of Papuans, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, and by a British swim team. The swim team will be swimming a global petition up Lake Geneva in August 2017. [7]

Conference Further Believes:

  1. The Indonesian occupation of West Papua is illegitimate and should end immediately.
  2. We should express solidarity with legitimate self-determination struggles, and particularly with students organizing to resist military occupation.
  3. The Act of Free Choice was a farcical denial of self-determination, and a new, free and fair referendum on independence should take place in the territory. Such a referendum should include the eligibility of all indigenous Papuans.
  4. The UK Government should cease all military training and arms transfers with Indonesia, and should cease supporting Indonesia’s claims over the territory.

Conference Resolves:

  1. To release a statement of solidarity with the free Papua cause, Papuan students and with the Free West Papua Campaign based in Oxford.
  2. That the NUS will give support to students in the UK engaging in solidarity work with the West Papuan struggle.

[1] http://wire.novaramedia.com/2016/04/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-indonesias-occupation-of-west-papua/

[2] Human Rights Watch (2015), Something to Hide? Indonesia’s Restrictions on Media Freedom and Rights Monitoring in Papua, Human Rights Watch: New York.

[3] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-27/human-rights-abuses-in-west-papua/4225844

[4] Sloan, J. S. & Tapol, The Neglected Genocide: Human rights abuses against Papuans in the Central Highlands, 1977–1978, Asian Human Rights Commission: Hong Kong & International Coalition for Papua: Wuppertal; Anderson, K. (2015), ‘Colonialism and Cold Genocide: The Case of West Papua’, Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal, 9(2), pp. 9-25; Brundige, E. et al. (2004), Indonesian Human Rights Abuses in West Papua: Application of the Law of Genocide to the History of Indonesian Control, Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School: Yale; and King, P. & Wing, J. (2005), Genocide in West Papua? The role of the Indonesian state apparatus and a current needs assessment of the Papuan people, West Papua Project, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney.

[5] http://lacuna.org.uk/protest/silencing-west-papuan-independence-supporters-overseas/

[6] MacLeod, J. (2014), Merdeka and The Morning Star: Civil resistance in West Papua, UQP, p.136.

[7] https://www.ulmwp.org/global-petition-swim-west-papua-launched-westminster


Union Development Zone

Education for resistance

Amendment to motion “Civic engagement through political education”

DELETE conference believes 1,2,3,4 and REPLACE with:

  1. Young people are repeatedly affected with the impact of policy decisions they do not agree with. There are many recent examples including unwanted reforms to education, the UK leaving the European Union and spiralling costs of living. These policy decisions are harmful, in particular to working-class people and people from other oppressed groups, and to young people within these groups.
  2. One aspect of this is because progressive young people are not politically engaged and active enough. In addition to when young people are actively shut out and not given a vote, we know much of this comes from lack of confidence. Another core reason for harmful policy is because our society and democracy is ran for the interests of the richest in society, old and young, and so contrary to the interests of the working-class and other oppressed groups, in particular young people in these groups.
  3. Confidence involves understanding the issues and understanding how participation can make a difference. There is also a necessary aspect of confidence which develops through active participation in struggle, especially struggle which is at least partly successful.
  4. Young people are not the only group who are often shut out of politics and are less politically confident – so are working class people and oppressed groups, and young people from those groups are particularly impacted.

ADD:

Conference Believes:

  1. A significant and necessary proportion of this education can and should be achieved by supporting and encouraging young people to actively engage in progressive struggle. This also helps us develop the skills and organisations necessary to bring about further progressive change.
  2. Barriers to young people’s and students’ participation in politics also include policies restricting activism, such as anti-union laws and Prevent, as well as universities trying to silence dissent.
  3. Political education can be liberating and empowering, but it can also be sanitised, teaching only “safe” and “respectable” forms of civic engagement and used to discourage radical action.
  4. Direct action can be a necessary and effective tactic in achieving social and political change, as countless examples in history prove – from the mutinies that ended WW1 to suffragettes, strikers to the civil rights movement, and poll tax non-payment, to name just a few.

DELETE from conference resolves 1:

  • “accredited”

DELETE conference resolves 5,6 and REPLACE with:

  1. NUS will take a democratic approach to political education, seeking to empower and support students to educate themselves and each other, and to engage in political struggle. NUS should support member unions in supporting their students in doing so.
  2. As part of supporting their political education, to support students in struggling for the interests of our class and other oppressed groups, and struggling to create a better society for everyone. To support students to develop the skills and organisations necessary to do so.

ADD:

Conference Resolves:

  1. That the political education we offer should include information about different forms of direct action and the ways it was used in history to fight injustice.
  2. To resist attacks on our political rights and freedoms, including the disarming of our collective organisations through anti-union laws
  3. To defend students’ unions, activists and student journalists whenever they are being victimised, by the state or by universities, for their political activity.

Motions & Amendments for Conference January 2017

Graphic reading "NCAFC Winter Conference 2017 // University of Warwick // 14th-15th January"

In the run up to our 2017 Winter conference 14-15 January in Warwick, affiliated groups have submitted the following motions, and members have submitted the following amendments, about what NCAFC should be campaigning on and how the National Campaign should be run.

For more info on motions, amendments and how our conference democracy works, check out this guide.

If you haven’t registered for conference yet, make sure you do (fill out the registration form) and book your transport today! You can find more info about what to expect via the Facebook event and the guide/agenda.


Political motions:

Organisational motions:

Appendix


Political motions

No to the “good vs. bad migrants” rhetoric!

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC notes:

  1. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has recently announced plans to restrict international students visas.
  2. These plans include linking universities’ ability to accept international students to “teaching quality,” most likely measured byTEF scores.
  3. In recent years, the government has already scrapped the post-study work visa, introduced NHS charges for non-EU students and deported tens of thousands of international students.
  4. Often the response to attacks on international students is to insist that they are not migrants and should be treated differently. This is the approach taken not only by Vice-Chancellors but also by sections of the student movement.
  5. The arguments often rely on how much international students contribute to the British economy by “funding our universities” (justifying sky-high fees) or by emphasising the differences between students and migrant workers instead of challenging prejudice against both.

NCAFC believes:

  1. That freedom of movement is a right and we need to resist any attempts to distinguish between “good” and “bad” migrants.
  2. That the left needs to defend all migrants on principle, not on the basis of how much they contribute to the economy.
  3. That attacks on international students and other migrant groups are based on the same racist and xenophobic ideology, and can only be defeated through active solidarity, not creating further divisions.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To campaign for freedom of movement and the right to a free, accessible education for everyone, regardless of nationality.
  2. To fight against any further attacks on international students, including through direct action if necessary.
  3. To challenge the “students are not migrants” approach within the student movement and more broadly on the left.

Amendment

Submitted by Connor Woodman

  1. Delete believes 3: “That the left needs to defend all migrants on principle, not on the basis of how much they contribute to the economy” and replace with: “3. That the left needs to defend all migrants on principle, as well as on the basis of how much they contribute to the economy.”

 

Hold the line: defend free movement

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC notes:

  1. The recent slide into anti-immigration, anti-free- movement politics by even some people on the left of the Labour Party.

NCAFC believes:

  1. We have to continue to defend free movement without shame, compromise or capitulation.
  2. It is a lie that free movement is against the interests of working class people. First, because migrant workers are part of the working class too – our politics of fighting for workers’ rights does not respect the borders imposed by our rulers. Second, because the often-repeated claim that immigration substantially depresses pay and conditions is not actually supported by the evidence.
  3. Restricting immigration will therefore not help either UK-born or migrant working-class people. Instead, this politics serve to divide workers, damaging our ability to organise and fight against the common enemy that is actually responsible for low wages, shortages of housing and jobs, and overstretched public services – the rich and powerful, and the parties and politicians who serve their class interests.
  4. The left needs to politically combat anti-migrant ideas, and advocate real solutions in their place, not concede the debate to right-wing lies.
  5. The result of the EU referendum does not oblige us to stop working to change minds and change policies.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To continue fighting to defend and extend free movement, and to place the blame for the problems facing working class people where it belongs – not on migrants, but the rich and powerful, the ruling class.
  2. To fight uncompromisingly against capitulation by the left on this issue, especially by parts of the Labour left, Labour Students left, and the trade union movement.
  3. To argue and campaign for a programme of immediate real solutions to the problems facing working class people, including: uniting migrant and British-born workers in trade unions to fight for improved pay and conditions for all; reversing the anti-union laws; raising and enforcing the minimum wage; decent housing accessible to all; secure, decently-paid jobs, training and education for everyone; serious taxes on the rich and their businesses in order to redistribute wealth and reverse cuts, fund decent public services and rebuild the NHS.

Amendments

Submitted by Michael Muir: 

  1. Delete the word “defend” from Resolves.
  2. Delete Resolves 2: “To fight uncompromisingly against capitulation by the left on this issue, especially by parts of the Labour left, Labour Students left, and the trade union movement.”

 

The campaign to #stoptheHEreforms

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC notes

  1. The higher education reforms are still progressing through Parliament, with changes so far securing only very minor improvements (e.g. the addition of token student representation at the proposed Office for Students).
  2. We successfully passed proposals through NUS conference 2016 to organise a national demonstration in November, and to boycott the NSS unless and until the reforms are withdrawn, starting now in 2017.

NCAFC believes

  1. Fighting the reforms should remain a priority campaign for NCAFC.
  2. We have secured real improvements in NUS’s approach, compared to previous campaigns. However, it has still been lacking.
  3. We must be honest that the national demonstration was not the success it should have been. There were “managerial” failures by the NUS leadership and student unions, but fundamentally the problem was political:
    1. The leadership made the demo about everything in general, instead of foregrounding the clear and specific demands, which could inspire and explain, that we set out in policy (on the HE reforms as well as grants and FE cuts). We need to continue arguing that actions must be linked to uncompromising and straightforwardly understandable demands and slogans.
    2. The leadership organised the demonstration as a march in London. But for activists, the day of a demo is only the tip of an iceberg. The process of organising a demo should be used to build local groups, educate, argue, organise and persuade in many local areas. Local issues and demands should be linked to the programme of the demo. The march itself should be followed by a vigorous and well-planned campaign of subsequent action.
  4. The NSS boycott has value as an industrial-style tactic: complementing purely protest action by materially disrupting the running of the education system to gain leverage for concessions. To win, we may have to maintain the boycott beyond this year.
  5. As well as contending with right-wingers who have attempted to undermine and disrupt the action, we need to address a number of failings by the NUS leadership:
    1. They have bypassed democratic policy to set a different negotiating position – not to drop the reforms, but just to break the link between TEF scores and fee levels. We need a clear, straightforward political message and negotiating position, not a technocratic and watered-down one.
    2. At times, they have been timid and apologetic about the action.
    3. They have not built the boycott with as much vigour as they could, and don’t seem to have accepted the scale of the operation needed, beyond working with sabbs, to speak directly to students nationally and equip campus activists with resources.
    4. Sabbatical officers have been treated as gatekeepers to their unions’ members, and as if they have the right to determine whether and how NUS may implement decisions already made. Local officers should be called on to support the strategy’s implementation as a basic point of collective union solidarity, and NUS should promote the action to all students, not limit outreach to only the campuses where officers endorse the action.
  6. There is already a right-wing backlash against the actions organised so far. We should not be bounced into uncritically defending the current leadership. We need to defend the value of protest and direct action on the basis of our own understanding of how it can best be carried out, and keep constructively criticising, arguing and contesting in NUS to improve the organisation of the campaign.

NCAFC resolves

  1. To keep the fight to stop the HE reforms as a major priority for the coming period. If they pass into law, the campaign will call for their reversal.
  2. To support this, we call for further protest and direct action, and we will be clear about our political criticisms of the NUS leadership, and our alternative proposals, in order to press for change.
  3. Politically, we maintain the campaign needs to foreground clear, specific slogans and demands, while adding context with a wider political response: a publicly-owned education system, run democratically for social good.

Amendments

Submitted by Connor Woodman:

  1. Add Notes: “3. That the House of Lords voted against the Higher Education and Research bill in January 2017″

 

Developing a vision for a National Education Service

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC notes

  1. Jeremy Corbyn has floated the proposal of a cradle-to- grave, free National Education Service. He has specifically raised: reversing adult education cuts to build lifelong learning by raising corporation tax; universal free childcare; abolishing tuition fees; equalising the minimum wage for apprentices and providing good apprenticeships.

NCAFC believes

  1. These proposals are good but much of what an NES would mean is still unspecified. That means we have a big opportunity to influence its development through political debate and agitation.
  2. NCAFCers have devoted a lot of thought to what our vision of a revolutionised education system might look like. A policy like this, potentially to be taken up by the Labour Party, is a concrete vehicle through which that vision could be thrust into high-profile public debate and hopefully translated into reality.
  3. Transforming the education system cannot be successfully imposed from above –there has to be some grassroots ownership of the programme, and mobilisation from below to support, and hold to account, its implementation.
  4. This weekend includes a lot of discussion of the NES, so this motion should not pre-empt that with a finished policy. However, based on NCAFC’s existing principles and previous discussions, we can say that an NES should:
    1. Be universally accessible free of charge, with financial support through living grants/stipends for all.
    2. Replace the chaos of market competition between institutions with an integrated service that is rationally and democratically organised to serve social good, rather the interests of the capitalist class.
    3. Build on existing ideas about the “Comprehensive University” to break down arbitrary barriers within the curriculum and between streams of education, including between further and higher education, and “vocational” and “academic” study.
    4. Be publicly owned and secular, and democratically governed by its students, workers and the communities it serves.
    5. Through democratic control of the curriculum, allow us to overturn the sometimes overwhelming dominance of ruling ideologies in what is taught, opening space for radical, subversive, liberatory and marginalised ideas and perspectives.
    6. Provide its workers with secure, decently-paid jobs and good conditions.
    7. Include universal free childcare.
    8. Be well resourced, by taxing the rich and their businesses and expropriating the banks.

NCAFC resolves

  1. Based on these points, this conference’s workshops, and previous and ongoing discussions, the NC will lead development of a set of proposals setting out our vision for an NES.
  2. To discuss with organised education workers in particular, as we develop these proposals.
  3. To agitate and campaign for the adoption of these proposals, particularly in the student and trade union movements and by Labour.

Amendment

Submitted by Michael Muir:

  1. Delete the word “secular” from Believes 4 (d)

 

The battle in the Labour Party

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC believes:

  1. NCAFC is, and should remain, independent from political parties and open to activists who are members of different parties and of none.
  2. Nevertheless, we have previously voted to recognise involvement in the Labour Party as one useful course of action left-wing education activists can take, due to the pivotal role that its student wing has played in NUS, its powerful position in UK politics, and its links to the organised workers’ movement. We have voted to offer support to Labour leftists campaigning to re-orient Labour and Labour Students towards free education, encouraged activists to get involved, and supported Jeremy Corbyn’s successful bid to lead the party.
  3. Now the situation in Labour – a battle to win the party for socialism – is an historic opportunity to advance the left, including the causes and ideas for which NCAFC stands.

NCAFC further believes:

  1. There is worthwhile work to be done – in terms of both local activism and advancing left-wing politics – in campus Labour Clubs and local Labour parties. NCAFC should support and encourage this work.
  2. To be successful in the Labour Party, as elsewhere, the left needs genuinely grassroots-democratic organising, through which we can debate and develop our ideas, policies and proposals for the party, and campaign to change minds and shift the wider party. This is similar to the basis on which NCAFC has organised in the student union movement. The establishment of Momentum is welcome. It has the potential to be that organisation, and so the present debates about its form, purpose and politics are crucial.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To remain a united front of education activists from different organisations and none.
  2. To encourage and support the struggle in the Labour Party as one useful avenue, and therefore to offer support and encouragement to student activists getting involved, particularly in campus Labour Clubs.
  3. As some of us get involved in Labour, the Labour left and Momentum, to bring with not only our politics around education specifically, but also NCAFC’s broader ideas and attitudes on the importance of participatory democracy, open debate and political clarity, for developing and advancing left-wing politics.

Amendments

Submitted by Michael Muir:

  1. Add Believes: “3. NCAFC is not, cannot be and should not be a Labour Party or Momentum faction. To do so would be to interfere with its core function as a broad, grassroots activist organisation.”
  2. Add Believes: “4. Momentum Youth and Students is a broad, democratic and open faction for young people and students on the Labour Left.”
  3. Delete: Resolves: “1. To remain a united front of education activists from different organisations and none.” and replace with “1. To encourage and support activists as they fight for a policy of a free, liberated and decolonised education within the Labour Party’s youth and student structures.”
  4. Delete Resolves: “3. As some of us get involved in Labour, the Labour left and Momentum, to bring with not only our politics around education specifically, but also NCAFC’s broader ideas and attitudes on the importance of participatory democracy, open debate and political clarity, for developing and advancing left-wing politics.” And replace with: ‘”3. To encourage NCAFC members to involve themselves in Momentum Youth and Students as the only broad left faction in Young Labour capable of establishing meaningful political and organisational change.”

 

Organisational motions

Submitting motions (Constitutional amendment)

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC believes:

  1. Currently, only groups affiliated to NCAFC can submit motions to NCAFC Conferences.
  2. The nature of student activism has changed. Whereas in the past NCAFC membership mostly consisted of activists in local anti-cuts groups, there are now fewer active groups, and many NCAFC members come from campuses where there isn’t one.
  3. While we should still encourage building local groups, we need to acknowledge the changes in the student movement and make sure all NCAFC members have the ability to propose policy.
  4. Summer Conference is equally important as Winter Conference, and should have the power to amend the constitution.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To amend the constitution as follows:

Delete 4.A.4.2 and replace with

Motions can be proposed by: local anti-cuts groups and other groups affiliated to NCAFC, the National Committee, or a group of at least seven NCAFC members.

Delete 4.A.7.1 and replace with

To debate motions and constitutional amendments

Amendments

Submitted by Ed Maltby:

  1. Add believes: “5. In many cases where there is no separate NCAFC-affiliated activist/anti-cuts group, NCAFC supporters will be active in other leftwing groupings such as Labour Clubs.”
  2. Add believes: “6. We should adapt our training and written guidance to activists to this situation: educational material from NCAFC should not presume the existence of anti-cuts groups on the 2011 model: NCAFC should support the creation of radical student organisations at the campus level that fit the current situation.”

 

Abolishing the Secretariat (Constitutional amendment)

Submitted by the National Committee

NCAFC notes:

  1. The Secretariat is currently appointed by the National Committee (NC). It has the task of overseeing democratic procedure at NCAFC events, including conference and in practice, at times, meetings of the National Committee.
  2. A proposal to make the Secretariat elected was rejected at the last winter conference.
  3. It has often been difficult to find appropriate and willing candidates for the post.
  4. At various times during the post’s existence it has been unfilled, or its occupant(s) have been unable to perform the role, and the National Committee has had to perform these roles itself. This has not been a problem. NC members have been assigned to make arrangements for meetings, and have formed working groups to oversee the running of conferences.
  5. Despite the good work of members of the Secretariat over the time the post has existed, this is arguably preferable as NC members, being elected, are more democratically accountable.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To amend the constitution to abolish the Secretariat, and transfer oversight of its responsibilities to the NC.
    1. Amend 4.A.3.1. – “The NC and the Secretariat has ultimate responsibility for setting the agenda of conferences and other events, and ensuring their smooth and democratic running
    2. Amend 4.A.4.1. – “A motions and proposals deadline must be set by the Secretariat the NC, or its delegated conference working group, ahead of conference”
    3. Amend 4.B. – NCAFC has two one standing committees: the National Committee (NC) and the Secretariat
    4. Delete all of 4.B.3. and 4.B.4.

 

A New Behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure

Submitted by the National Committee

NCAFC notes:

  1. Our Summer Conference 2016 instructed the National Committee to propose a replacement for our existing Safer Spaces Policy.

NCAFC resolves

  1. To adopt the Behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure contained in the appendix to this motions document.

Amendment

Submitted by Andrew Warren

  1. Delete point 3 of the Complaints Procedure: “If the complaint is deemed serious enough, a group of NC members should be convened to investigate the complaint. Factors such as the diversity of the group and members’ relationships to the accused/complainant (unless submitted anonymously) should be considered to ensure as representative and fair a group as possible.” And replace with: “If the complaint is deemed serious enough, a standing committee appointed by the NC will investigate the complaint. When appointing the standing committee, factors such as the diversity of the group and members’ relationships to the accused/complainant (unless submitted anonymously) should be considered to ensure as representative and fair a group as possible. The NC will also appoint reserves, to take over if a committee member is unavailable or unsuitable due to their relationship to the accused.”

 

NCAFC & direct action

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC notes:

  1. That since the inception of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, the belief that grassroots direct action is an integral part of achieving political and social change has been a core principle of the organisation.
  2. That this vocal belief has set NCAFC apart from many other groups and organisations on the student left.
  3. That over the last couple of years, levels of grassroots activity happening on campuses has decreased somewhat.
  4. That, nonetheless, NCAFC continues to be contacted by activists asking for support and advice when it comes to planning and carrying out direct action.

NCAFC believes:

  1. That direct action will never not be relevant, useful and important in the fight for free, democratic and accessible education.
  2. That recent successes such as the occupation at Warwick have shown that commitment to direct action still exists in the movement and that it can be very effective.
  3. That in the fight against this government’s plans to marketise higher education, direct action on both local and national levels is essential, and thus we need activists and SU officers across the country to be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to plan and carry out direct action.
  4. That as well as practical knowledge, it’s important that activists have access to strong political and historical arguments as to why direct action is powerful and necessary.
  5. That NUS has started to do more work in this area, but that a lot is still lacking.
  6. That it’s important that within the active membership, and especially the National Committee, of NCAFC, we have a significant number of activists with first-hand experience and knowledge when it comes to direct action, who can be called upon to share that expertise with fellow members and/or with activist groups if requested.
  7. That whilst it’s important to recognise the ways in which the student movement is shifting and changing, and to adapt our political strategies accordingly, we must ensure that we do not lose all connection with direct action and that it remains a core aspect of our broad strategy in pushing for change.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. That as part of the updated version of the NCAFC website, there will be a “direct action hub” which will contain: key political arguments on why direct action is effective and necessary, a brief history of direct action in the student movement, links to useful practical resources on direct action, as well as a clear indication that activists are welcome to get in touch with us if they want any help/support/advice relating to direct action (including the offer for NCAFC to facilitate/co-facilitate direct action workshops on campuses).
  2. That we will continue to argue within NUS for a national union which not only coordinates direct action on a national level, but also actively supports grassroots direct action happening on campuses.
  3. That there should always be at least one workshop on direct action at our annual summer training event, incorporating both political and practical knowledge.
  4. That, where politically useful and appropriate, NCAFC will actively seek to collaborate with other grassroots organisations to coordinate direct action around educational issues.

 

Integrating newly-elected NC members into the National Committee

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC notes that:

  1. Often new NC members are expected to pick up their tasks and roles with little guidance, and can feel isolated unless they are already close to experienced NC members.
  2. Often a small number of NC members take on most of the work of maintaining the organisation, and that often some new NC members are never fully integrated into the NC.

NCAFC believes that:

  1. There is an expectation that all NC members should, barring situations where personal circumstances are having an impact on capacity and ability to organise, make an effort to engage in collective discussions, decision making and regular tasks. All NC members should be active in one permanent working group.
  2. Sometimes NC members have to take time off from organising and step back from active involvement.
  3. Sometimes NC members don’t feel supported or knowledgeable enough to fulfil their role adequately.

NCAFC resolves to:

  1. Implement an initial training brief for all new NC members. This will constitute a face-to-face or Skype session introducing the new NC member to decision making processes, communication platforms, working groups, expected tasks for NC members, NCAFC events and so on.
  2. Implement a ‘buddy system’ for new NC members. This will involve assigning each new NC member to a current NC member who will act as a point of contact for the new member for the first 2-3 months in the position. The older NC member will answer questions, check in with the new NC member, encourage them to take up tasks and help them complete them.

Amendment

Submitted by Ben Towse

  1. Delete the following sentence from Believes 1: “All NC members should be active in one permanent working group.”

Appendix

NCAFC Behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure

Proposed in motion “A new behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure”

NCAFC is committed to fighting for an education system that is public, democratic, open and accessible to all, and oriented towards free enquiry, the needs and interests of society, and liberation from existing hierarchies and oppressions. We seek to dismantle, rather than perpetuate, existing oppressions and hierarchies within our communities and campaigns. We are a democratic political organisation, so discussion, debate and democratic processes are how we work through our disagreements and collective decisions.

If we are to achieve these aims, we must expect certain standards of behaviour of ourselves and those involved in our organisation, both at our events and in wider society.

We must not:

  1. discriminate against anyone on the basis of ethnicity, sex, gender, religion, age, sexuality, language, disability, asylum status or any other structurally oppressive criteria
  2. perpetrate verbal, physical or sexual abuse, bullying or violence

In addition, we expect ourselves and each other, as members and participants at our events, to:

  1. behave in a comradely and co-operative way towards one another
  2. avoid causing those around us unnecessary offence or anxiety
  3. respect the facilitatory methods of the Chair and only challenge them through the appropriate structures
  4. listen to others when they are speaking, not interrupt and wait for our turn to speak
  5. treat one another with respect, debating political ideas where we disagree without resorting to personal attacks or disrespectful language
  6. respect the aims and democratic processes of NCAFC and behave with honesty and integrity

We all have a responsibility to each other and NCAFC to uphold these standards of behaviour and challenge others around us if they fail to meet these standards. If you feel that anyone’s behaviour is not meeting these standards, in general, the first recourse should be to speak to this person privately and informally about their behaviour, or ask another member or NC member to do so. However, in cases where someone’s behaviour fails to meet these standards in a serious way, especially with regards to points 1. and 2., or repeatedly fails to meet these standards, a formal complaint may be submitted.

Complaints Procedure

  1. To make a formal complaint about a member or attendee at an event, the complainant should write to the National Committee, or if they prefer an NC member (or members) of their choice, who can discuss the complaint with the rest of the NC while preserving the complainant’s anonymity.
  2. Upon receiving the complaint, the NC will decide whether or not to investigate the complaint. All complaints should be treated seriously and assumed to be submitted in good faith unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary. If the complaint is against a NC member, they are not to take part in any discussions or decisions relating to the complaint and the rest of the NC may also decide to suspend them from the NC pending the outcome of the complaint.
  3. If the complaint is deemed serious enough, a group of NC members should be convened to investigate the complaint. Factors such as the diversity of the group and members’ relationships to the accused/complainant (unless submitted anonymously) should be considered to ensure as representative and fair a group as possible.
  4. The group will ask for any statement from the complainant in addition to their complaint. The accused will be informed of the details of the complaint made against them, with the complainant’s wishes regarding anonymity respected, and will also be asked for a statement. The group may also ask questions of the complainant and accused, and any other people as it deems necessary. The group should proceed with sensitivity and unintrusiveness if asking questions of a complainant whose complaint is on the basis of abuse or violence.
  5. While the procedure is ongoing, the NC may take the decision to suspend the member or ban them from attending events, including asking them to leave an event if a complaint is made during an event, pending the outcome of the investigation.
  6. When the group has considered the statements of the complainant and accused and any other information they have gathered, they will decide whether the accused’s behaviour:
    1. is a threat to the functioning of the organisation
    2. runs contrary to the aims of the organisation
    3. discriminates against members of oppressed groups
    4. poses a danger or harm to members of the organisation
  7. If the accused’s behaviour meets any of these criteria, the group will suggest a course of action the NC should take, which could include but is not limited to: giving the perpetrator a warning about their behaviour, banning the perpetrator from events and/or expelling them from the organisation.
  8. The NC will have the final decision as to the course of action to take, according to any conditions or procedures set out in the constitution, with the delegated group’s recommendations considered.
  9. The process up to this point should take no more than either 30 days from the original complaint or 5 days after the soonest NC meeting after the complaint was made, whichever is longer.The NC members are to treat all statements received and answers to questions as confidential and are not to talk about the details of the investigation to anyone outside the NC.
  10. If the complainant and/or accused disagrees with the decision, they can appeal the decision by writing to the NC within 30 days of the outcome. The NC can decide to uphold the decision, review the course of action or reopen the investigation, convening a different delegated group but following the same procedures as listed above. No further appeals can be made after this point.
  11. If the accused is expelled, they may apply for membership again in the future and the NC will make the decision to accept or reject their membership at the time their application is received.
  12. In cases where the complaint is related to verbal, physical or sexual abuse, bullying or violence, NC members will work with the complainant, if the complainant so wishes, to ensure that they have a support group around them and access to relevant services.

Amendment

An amendment has been submitted to this proposed policy: see above.

Return to motion “A new behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure”

Motions for Conference January 2017

Graphic reading "NCAFC Winter Conference 2017 // University of Warwick // 14th-15th January"

UPDATE: The deadline for amendments has now passed. You can see the full document with motions and amendments here.

In the run up to our 2017 Winter conference 14-15 January in Warwick, affiliated groups have submitted the following motions about what NCAFC should be campaigning on and how the National Campaign should be run.

All members of NCAFC can submit amendments to these motions – just email them to againstfeesandcuts@gmail.com by 23:30 Wednesday 11 January. For more info on motions, amendments and how our conference democracy works, check out this guide.

If you haven’t registered for conference yet, make sure you do (fill out the registration form) and book your transport today! You can find more info about what to expect via the Facebook event and the guide/agenda.


Political motions:

Organisational motions:

Appendix


Political motions

No to the “good vs. bad migrants” rhetoric!

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC notes:

  1. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has recently announced plans to restrict international students visas.
  2. These plans include linking universities’ ability to accept international students to “teaching quality,” most likely measured byTEF scores.
  3. In recent years, the government has already scrapped the post-study work visa, introduced NHS charges for non-EU students and deported tens of thousands of international students.
  4. Often the response to attacks on international students is to insist that they are not migrants and should be treated differently. This is the approach taken not only by Vice-Chancellors but also by sections of the student movement.
  5. The arguments often rely on how much international students contribute to the British economy by “funding our universities” (justifying sky-high fees) or by emphasising the differences between students and migrant workers instead of challenging prejudice against both.

NCAFC believes:

  1. That freedom of movement is a right and we need to resist any attempts to distinguish between “good” and “bad” migrants.
  2. That the left needs to defend all migrants on principle, not on the basis of how much they contribute to the economy.
  3. That attacks on international students and other migrant groups are based on the same racist and xenophobic ideology, and can only be defeated through active solidarity, not creating further divisions.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To campaign for freedom of movement and the right to a free, accessible education for everyone, regardless of nationality.
  2. To fight against any further attacks on international students, including through direct action if necessary.
  3. To challenge the “students are not migrants” approach within the student movement and more broadly on the left.

Hold the line: defend free movement

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC notes:

  1. The recent slide into anti-immigration, anti-free- movement politics by even some people on the left of the Labour Party.

NCAFC believes:

  1. We have to continue to defend free movement without shame, compromise or capitulation.
  2. It is a lie that free movement is against the interests of working class people. First, because migrant workers are part of the working class too – our politics of fighting for workers’ rights does not respect the borders imposed by our rulers. Second, because the often-repeated claim that immigration substantially depresses pay and conditions is not actually supported by the evidence.
  3. Restricting immigration will therefore not help either UK-born or migrant working-class people. Instead, this politics serve to divide workers, damaging our ability to organise and fight against the common enemy that is actually responsible for low wages, shortages of housing and jobs, and overstretched public services – the rich and powerful, and the parties and politicians who serve their class interests.
  4. The left needs to politically combat anti-migrant ideas, and advocate real solutions in their place, not concede the debate to right-wing lies.
  5. The result of the EU referendum does not oblige us to stop working to change minds and change policies.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To continue fighting to defend and extend free movement, and to place the blame for the problems facing working class people where it belongs – not on migrants, but the rich and powerful, the ruling class.
  2. To fight uncompromisingly against capitulation by the left on this issue, especially by parts of the Labour left, Labour Students left, and the trade union movement.
  3. To argue and campaign for a programme of immediate real solutions to the problems facing working class people, including: uniting migrant and British-born workers in trade unions to fight for improved pay and conditions for all; reversing the anti-union laws; raising and enforcing the minimum wage; decent housing accessible to all; secure, decently-paid jobs, training and education for everyone; serious taxes on the rich and their businesses in order to redistribute wealth and reverse cuts, fund decent public services and rebuild the NHS.

The campaign to #stoptheHEreforms

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC notes

  1. The higher education reforms are still progressing through Parliament, with changes so far securing only very minor improvements (e.g. the addition of token student representation at the proposed Office for Students).
  2. We successfully passed proposals through NUS conference 2016 to organise a national demonstration in November, and to boycott the NSS unless and until the reforms are withdrawn, starting now in 2017.

NCAFC believes

  1. Fighting the reforms should remain a priority campaign for NCAFC.
  2. We have secured real improvements in NUS’s approach, compared to previous campaigns. However, it has still been lacking.
  3. We must be honest that the national demonstration was not the success it should have been. There were “managerial” failures by the NUS leadership and student unions, but fundamentally the problem was political:
    1. The leadership made the demo about everything in general, instead of foregrounding the clear and specific demands, which could inspire and explain, that we set out in policy (on the HE reforms as well as grants and FE cuts). We need to continue arguing that actions must be linked to uncompromising and straightforwardly understandable demands and slogans.
    2. The leadership organised the demonstration as a march in London. But for activists, the day of a demo is only the tip of an iceberg. The process of organising a demo should be used to build local groups, educate, argue, organise and persuade in many local areas. Local issues and demands should be linked to the programme of the demo. The march itself should be followed by a vigorous and well-planned campaign of subsequent action.
  4. The NSS boycott has value as an industrial-style tactic: complementing purely protest action by materially disrupting the running of the education system to gain leverage for concessions. To win, we may have to maintain the boycott beyond this year.
  5. As well as contending with right-wingers who have attempted to undermine and disrupt the action, we need to address a number of failings by the NUS leadership:
    1. They have bypassed democratic policy to set a different negotiating position – not to drop the reforms, but just to break the link between TEF scores and fee levels. We need a clear, straightforward political message and negotiating position, not a technocratic and watered-down one.
    2. At times, they have been timid and apologetic about the action.
    3. They have not built the boycott with as much vigour as they could, and don’t seem to have accepted the scale of the operation needed, beyond working with sabbs, to speak directly to students nationally and equip campus activists with resources.
    4. Sabbatical officers have been treated as gatekeepers to their unions’ members, and as if they have the right to determine whether and how NUS may implement decisions already made. Local officers should be called on to support the strategy’s implementation as a basic point of collective union solidarity, and NUS should promote the action to all students, not limit outreach to only the campuses where officers endorse the action.
  6. There is already a right-wing backlash against the actions organised so far. We should not be bounced into uncritically defending the current leadership. We need to defend the value of protest and direct action on the basis of our own understanding of how it can best be carried out, and keep constructively criticising, arguing and contesting in NUS to improve the organisation of the campaign.

NCAFC resolves

  1. To keep the fight to stop the HE reforms as a major priority for the coming period. If they pass into law, the campaign will call for their reversal.
  2. To support this, we call for further protest and direct action, and we will be clear about our political criticisms of the NUS leadership, and our alternative proposals, in order to press for change.
  3. Politically, we maintain the campaign needs to foreground clear, specific slogans and demands, while adding context with a wider political response: a publicly-owned education system, run democratically for social good.

Developing a vision for a National Education Service

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC notes

  1. Jeremy Corbyn has floated the proposal of a cradle-to- grave, free National Education Service. He has specifically raised: reversing adult education cuts to build lifelong learning by raising corporation tax; universal free childcare; abolishing tuition fees; equalising the minimum wage for apprentices and providing good apprenticeships.

NCAFC believes

  1. These proposals are good but much of what an NES would mean is still unspecified. That means we have a big opportunity to influence its development through political debate and agitation.
  2. NCAFCers have devoted a lot of thought to what our vision of a revolutionised education system might look like. A policy like this, potentially to be taken up by the Labour Party, is a concrete vehicle through which that vision could be thrust into high-profile public debate and hopefully translated into reality.
  3. Transforming the education system cannot be successfully imposed from above –there has to be some grassroots ownership of the programme, and mobilisation from below to support, and hold to account, its implementation.
  4. This weekend includes a lot of discussion of the NES, so this motion should not pre-empt that with a finished policy. However, based on NCAFC’s existing principles and previous discussions, we can say that an NES should:
    1. Be universally accessible free of charge, with financial support through living grants/stipends for all.
    2. Replace the chaos of market competition between institutions with an integrated service that is rationally and democratically organised to serve social good, rather the interests of the capitalist class.
    3. Build on existing ideas about the “Comprehensive University” to break down arbitrary barriers within the curriculum and between streams of education, including between further and higher education, and “vocational” and “academic” study.
    4. Be publicly owned and secular, and democratically governed by its students, workers and the communities it serves.
    5. Through democratic control of the curriculum, allow us to overturn the sometimes overwhelming dominance of ruling ideologies in what is taught, opening space for radical, subversive, liberatory and marginalised ideas and perspectives.
    6. Provide its workers with secure, decently-paid jobs and good conditions.
    7. Include universal free childcare.
    8. Be well resourced, by taxing the rich and their businesses and expropriating the banks.

NCAFC resolves

  1. Based on these points, this conference’s workshops, and previous and ongoing discussions, the NC will lead development of a set of proposals setting out our vision for an NES.
  2. To discuss with organised education workers in particular, as we develop these proposals.
  3. To agitate and campaign for the adoption of these proposals, particularly in the student and trade union movements and by Labour.

The battle in the Labour Party

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC believes:

  1. NCAFC is, and should remain, independent from political parties and open to activists who are members of different parties and of none.
  2. Nevertheless, we have previously voted to recognise involvement in the Labour Party as one useful course of action left-wing education activists can take, due to the pivotal role that its student wing has played in NUS, its powerful position in UK politics, and its links to the organised workers’ movement. We have voted to offer support to Labour leftists campaigning to re-orient Labour and Labour Students towards free education, encouraged activists to get involved, and supported Jeremy Corbyn’s successful bid to lead the party.
  3. Now the situation in Labour – a battle to win the party for socialism – is an historic opportunity to advance the left, including the causes and ideas for which NCAFC stands.

NCAFC further believes:

  1. There is worthwhile work to be done – in terms of both local activism and advancing left-wing politics – in campus Labour Clubs and local Labour parties. NCAFC should support and encourage this work.
  2. To be successful in the Labour Party, as elsewhere, the left needs genuinely grassroots-democratic organising, through which we can debate and develop our ideas, policies and proposals for the party, and campaign to change minds and shift the wider party. This is similar to the basis on which NCAFC has organised in the student union movement. The establishment of Momentum is welcome. It has the potential to be that organisation, and so the present debates about its form, purpose and politics are crucial.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To remain a united front of education activists from different organisations and none.
  2. To encourage and support the struggle in the Labour Party as one useful avenue, and therefore to offer support and encouragement to student activists getting involved, particularly in campus Labour Clubs.
  3. As some of us get involved in Labour, the Labour left and Momentum, to bring with not only our politics around education specifically, but also NCAFC’s broader ideas and attitudes on the importance of participatory democracy, open debate and political clarity, for developing and advancing left-wing politics.

Organisational motions

Submitting motions (Constitutional amendment)

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC believes:

  1. Currently, only groups affiliated to NCAFC can submit motions to NCAFC Conferences.
  2. The nature of student activism has changed. Whereas in the past NCAFC membership mostly consisted of activists in local anti-cuts groups, there are now fewer active groups, and many NCAFC members come from campuses where there isn’t one.
  3. While we should still encourage building local groups, we need to acknowledge the changes in the student movement and make sure all NCAFC members have the ability to propose policy.
  4. Summer Conference is equally important as Winter Conference, and should have the power to amend the constitution.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To amend the constitution as follows:

Delete 4.A.4.2 and replace with

Motions can be proposed by: local anti-cuts groups and other groups affiliated to NCAFC, the National Committee, or a group of at least seven NCAFC members.

Delete 4.A.7.1 and replace with

To debate motions and constitutional amendments

Abolishing the Secretariat (Constitutional amendment)

Submitted by the National Committee

NCAFC notes:

  1. The Secretariat is currently appointed by the National Committee (NC). It has the task of overseeing democratic procedure at NCAFC events, including conference and in practice, at times, meetings of the National Committee.
  2. A proposal to make the Secretariat elected was rejected at the last winter conference.
  3. It has often been difficult to find appropriate and willing candidates for the post.
  4. At various times during the post’s existence it has been unfilled, or its occupant(s) have been unable to perform the role, and the National Committee has had to perform these roles itself. This has not been a problem. NC members have been assigned to make arrangements for meetings, and have formed working groups to oversee the running of conferences.
  5. Despite the good work of members of the Secretariat over the time the post has existed, this is arguably preferable as NC members, being elected, are more democratically accountable.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To amend the constitution to abolish the Secretariat, and transfer oversight of its responsibilities to the NC.
    1. Amend 4.A.3.1. – “The NC and the Secretariat has ultimate responsibility for setting the agenda of conferences and other events, and ensuring their smooth and democratic running
    2. Amend 4.A.4.1. – “A motions and proposals deadline must be set by the Secretariat the NC, or its delegated conference working group, ahead of conference”
    3. Amend 4.B. – NCAFC has two one standing committees: the National Committee (NC) and the Secretariat
    4. Delete all of 4.B.3. and 4.B.4.

A New Behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure

Submitted by the National Committee

NCAFC notes:

  1. Our Summer Conference 2016 instructed the National Committee to propose a replacement for our existing Safer Spaces Policy.

NCAFC resolves

  1. To adopt the Behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure contained in the appendix to this motions document.

NCAFC & direct action

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC notes:

  1. That since the inception of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, the belief that grassroots direct action is an integral part of achieving political and social change has been a core principle of the organisation.
  2. That this vocal belief has set NCAFC apart from many other groups and organisations on the student left.
  3. That over the last couple of years, levels of grassroots activity happening on campuses has decreased somewhat.
  4. That, nonetheless, NCAFC continues to be contacted by activists asking for support and advice when it comes to planning and carrying out direct action.

NCAFC believes:

  1. That direct action will never not be relevant, useful and important in the fight for free, democratic and accessible education.
  2. That recent successes such as the occupation at Warwick have shown that commitment to direct action still exists in the movement and that it can be very effective.
  3. That in the fight against this government’s plans to marketise higher education, direct action on both local and national levels is essential, and thus we need activists and SU officers across the country to be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to plan and carry out direct action.
  4. That as well as practical knowledge, it’s important that activists have access to strong political and historical arguments as to why direct action is powerful and necessary.
  5. That NUS has started to do more work in this area, but that a lot is still lacking.
  6. That it’s important that within the active membership, and especially the National Committee, of NCAFC, we have a significant number of activists with first-hand experience and knowledge when it comes to direct action, who can be called upon to share that expertise with fellow members and/or with activist groups if requested.
  7. That whilst it’s important to recognise the ways in which the student movement is shifting and changing, and to adapt our political strategies accordingly, we must ensure that we do not lose all connection with direct action and that it remains a core aspect of our broad strategy in pushing for change.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. That as part of the updated version of the NCAFC website, there will be a “direct action hub” which will contain: key political arguments on why direct action is effective and necessary, a brief history of direct action in the student movement, links to useful practical resources on direct action, as well as a clear indication that activists are welcome to get in touch with us if they want any help/support/advice relating to direct action (including the offer for NCAFC to facilitate/co-facilitate direct action workshops on campuses).
  2. That we will continue to argue within NUS for a national union which not only coordinates direct action on a national level, but also actively supports grassroots direct action happening on campuses.
  3. That there should always be at least one workshop on direct action at our annual summer training event, incorporating both political and practical knowledge.
  4. That, where politically useful and appropriate, NCAFC will actively seek to collaborate with other grassroots organisations to coordinate direct action around educational issues.

Integrating newly-elected NC members into the National Committee

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC notes that:

  1. Often new NC members are expected to pick up their tasks and roles with little guidance, and can feel isolated unless they are already close to experienced NC members.
  2. Often a small number of NC members take on most of the work of maintaining the organisation, and that often some new NC members are never fully integrated into the NC.

NCAFC believes that:

  1. There is an expectation that all NC members should, barring situations where personal circumstances are having an impact on capacity and ability to organise, make an effort to engage in collective discussions, decision making and regular tasks. All NC members should be active in one permanent working group.
  2. Sometimes NC members have to take time off from organising and step back from active involvement.
  3. Sometimes NC members don’t feel supported or knowledgeable enough to fulfil their role adequately.

NCAFC resolves to:

  1. Implement an initial training brief for all new NC members. This will constitute a face-to-face or Skype session introducing the new NC member to decision making processes, communication platforms, working groups, expected tasks for NC members, NCAFC events and so on.
  2. Implement a ‘buddy system’ for new NC members. This will involve assigning each new NC member to a current NC member who will act as a point of contact for the new member for the first 2-3 months in the position. The older NC member will answer questions, check in with the new NC member, encourage them to take up tasks and help them complete them.

Appendix

NCAFC Behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure

Proposed in motion “A new behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure”

NCAFC is committed to fighting for an education system that is public, democratic, open and accessible to all, and oriented towards free enquiry, the needs and interests of society, and liberation from existing hierarchies and oppressions. We seek to dismantle, rather than perpetuate, existing oppressions and hierarchies within our communities and campaigns. We are a democratic political organisation, so discussion, debate and democratic processes are how we work through our disagreements and collective decisions.

If we are to achieve these aims, we must expect certain standards of behaviour of ourselves and those involved in our organisation, both at our events and in wider society.

We must not:

  1. discriminate against anyone on the basis of ethnicity, sex, gender, religion, age, sexuality, language, disability, asylum status or any other structurally oppressive criteria
  2. perpetrate verbal, physical or sexual abuse, bullying or violence

In addition, we expect ourselves and each other, as members and participants at our events, to:

  1. behave in a comradely and co-operative way towards one another
  2. avoid causing those around us unnecessary offence or anxiety
  3. respect the facilitatory methods of the Chair and only challenge them through the appropriate structures
  4. listen to others when they are speaking, not interrupt and wait for our turn to speak
  5. treat one another with respect, debating political ideas where we disagree without resorting to personal attacks or disrespectful language
  6. respect the aims and democratic processes of NCAFC and behave with honesty and integrity

We all have a responsibility to each other and NCAFC to uphold these standards of behaviour and challenge others around us if they fail to meet these standards. If you feel that anyone’s behaviour is not meeting these standards, in general, the first recourse should be to speak to this person privately and informally about their behaviour, or ask another member or NC member to do so. However, in cases where someone’s behaviour fails to meet these standards in a serious way, especially with regards to points 1. and 2., or repeatedly fails to meet these standards, a formal complaint may be submitted.

Complaints Procedure

  1. To make a formal complaint about a member or attendee at an event, the complainant should write to the National Committee, or if they prefer an NC member (or members) of their choice, who can discuss the complaint with the rest of the NC while preserving the complainant’s anonymity.
  2. Upon receiving the complaint, the NC will decide whether or not to investigate the complaint. All complaints should be treated seriously and assumed to be submitted in good faith unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary. If the complaint is against a NC member, they are not to take part in any discussions or decisions relating to the complaint and the rest of the NC may also decide to suspend them from the NC pending the outcome of the complaint.
  3. If the complaint is deemed serious enough, a group of NC members should be convened to investigate the complaint. Factors such as the diversity of the group and members’ relationships to the accused/complainant (unless submitted anonymously) should be considered to ensure as representative and fair a group as possible.
  4. The group will ask for any statement from the complainant in addition to their complaint. The accused will be informed of the details of the complaint made against them, with the complainant’s wishes regarding anonymity respected, and will also be asked for a statement. The group may also ask questions of the complainant and accused, and any other people as it deems necessary. The group should proceed with sensitivity and unintrusiveness if asking questions of a complainant whose complaint is on the basis of abuse or violence.
  5. While the procedure is ongoing, the NC may take the decision to suspend the member or ban them from attending events, including asking them to leave an event if a complaint is made during an event, pending the outcome of the investigation.
  6. When the group has considered the statements of the complainant and accused and any other information they have gathered, they will decide whether the accused’s behaviour:
    1. is a threat to the functioning of the organisation
    2. runs contrary to the aims of the organisation
    3. discriminates against members of oppressed groups
    4. poses a danger or harm to members of the organisation
  7. If the accused’s behaviour meets any of these criteria, the group will suggest a course of action the NC should take, which could include but is not limited to: giving the perpetrator a warning about their behaviour, banning the perpetrator from events and/or expelling them from the organisation.
  8. The NC will have the final decision as to the course of action to take, according to any conditions or procedures set out in the constitution, with the delegated group’s recommendations considered.
  9. The process up to this point should take no more than either 30 days from the original complaint or 5 days after the soonest NC meeting after the complaint was made, whichever is longer.The NC members are to treat all statements received and answers to questions as confidential and are not to talk about the details of the investigation to anyone outside the NC.
  10. If the complainant and/or accused disagrees with the decision, they can appeal the decision by writing to the NC within 30 days of the outcome. The NC can decide to uphold the decision, review the course of action or reopen the investigation, convening a different delegated group but following the same procedures as listed above. No further appeals can be made after this point.
  11. If the accused is expelled, they may apply for membership again in the future and the NC will make the decision to accept or reject their membership at the time their application is received.
  12. In cases where the complaint is related to verbal, physical or sexual abuse, bullying or violence, NC members will work with the complainant, if the complainant so wishes, to ensure that they have a support group around them and access to relevant services.

Return to motion “A new behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure”

Left-wing motions for NUS National Conference 2016

NUS conference voting delegatesOn 19-21 April 2016, the National Union of Students (NUS) will be holding its national annual conference. NCAFC activists will be at the conference to argue for a left-wing, campaigning, democratic direction for our national union. As well as standing candidates for leading roles, we will push for left-wing policies, and hold the leadership to account where they have failed to fulfil their mandates.

Motions for NUS conference are submitted via student unions – students propose them to their local union’s democratic structure, and if they are voted through, the union sends them to NUS conference. We encourage activists to submit left-wing motions, and also to stand for election as delegates and come to the conference to argue and vote for them! The motions below have been written by NCAFC activists for supporters to propose to their unions – they do not necessarily represent the views of every NCAFC member. Some of them are stand-alone motions, and some of them are amendments to proposals from the NUS leadership (the Zone Committees) – you can find those proposals here.

NUS motions are organised into “zones” according to their topic, and each student union can submit up to 1400 words. You will need to:

  1. Put up to 1400 words worth of motions (see word counts in the list below) to your SU’s democratic structures (e.g. Council, General Meeting, Executive or Referendum). Remember to find out when there’s a meeting before the NUS deadline (12 Noon on Friday 4 March 2016) and check how far in advance you need to submit your motions to that meeting.
  2. Campaign to win the vote.
  3. Make sure your SU submits them to NUS using this form before 12 Noon on Friday 4 March 2016.

Please let us know if you are going to put motions to your union, if you would like help, or if you want to suggest further motions additional to those listed here: email againstfeesandcuts@gmail.com. We can let you know which motions are already being put through SUs and which need to be picked up. Please also get in touch if you are going to be a delegate to NUS Conference and want to coordinate with other NCAFC activists there!


Contents

[Word counts in square brackets]

Welfare Zone

  • #GrantsNotDebt! [283]
  • The rent is too damn high! [271]
  • Defend our local services [374]
  • Action to beat Prevent [173]

Education Zone

  • Education not for sale – stop the HE reforms [258]
  • #StopCollegeCuts – Oppose the FE Area Reviews [389]
  • Trade union rights [213]

Society & Citizenship Zone

  • Scrap Trident – spend the money on jobs, education and public services [265]
  • Defend Migrants: Another Europe is Possible [351]
  • Climate change [258]
  • A good local community school for every student [333]
  • Syria, Daesh, Kurdistan and the war  [291]

Union Development Zone

  • Free speech and no platform [313]
  • For democratic, campaigning student unions [259]
  • Defending Our Unions [308]
  • Make FE union development our #1 priority [499]

Annual General Meeting (motions about how NUS works!)

  • Governance reviews – some basic principles [217]
  • Fund the Block to do their jobs [291]
  • Regional organising – make it a priority [154]
  • Make conference more accessible and representative  [292]

Welfare Zone

#GrantsNotDebt!

Conference Believes

  1. Despite our protests, this Conservative government has abolished the poorest undergraduates’ maintenance grants. Before it, the Coalition scrapped the FE Education Maintenance Allowance. Cutting these was shameful, but they weren’t even enough in the first place. NUS previously supported universal living grants to support all students.
  2. We need to ensure every student can afford to live decently during their studies – the fight for living grants is a fight for accessible, liberated education.
  3. Many people fall through the gaps in any means-tested system that assumes parental support – in particular those with unsupportive families, such as many LGBT+ people. The “estrangement” system is broken, but even if we can improve it, it can only help those students who cut themselves off completely from their families. That’s why NUS LGBT+ campaign voted last year to campaign for universal living grants.
  4. Universalism – public services available to absolutely everyone – is a core progressive principle for our movement.
  5. There is plenty of money in society to restore universal grants, plus fund good public services – it’s in the bank accounts and businesses of the wealthy. That wealth should be used to pay not just for their education, but for everyone else’s too.

Conference Resolves

  1. Take up the #GrantsNotDebt campaign to first reverse the cuts to maintenance grants, and then to increase them to a decently live-able level, with additional supplements reflecting the needs of student carers and disabled students, and extend them to all students in FE and HE.
  2. Demand this is funded through progressive taxation such as an increase in corporation tax and taxes on the richest, not by raising taxes on the poorest or cutting public services.

The rent is too damn high!

Conference believes

  1. NUS has already committed to campaign for demands including scrapping letting agents’ fees, taxing empty homes and multiple homes, scrapping council tax, permanent tenancies, a council house building program, and rent controls.
  2. The housing crisis is only getting worse for both students and the rest of society.
  3. The new Housing & Planning Bill is a huge further attack on social housing and will:
    1. Force councils to sell off good quality council housing to private landlords.
    2. Remove secure tenancies from council housing residents.
    3. Push up rents for many council tenants.
    4. Cut investment in social housing.
    5. Undermine the rights of travellers and gypsies.

Conference further believes

  1. Affordable, decent housing is of huge importance to student welfare and to access to education.
  2. Students at SOAS and UCL have shown that rent strikes are a powerful weapon against exploitative landlords.

Conference resolves

  1. Reaffirm the housing campaigning commitments we previously voted for.
  2. Oppose the Housing & Planning Bill and campaign to stop it (and reverse it if it does pass).
  3. Work with the “Kill the Housing Bill” campaign, which is a coalition of trade unions, local tenants’ federations, activist groups and gypsy & travellers associations.
  4. Produce and promote useful information about how to campaign for decent, affordable housing and how to organise rent strikes, and provide support and assistance to student rent strikers.
  5. Continue our commitment to cooperating with non-student housing campaigns and tenants’ organisations, aiming in the end to have unified democratic tenants’ unions for all in every town, city and region.

Defend our local services

Amendment to “SOS – Save Our Services”

ADD:

Conference believes

  1. Relying on Council Tax increases to save services can end up squeezing those who cannot afford it.
  2. We need local action to prevent and reverse cuts to services, and nationwide action to challenge the cuts to local authority budgets.
  3. We must also oppose outsourcing and privatisation, and campaign for public services to be publicly owned, under democratic control – not corner-cutting profiteers or unaccountable undemocratic charities.

Conference further believes

  1. Stopping and reversing local service cuts will usually require action beyond awareness-raising, to create pressure on decision-makers.
  2. Approaching elections we must put forward clear demands based on our democratic policies, use the election period to popularise them, and place pressure on candidates and parties to sign up to them using all effective methods.
  3. In the past, it has been possible for local councils, with the support of their communities, to refuse to implement cuts passed down from central government. Historic refusals to implement local cuts have been incredibly powerful and have caused changes at the national level. This requires not only councillors willing to resist, but an organised local movement ready to back them up with mass action when central government attempts to override them.

Conference resolves

  1. The VP Welfare should develop a strategy working with SUs and allies to win decently funded, publicly-owned services, including:
    1. Campaigns running up to all relevant elections that promote clear demands to protect services and place pressure on candidates and parties to meet those demands, including lobbying, media, protest and direct action.
    2. Complete support for organising efforts and industrial action by service workers against attacks on their pay, working conditions and jobs.
    3. Local lobbying, protest and direct action as appropriate in defence of specific services.
    4. Cooperating with NUS liberation campaigns to provide information, assistance and encouragement for campus liberation groups to campaign against service cuts particularly relevant to their members.
    5. Exploring potential for building local alliances that could effectively support councillors outright refusing to implement cuts, and for convincing councillors to do this.
    6. Campaigning nationally to reverse local government cuts, funded by progressively taxing the rich and business and taking the banking system that we bailed out under democratic public control.

Action to beat Prevent

Conference believes

  1. The racist Prevent agenda is already coming into force on campuses and NUS is rightly campaigning against it.
  2. UCU trade union has voted to equip branches on campuses to open industrial disputes to collectively boycott work duties associated with Prevent.

Conference further believes

  1. We can beat Prevent with collective, democratic action that disrupts its functioning.
  2. Workers responsible for Prevent duties are particularly well-placed to take such action.

Conference resolves

  1. Fully support the initiative of education workers, through their trade unions, boycotting Prevent duties.
  2. Work with education trade unions to facilitate branches taking such action.
  3. Work also with NUS Postgrad Section, as representatives of postgrads who teach, on how casualised student workers can contribute to such action.
  4. Help student unions and students to work with campus trade union branches to encourage, concretely assist and support such action and defend workers against victimisation.
  5. Help student unions and students to organise and support protest and direct action against Prevent on campuses.

Education Zone

Education not for sale – stop the HE reforms

Amendment to “Divorce our courses from market forces”

ADD:

Conference believes:

  1. The proposed reforms presented in the government’s Higher Education Green Paper are a potentially devastating attack on education.
  2. At the time of writing, after the consultation, we were waiting for a revised version of the reform package to be announced.

Conference further believes:

  1. Universities and teaching can be improved by decent public funding and democratic structures, not marketisation.
  2. The autonomy and campaigning activity of Students’ Unions must be defended.
  3. We need to significantly up our work to stop the proposals which, combined with cuts to grants, bursaries and FE colleges, form a potentially devastating attack on public education.

Conference resolves:

  1. To reaffirm our commitment to campaign for free and democratic education at all levels, funded by taxing the rich and their businesses, not by cutting other services or further squeezing those who can’t afford it.
  2. Actively campaign, in collaboration with education trade unions, to stop the proposed Higher Education reforms.
  3. To link fighting the HE reforms to stopping the major cuts threatening further education and to reversing abolitions of grants and bursaries.
  4. To organise a national demonstration in the first half of November 2016, focussed on 3 clear demands directed at the government, against major current attacks on education: #StopTheHEReforms, #StopCollegeCuts, and #GrantsNotDebt.
  5. To invite education trade unions to join us in supporting this demonstration.
  6. To place this action within a wider strategy of protest, direct action and lobbying, with action at both local and national levels.

#StopCollegeCuts – Oppose the FE Area Reviews

Conference believes:

  1. The Government has made huge cuts to FE and sixth form colleges resulting in course and campus closures, mergers and job losses.
  2. In 2015 the Government withdraw all funding for ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) courses, which is having immediate impact on the thousands that relied on these essential courses.
  3. The Government is conducting ‘Area Reviews’ of post-16 education and training in England, which have already begun in 7 regions.
  4. Analysis suggests that up to 4 in 10 colleges could close if the further planned cuts go ahead.
  5. The stated aim of “larger, more efficient, more resilient providers” will lead to college mergers.
  6. Sixth Form Colleges are at particular risk of closure or merger during area reviews.

Conference further believes:

  1. Further and adult education is a vital though often undervalued public good, providing for diverse students with high numbers from disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds as well as for parents, careers, refugees and those changing career or returning to work.
  2. Further and adult education is being brutally and systematically dismantled. The Area Reviews will only escalate the existing state of crisis facing the sector, with further cuts, courses closures and job losses through mergers and massively narrowed curriculums.
  3. Large, specialist regionalised colleges and sixth forms will reduce opportunities and increase the cost of learning, further damaging access to education.
  4. Colleges have already been regionalised in Scotland and Wales where there has been no evidence that mergers save money though the cuts to courses, teaching and provision have continued.
  5. Area Reviews are focused on satisfying employers and not on education and students’ needs.
  6. The Area Reviews are part of the Government’s attack on the poorest and most vulnerable students, and a part of a wider assault on education.

Conference resolves:

  1. Oppose and actively campaign against the Area Reviews and to halt and reverse all the cuts to FE and ESOL, including organising protest and supporting and encouraging direct action against cuts and college closures.
  2. Educate students about the area reviews and the impact they will have on them, FE lecturers and workers alike, and help them organise against the reviews by offering training and support.
  3. Collaborate with trade unions and other appropriate groups on this.

Trade union rights

Amendment to “Employability isn’t working”

ADD:

Conference believes

  1. The Trade Union Bill would criminalise many forms of trade union activity; further limit the already very limited right to strike; and obstruct trade unions and the workers’ movement from maintaining political representation.
  2. Even before this Bill, there was a whole raft of laws aimed at crippling trade unions and stifling workers’ rights, dating back to the Thatcher government.
  3. The Tories are blatant hypocrites, requiring 40% or more for a strike when their party took office with less than 25% of the electorate.

Conference further believes

  1. The weakening of trade unions is a big reason why so many graduates and others face low pay, insecurity and a lack of rights, even when fortunate enough to find jobs.
  2. NUS should concretely help the campaign for trade union rights.

Conference resolves

  1. To work with unions, the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom and Right to Strike to oppose the TU Bill.
  2. To demand the repeal of all anti-trade union laws and a positive charter of rights: to join a union, organise, strike and do things which make strikes effective, including picketing and solidarity action.
  3. To create a section of the NUS website to promote union membership and highlight the fight for workers’ rights.

Society & Citizenship Zone

Scrap Trident – spend the money on jobs, education and public services

Conference believes

  1. A decision will be made this year whether to renew the UK’s Trident nuclear weapon system.
  2. The £100 billion the government wants to spend on replacing Trident should be spent on decent, socially useful jobs, free education and other public services.
  3. The supposed “deterrent” value of nuclear weapons depends on willingness to use them; and using them would certainly mean vast numbers of civilian deaths immediately and for years to come.
  4. The government wants to spend billions on murderous weapons of mass destruction at the very time it is gutting public services. Our society is not short of money – there is huge wealth in the pockets of the rich – but this is a terrible way to spend those resources.

Conference further believes

  1. The shipyards producing nuclear weapon-carrying submarines (the weapons themselves are bought from the US!) can be converted to produce something else. Governments have converted military industry to civilian purposes many times in the past and workers employed in the arms trade have previously developed plans of their own for such conversion.
  2. The workers involved in these projects should be guaranteed decent alternative jobs producing something socially useful, with no loss of pay or conditions, and a lot money would still be left for public services.

Conference resolves

  1. To campaign against replacing Trident and for nuclear disarmament on the basis set out above.
  2. To facilitate CMs to campaign for money to be spent on free education, jobs and services instead of nuclear weapons.

Defend Migrants: Another Europe is Possible

Conference believes

  1. This year will be the referendum on the UK’s EU membership, and David Cameron is already trying to renegotiate the terms, undermining important rights and attacking migrants.
  2. We should fight to defend the guarantee of freedom of movement for EU citizens (including students travelling to study), and fight to extend it to those currently locked out of “Fortress Europe”.
  3. Despite some progressive policies, the current state of the EU protects the interests of the rich and powerful. It is undemocratic and bureaucratic, and enforces austerity and privatisation.
  4. But the UK state is no less a tool of the rich and powerful. Leaving the EU would only boost anti-migrant racists and strengthen barriers against free movement and international solidarity.

Conference further believes

  1. NUS rightly already opposes Brexit. At the same time, we cannot ignore the EU’s problems. We must argue to stay in as part of a fight for a genuinely democratic and socially just Europe with better rights for migrants.
  2. The big Britain Stronger in Europe campaign is dominated by Tories and business leaders. It’s their campaign to defend the EU as it is now, and so can’t be a voice for the kind of Europe we want. The Another Europe is Possible (AEIP) campaign and Workers’ Europe have been set up to organise a progressive, anti-austerity, internationalist opposition to Brexit.

Conference resolves

  1. Campaign for the UK to stay in the EU, but on our own basis as above, for:
    1. international student and workers’ solidarity
    2. levelling up of wages, conditions, services and rights across the EU
    3. democratisation including a sovereign European Parliament
    4. freedom of movement and an end to “Fortress Europe”
  2. Campaign against David Cameron’s renegotiations undermining migrant rights, workers’ rights and human rights.
  3. To work independently from the Tory- and big-business-dominated “Britain Stronger in Europe”, instead promoting a positive vision by working with AEIP and Workers’ Europe, and student unions and trade unions across Europe.
  4. Put migrants’ rights and freedom of movement at the heart of our campaign.

Climate change

Conference believes

  1. The recent COP21 climate talks produced a lot of rhetoric, but insufficient concrete commitment on tackling dangerous climate change.
  2. The $100 billion pledged to help developing countries meet the COP21 targets is less than 8% of global military spending, to say nothing of corporate profits.
  3. COP21 had little to say about droughts, floods, crop failures, species extinctions, coastal erosion and extreme weather, and nothing about climate-driven mass migration.
  4. The UK government’s seriousness about meeting a zero emissions target by 2030 is shown by the fact it recently scrapped a £1bn competition to develop carbon capture technology and cut subsidies to solar power 65%.

Conference further believes

  1. Promoting lifestyle changes and relying on markets won’t save us.
  2. Tackling climate change requires massive public spending on developing alternative energy, transport, redesign of housing, workplaces, urban environments, and more, tied to democratic public ownership in these sectors.
  3. Unsustainable industries need to be taken under democratic public ownership, their infrastructure converted and jobs transferred to prevent lay-offs.
  4. We need mass mobilisation around these goals, linking up students and climate campaigners with the workers’ movement.

Conference resolves

  1. Make campaigning against climate change and for a sustainable world a major priority this year, highlighting demands for public ownership and democratic control of energy and transport.
  2. Highlight the government’s lack of seriousness about reaching zero emissions by 2030.
  3. Build links with trade unions on this, including support for unions representing the solar energy workers whose jobs the government is slashing.

A good local community school for every student

Conference believes

  1. The drive, accelerated by the Tories but also promoted by New Labour, to break up and undermine comprehensive secondary school education in various ways, is bad for children, education workers and society.
  2. Academies and free schools are ways of chopping up and semi-privatising education.
  3. The spread of state-funded religious schools in various forms is also part of this process, in addition strengthening sectarian divisions between people and, in some cases, handing control of education to bigoted conservative religious groups with negative consequences for sex education, LGBT+ rights, women’s rights and more.
  4. Research has shown that not only do faith schools’ selection criteria discriminate against the children of parents with other or no religion, it is also easier for middle-class parents to “game” their selection criteria, helping to pass on unfair advantage to their children.

Conference further believes

  1. State-funded schools should be neutral on questions of religious belief – every school should be an equally inclusive place for students of all religions and none, and where every student is free to believe and practice their own religion or lack of religion.
  2. Every child should be able to attend a good, local community school, and that all state schools should be open-access, secular community schools, run by the local authority.
  3. School students have run inspiring campaigns to stop their schools being converted into academies – NUS should reach out to support them with our resources and platform.

Resolves

  1. To campaign for a place at a good, local community school run by the local authority to be available for every child.
  2. To campaign for academies, free schools, grammar schools and state-funded religious schools to be turned into secular, open-access community schools run by the local authority, and for private schools at the very least to have their charitable status removed.
  3. To work with education workers’ unions, the Anti-Academies Alliance, school students who are organising, and other appropriate groups.

Syria, Daesh, Kurdistan and the war

Conference Believes

  1. The ongoing war launched by Assad against the Syrian people in 2011
  2. The expansion of Daesh and far-right sectarian militias amongst the anti-Assad opposition
  3. The Kurdish struggle for national liberation in Syria, Iraq and Turkey
  4. The UK bombing campaign begun in 2015
  5. The ongoing intervention by many imperialist powers, including Iran, Russia, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, the USA, the UK and their proxies.

Conference Further Believes

  1. Cameron’s bombing campaign in Syria cannot defeat Daesh, but can only increase the suffering of the Syrian people. It is cynically motivated, and designed only to increase the UK’s “prestige” internationally.
  2. Assad’s regime is monstrous and must go; and the Russian campaign to shore up his regime is equally monstrous
  3. If the UK government were interested in fighting Daesh or Al-Qaeda, it would stop the flow of support to them from UK allies: Turkey and the Gulf States
  4. The struggle of the Kurdish people for self-determination, against Daesh and the racist Erdogan government, deserves our support
  5. The Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) democratically represents a large proportion of Kurds and is a major force fighting effectively against Daesh and for the Kurds to be free, so it should be removed from the UK and EU lists of banned organisations.

Resolves

  1. To support the call to remove the PKK from the UK and EU ban lists.
  2. To issue statements, organise meetings and support mobilisations in support of the Kurdish struggle; in support of secular and democratic forces in Syria and humanitarian efforts to support the Syrian population.
  3. To send NUS banners to, and mobilise students to participate in, protests against the UK bombing of Syria.

Union Development Zone

Free speech and no platform

Conference believes

  1. Freedom of speech at education institutions has been a huge source of controversy recently, with arguments over both student groups’ calls to ban certain speakers, and the government’s racist policing of freedom of expression through Prevent.
  2. Restrictions imposed by a student union are different to those imposed by the government, but they can still be problematic. Movements like ours seek to challenge existing authorities and challenge the existing dominant ideas. That means freedom to debate ideas, is vital to our goals. The oppressed have the most to lose from attacks on democratic rights.
  3. Beyond certain clear limits, i.e. fascism, policing ideas and discussion among our members is not an appropriate activity for students’ unions; it weakens our case to the wider public when we want to oppose restrictions imposed by management and the government.

Conference further believes

  1. NUS is rightly committed to a tactic of no platform for fascists. This is not based on the idea that fascist ideas are too dangerous (for instance, we don’t support banning historical fascist texts from our libraries). Fascism is an organised movement that uses physical force to crush workers’, left and student groups and oppressed people. Fascists have declared physical war on us, so we can’t give them any space to operate.
  2. This is different to those who have bigoted views, who must be countered through argument and protest, not bans. No-platform tactics are ineffective against widely-held bigoted views.
  3. All of this is about political policy: it is a different matter from excluding individuals who are personally violent or dangerous, which is reasonable.

Conference resolves

  1. We reaffirm our commitment to a policy of no platform for fascists.
  2. As a general principle, NUS will combat reactionary, bigoted ideas politically, through argument and protest, rather than through tactics of bans and no platform.

For democratic, campaigning student unions

Amendment to “Students’ unions are valued for student engagement in learning, help us NUS”

DELETE: CR2, CR3

ADD:

Conference believes

  1. The most basic act of engagement and participation that student unions need to get right is participation and representation of students in unions. We need unions to be democratic, open to their members, and to meet a basic set of democratic standards.
  2. Without being democratic, unions cannot meaningfully facilitate the Learner Voice.
  3. At conference 2015, we passed a set of basic democratic processes and standards.
  4. NUS’s offer of advice and consultation to its members should not be “affordable” – it should be free, and included in membership contributions. It would be better to put up affiliation fees than to limit poorer unions’ access to proper advice.

Conference further believes

  1. We should reaffirm policy passed at last conference, that unions need:
    1. Elected, not appointed, representatives
    2. A flow of easily accessible information to members (records of decisions, reports from elected officers, etc);
    3. Regular, well-built General Meetings and/or Councils;
    4. Councils open to all to attend, speak and put motions;
    5. All important decisions to be made by students and their elected representatives;
    6. Autonomous liberation campaigns, and preferably full-time Liberation officers
    7. SU independence from institutional management, including guaranteed, secure resources and space; means of communication with members; automatic annual elections; and accountable election returning officers with no employment or trusteeship connection with the institution.

Conference resolves

  1. NUS will include the above basic democratic standards in any advice given to member unions on engagement and participation.
  2. NUS’s advice to its member unions will be free

Defending Our Unions

Amendment to “The Impact of Student Opportunities”

ADD:

Conference Believes:

  1. In almost every case where there has been a majority Conservative government, there has been an attack on Students’ Unions: on our ability to organise, on our funding and autonomy.
  2. The reason why some in the political establishment hate Students’ Unions is because we are democratic and collectivist organisations, which are allied to a wider labour movement, and which have a track record of fighting – and often defeating – governments and managements.
  3. The existence of democratic, participatory spaces and organisations on campuses does not sit comfortably with any vision for a marketised or privatised education system.
  4. When Margaret Thatcher tried to attack the autonomy and finances of Students’ Unions in the 1970s, NUS, led by President Digby Jacks, organised a mass student mobilisation which led to the proposals being withdrawn.

Conference Further Believes:

  1. Attacks on Students’ Unions are the result of an agenda to push education into the private sector, and an elite which – rightly – sees unions as a threat to their power to make cuts, undermine academic freedom, and attack students and education workers.
  2. Students’ Unions political and campaigning activity is essential to their function of fighting for students’ rights, and must be defended.
  3. If the government tries to undermine Students’ Unions, we will need a campaign of mass mobilisation, including protest and direct action.

Conference Resolves:

  1. NUS will actively oppose any restrictions to the autonomy, and the political and campaigning activity, of Students’ Unions.
  2. We will seek to persuade decision-makers and to build support for Students’ Unions among the wider public. But we have to be prepared to raise hell as well as build bridges.
  3. To prepare for a campaign of mass mobilisation and direct action, on a scale never seen before, if the government attempts to legislate to undermine Students’ Unions.

Make FE union development our #1 priority

Conference believes

  1. The most pressing union development need in NUS is in further education. FE students constitute a huge majority of NUS’s membership, but make up a tiny proportion of those who attend training events; who become FTOs; and who attend as delegates at democratic conferences. This is despite the fact that FE is facing a massive assault from the government.
  2. Despite this, NUS UK has spent a very small proportion of its time and political focus building autonomous FE unions.
  3. Much of the personal effort of NUS UK officers, and much of the focus for NUS’s governance review processes, has been grounded in “listening” to a narrow demographic of sabbatical officers in higher education. This is a comfort zone for many of NUS’s national leadership: sabbs are often people like them, who have the same political agendas, and the same pre-occupation with democratic bodies passing policy they don’t like.
  4. Many of the outcomes of NUS’s governance reviews and internal developments have reflected this: they have produced a whole set of events – such as Zone Conferences and the annual SU convention – which are geared towards catering for sabbs, and require significant resources to attend.

Conference further believes

  1. The reason why there such a low participation of FE students in NUS is not because FE students are apathetic. It is primarily because many FE unions do not exist in a meaningful form: some do not hold elections, or have democratic structures.
  2. NUS should spend more time building mass participation, and less time telling sabbs that they are special and clever. Our number one priority in union development, and in any future governance reviews, should be engaging the mass of NUS’s membership: by educating, training and supporting students in FE to organise and form activist groups on their campuses to oppose the onslaught of attacks on FE and to push for, alongside the NUS, the creation of autonomous, democratic unions in every school, college and university.

Conference resolves

  1. To make the development and creation of activist groups and unions in further education our number one priority in the Union Development Zone.
  2. Mass education, training and support to equip FE students with the knowledge and skills to form activist groups on campus to organise against attacks on FE and to push for the creation of unions
  3. FE union development means:
    1. Autonomous unions, that have their own resources and cannot be interfered with by management
    2. Unions having access to their own membership data and contact details
    3. An executive of officers elected by cross campus ballot
    4. Regular democratic meetings: an elected council or general meetings
    5. Full time officers
    6. Functioning and autonomous liberation groups
  4. To launch a review of NUS’s events, with the aim of making a much higher proportion of them accessible and relevant to students – including FE students – and not to a relatively tiny number of sabbs and “senior leaders”.

Annual General Meeting

Governance reviews – some basic principles

Conference believes

  1. NUS is currently undergoing a governance review.
  2. NUS is basically always undergoing a governance review, depending on the various agendas a motivations of the current FTO team.
  3. Governance reviews often seem boring, but they are unavoidably political and can have a massive impact on what NUS does – and by extension on the lives of the students we represent.
  4. The current governance review – Project 100 – is not being put to conference this year. Instead, it has been briefed to sabbatical officers and SU staff at various events, and approved only by the trustee board.

Conference resolves

  1. To establish the following principles for the governance review:
    1. Governance reforms should be launched and governed by democratic processes, such as conference and NEC. They should not be hidden in board papers.
    2. We should embrace digital technology and new forums and forms for debate
    3. There should be no reduction in the space and time allotted to democratic sessions as a result of changes to NUS structures. In fact it should be expanded.
    4. National Conference must remain the sovereign policy-making body of NUS, and participation in it should be widened.
    5. The overwhelming priority for NUS should be involvement of students and development of unions which cannot participate under the current system.

Fund the Block to do their jobs

Conference believes

  1. The Block of 15 are currently unpaid, and have no access to funding their own activities.
  2. This means that Block of 15 members who want to do a lot of activism while in office often have to live in poverty, as they cannot take on full time work or part time work alongside their studies. It also means that the Block of 15, whose job is to scrutinise FTOs, have to go begging to FTOs in order to attend events – creating a clear conflict of interest.
  3. This was not always the case: the Block of 15 used to be paid a part time stipend and had an autonomous budget.

Conference further believes

  1. Having 15 officers without portfolio travelling around the country, assisting with campaigns, implementing NUS policy and acting on their initiative would be a major boon to NUS.
  2. NUS spends lots of money on all kinds of things. Paying the Block of 15 a part time stipend would not cost a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it would mean that they were independent and effective – which at present they are often not.

Conference resolves

  1. From this year, to create an autonomous budget code within the NEC budget which can be controlled collectively by the Block of 15 for campaigns and travel costs.
  2. To pay the Block of 15 a stipend of at least £5000 from this year.
  3. To mandate the Trustee Board and NEC to produce estimates for national conference 2017 which include an annual stipend of £9000 for each member of the Block of 15 – with additional regional pay weightings  for those who qualify under NUS’s existing pay structure.

Regional organising – make it a priority

Conference believes

  1. Not so long ago, NUS had thriving regional organisations, which held their own conferences, had their own full time officers, and conducted their own campaigns.
  2. NUS Areas still exist in the constitution, but have rarely been implemented and have been majorly deprioritised. An Area can come into being if recognised by the NEC under Rule 2000.
  3. Better regional support and organisation would hold big benefits for members: it is cost-effective and it is often more accessible way to organise.

Conference resolves

  1. To mandate the incoming NEC to pro-actively recognise Area Organisations for relevant geographical areas, and to ensure that Areas are adequately resourced in being given the opportunity to get off the ground.
  2. The operation of Areas should be open and responsive to students – and participation in setting them up and attending their events should not be limited to sabbatical officers.

Make conference more accessible and representative

Conference believes

  1. Because they are driven by political agendas just as often as they are by evidence base, not all of the outcomes of governance reviews are good for democracy. Over the past ten years:
    1. NUS national conference has shrunk significantly, with many delegations more than halving in size.
    2. NUS national conference has become shorter, meaning that a very large proportion of the motions submitted are never discussed and conference is woefully inaccessible.
    3. NUS’s events have become more and more focussed on catering for a small demographic of full time officers and senior staff.

Conference further believes

  1. We should always embrace change, and use innovative methods for giving members a voice. However, we should also not compromise on basic democratic standards, and we should not be afraid of ditching and reversing things which haven’t worked.

Conference resolves

  1. To mandate the incoming President, DPC and NEC to find the resources to extend national conference for an extra day in time for national conference 2017.
  2. To directly mandate an extra day for NUS national conference from 2018 onwards.
  3. To mandate the incoming DPC to investigate the costs of increasing the size of delegations to national conference. This report should include a number of options, to be presented to national conference 2017, up to a doubling of the current delegate entitlements. The report should integrate these options with proposals for additional liberation quotas.
  4. To mandate the incoming DPC to investigate the costs of holding a second policy-making conference to merge with Zones, with a number of options to be presented to national conference 2017 – ranging from a delegate size the same size as national conference, to a much smaller delegate entitlement.

Announcing…NCAFC Winter Conference 2015!

11921816_965268716866375_6593609279777932551_o4-6 December 2015
Sheffield

Register for free
Facebook event
Become a member of NCAFC
How our conference democracy works

Six months into the new Tory government and the attacks on students and education just keep coming, with the abolition of maintenance grants, hikes in loan repayments, and a whole array of nasty methods of pushing forward the marketisation of our education system.

The student fightback has already begun, with NCAFC organising the National Demo for Free Education in November and making plans for a national student strike in the next few months.

NCAFC National Conference is a chance to come together and plan where the student movement goes next. The weekend will include political discussion and debate, chances to learn about the student movement past and present, and make plans for the future.

With a mix of speaker sessions, workshops, liberation caucuses, and democratic sessions, the conference is your chance to meet student activists from across the country and have your say on what NCAFC does next.

This conference will include the election of the National Committee (NC) as well as hearing and voting on motions submitted by the membership. The deadline for motion submission is 23:59, Friday 20 November. (For more information on how motions work, see How our conference democracy works)

We will be providing accommodation. Please register online, and get in touch if you have any questions via againstfeesandcuts@gmail.com.

How NCAFC democracy works: how to make proposals and run for election!

3650546408_25f717dee4-300x199The NCAFC is different from many other organisations on the left because it is democratic. It belongs to our members – every person who becomes part of our campaign has a say in how it is run. Our Summer Conference (June 12-14 in Sheffield) is an opportunity for all of us to discuss, debate and decide where we should take our movement next. So this guide exists to explain how the NCAFC works and how you can contribute to decision-making by submitting proposals and running for election.

Deadlines at a glance

    • Motions (submissions open now): 23:59 Wednesday 3 June
    • Amendments: 23:59 Wednesday 10 June
    • Nominations for National Committee places (at the conference in person, or via email if not attending):  Saturday 13 June.

How does the NCAFC work?

The NCAFC is made up of its members. Those members carry out the campaigns of the organisation, and decide its directions, policies and activities through discussions and through formal democratic processes. Wherever possible, members should try to build activist groups on their campuses – these groups can choose to affiliate to the NCAFC, and they too are an important part of our activities and our democracy.

This is a summary of how the NCAFC ordinarily functions. For full details, please read the NCAFC’s constitution.

National Conferences

National conferences happen at least twice per year, and they are the sovereign body in charge of the NCAFC. Every individual member attending holds one vote.

These conferences decide NCAFC’s direction and its stances on different issues, by debating and voting on motions that propose different policies. Motions are submitted by affiliated local groups, or by formally organised political groups within NCAFC. The winter conference (but not the summer conference) can also consider proposals to alter the constitution, in order to change how the NCAFC works.

Liberation caucuses

We also have 4 liberation caucuses (Women, LGBTQ, Disabled and Black), which organise autonomously from the main body of the campaign and are open only to members who fall into those 4 categories (by self-definition – that means, it is up to a member to define for themselves what is their gender, sexuality and so on). The caucuses hold specific meetings for their members during our conferences and gatherings.

National Committee

The conference also elects a National Committee (NC), which coordinates the NCAFC’s work and is accountable to the members and to the decisions we make at conferences. It meets regularly between conferences and those meetings are open to all NCAFC members. The NC includes one voting representative elected by each liberation campaign, each organised region or nation (e.g. NCAFC Midlands) and each recognised section (e.g. NCAFC International Students). And there are also 14 open places on the NC, of which at least 40% are reserved for women and non-binary people. These open places can be held either by an individual, or by an affiliated local group, which can stand collectively for a seat and elect its own replaceable delegate to fill that seat (each local group can stand for up to two such seats; one open delegate seat and one women-only delegate seat).

The main elections for the liberation campaigns, the sections and the open places occur at the winter conference. At the upcoming summer conference, there will be by-elections to fill any vacant posts – these will be announced soon.

How can I submit a motion or a proposal to the conference?

Motions are proposals that say NCAFC should take a particular stance, and/or particular actions, about an issue. If passed by the Conference, they become the policy of NCAFC and are put into action! (Motions that would change the constitution of the NCAFC can only be submitted to the winter conference.)

In order to submit a motion, it must come from a local activist group, or organised political group, that is affiliated to the NCAFC. So if you have a motion idea, propose it within your group! If it is approved (by whatever democratic process your group uses to make decisions) it can be submitted as a motion to NCAFC conference. If you need help or advice to draft a motion, feel free to speak to any member of the National Committee.

When motions are released before Conference, make sure to read them, because you have the right to submit amendments to them. So if you think a motion takes the wrong stance on the issue it discusses, or should propose different actions, propose an amendment. This can delete bits of the motion, add bits, or change existing bits. You don’t need to go through your group to make an amendment – you can do it as an individual NCAFC member.

Motions and amendments should be sent to againstfeesandcuts@gmail.com in a text format (either in the text of the email, or a .doc, .docx, or .odt file). Please make clear what individual or group is the proposer.

  • Motions should be submitted by 23:59 Wednesday 3 June
  • Amendments: 23:59 Wednesday 10 June

How can I run for election?

Vacant National Committee posts that will be open for re-election at the Summer Conference will be announced soon. You don’t need to decide before the conference that you want to run for election to the National Committee.

Open places: NCAFC members will be able to nominate themselves for any vacant open places during the Conference. However, if your affiliated local activist group wants to run for one of the open places as a delegate seat (see above), it’s best to discuss this with your group before the Conference and get collective agreement. Nominations should be submitted at the conference on Saturday 13 June. If you cannot attend the conference but wish to run, please email againstfeesandcuts@gmail.com before then with a short statement that can be read out loud in under 2 minutes.

Sections and caucuses: Liberation caucuses and other sections of NCAFC decide their own methods for electing reps to the National Committee. However, for those caucuses meeting during the Conference, as an NCAFC member it will be enough to attend the caucus and volunteer on the spot.

NCAFC Conference Report

Report of NCAFC conference

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts national conference took place in Birmingham on December 8th and 9th.  150 activists came together from all over the country to co-ordinate local struggles and plan the future of NCAFC.

The general tone of the conference was constructive and determined: one of developing ideas, strategies and structures to allow the student movement to fight and win when it next surges. There was a huge array of discussion and debate – in informal and formal sessions, as well as self-organised spaces for Liberation groups, and a lot of socialising and fun. (If you have photos of the conference, please email them to againstfeesandcuts@gmail.com)

In this report:

1.Structural Outcomes of the conference

2.What conference voted for

3. Workshops roundup

4. Liberation, Section and Regional caucuses roundup

5. Election Results

6.  Motions passed in full

 

1.Structural Outcomes of the conference

The conference was a major step forward for the campaign, and for the first time established a clear set of core principles and a constitution for NCAFC.  This means:

  • NCAFC has a charter of core principles
  • NCAFC is now a membership organisation with:  watch this space for info on how to become a member
  • When the student movement next has an upsurge, we can dissolve our existing structures into a directly democratic delegate model
  • Local anti-cuts and other societies can now affiliate to NCAFC
  • NCAFC is in the process of setting up a new Federation of students or student unions, to which unions or students can affiliate. This will be decided at a conference, which will occur within 6 months

2. What conference voted for

The full text of what was passed is below. In short, NCAFC decided to:

  • Work on creating broad, non-sectarian anticuts groups on every campus
  • Push forward with a central political campaign for free education funded by taxation of the rich, while also focussing on neglected issues which affect many students, including housing and the NHS
  • Make the call for the abolition of all debt a serious political priority
  • Build a network of school and FE students, on the basis of campaigning for living grants; building fighting college students’ unions; opposing privatisation & marketisation; opposing market-driven mergers and cuts in courses and lecturers; and resisting all fees in education
  • Run a campaign on students’ rights as workers
  • Link up with Medsin, BMA Students, Keep Our NHS Public and the NHS Unity Network to fight what the government is doing to healthcare
  • Campaign within the Labour Movement for a coalition of ‘Trade Unions for free education.’
  • Organise towards a united left intervention within NUS
  • Make links with student activists in Sri Lanka against violent attacks on them

 

3.Workshops roundup

The conference provided a lot of opportunities for useful informal discussion of a wide range of topics. These included:

The fight for Further Education

International students – for dignity, against deportations!,

What’s happening to our Unis? An overview of attacks on HE

Change the world – Organise at work!

The lessons of the Quebec students’ struggle

Defending abortion rights

Student union democracy – smashing “their” structures and building our own

Saving the NHS

 

4. Liberation, Section and Regional caucuses roundup

Disabled Caucus

Disabled students caucus ran a lot more smoothly than it ever has before. Usually our time is entirely consumed discussing access needs at the actual event but those were so well organised for, that following elections, (in which Matthew Reuben and Edmund Schlussel were elected uncontested) we began a discussion on bullying. We talked about the way it can destroy movements and officers, how to counteract it, and how to support each other. We also discussed how there is a culture of silence around disability and, especially, ‘invisible’ disability on the left, and how to tackle it. Looking to the future we want to get involved in the cross-liberation conference we hope to plan for early Spring, and we want to prepare, probably two, workshops for the next training event. We also intend to build links with groups such as DPAC with the goal of calling a national day of action against ATOS in the new year.

LGBTQ Caucus

There were about 30 delegates present but we believe work must be done to engage more LGBTQ activists, especially Black* and Trans* students. We discussed issues that affect LGBTQ students, for instance cuts in public sector services for LGBTQ people, access to health services and education due to money issues and coming out, and lack of visibility for LGBTQ students.

After elections, we talked about the idea of “community”, and how the many local LGBT societies have become depoliticised and prone to doing only inaccessible/stereotypical social events. We want to engage societies and clubs around universities and colleges in a radical political community, and in NCAFC. The caucus agreed that there was a job to do in terms of intervening in the NUS LGBT Campaign, which has radical potential.

It was also agreed to call and hold a Liberation Conference where all self identify Disabled, Black, Women, and LGBTQ people can attend to discuss issues and unify efforts to campaign for all of the groups and improve Intersectionality work. We will aim to combine this with Liberation Training sessions.

Black Power Caucus

Around 14 people attended the Black Power Caucus. This isn’t great but is an improvement on previous years. Much of the caucus’s time was taken up with a debate around elections and candidates within the caucus, but it was ultimately productive. After elections, the caucus discussed using different forms of communications – including social media – to organise, and setting up an e-list. The caucus also agreed to organise an event in the near future.

Women’s Caucus

The women’s caucus elected a new women’s committee of 9 people which aims to support the activity of women in the NCAFC locally and organise for national activity; facilitate communication and skills sharing between women activists; and promote broader involvement in NCAFC Women and the NCAFC.

We reflected on the experience of conference so far (meeting on the Saturday evening). We agreed that, despite the fact it was statistically male-dominated, it was the most positive and accessible conference we had experienced. To build upon this and improve future events we agreed to explore ensuring gender neutral toilets, childcare provision and working together to propose motions and support each other to prepare speeches and participate more actively in motions debates. We also agreed to approach the other liberation caucuses to consider how we could improve diversity within the women’s caucus.

Reviewing the Charter for Women in Education (passed at last NCAFC conference) we discussed a few areas on which we would like to focus activity in the coming period. In particular, defending and extending abortion rights; fighting against attacks on the NHS; and defending or fighting to reinstate childcare support services on campuses, stood out. We also discussed how we might relate to support networks for women who experienced violence or abuse, and considered researching the experiences of women in education around this issue.

Scotland Caucus

The group discussed how best to organise the Scottish section of NCAFC. A consensus was reached to establish a relationship similar to that of NUS UK and NUS Scotland. A working group was established to organise a conference in February to constitute NCAFC Scotland as a federation of affiliated unions, groups and individuals. It was agreed the conference would meet in Aberdeen, and the group would approach as many sympathetic groups as possible.

The working group consists of NC members from Scottish institutions, namely Megan Dunn, Mike Shaw, James McAsh, Gordon Maloney, Lucy Eskell, Hona Luisa Cohen-Fuentes and Nathan Bower-Bir. Elections were held for the NCAFC Scotland representatives on national committee, with Megan Dunn (University of Aberdeen) and Mike Shaw (University of Edinburgh) elected.

 

The group also briefly discussed recent changes in education policy in Scotland and the need to organise around housing issues.

Welsh Caucus

The Welsh caucus was bigger than in previous years.  Elections were held for the Campaign Against Fees & Cuts Cymru Committee and is now Edmund (Cardiff), Andrew (Aberystwyth), and Jamie O’Brien (Aberystwyth).

A new announcement on HE policy in Wales is due after Christmas, and we’ll be looking at how we can develop anti-cuts groups in Wales and to engage these groups in CAFCC/NCAFC.

International Caucus

The International Caucus had a well-attended and productive meeting, during which we discussed a breadth of issues confronting non-home, and in particular non-EU/EEA, students here in the UK. Some of the most pressing issues we addressed include the following: Obtaining student visas; strict monitoring of students, including attendance monitoring and the government’s “Prevent” agenda; high, volatile fees; new regulations for remaining in the UK post-study; and the UK Border Agency’s revocation of sponsor status from colleges and universities (e.g. London Met), leading to students’ loss of their visas (taking note also of the particular challenges faced by students of private colleges). We discussed the problems that follow from these—including added stress, feelings of alienation, and the threat of deportation—, noting further that many of our challenges are linked to the other Liberation Caucuses and that we would benefit from greater collaboration. 

As we enhance our understanding of these issues and their effects, we seek to engage more international students on our own and other campuses to build a broader movement. A conference to be held in Bradford in or around late February will provide us the opportunity to coordinate with other campaigns and groups to delve deeper into these issues and agree upon direct action we can take. 

We selected three members to represent us on the National Committee: Arianna Tassinari, Aadam Siciid-Muuse, and Nathan Bower-Bir.

Jewish Left Caucus

A caucus of self-defining Jewish NCAFC supporters caucused towards the end of the conference, to talk about issues such as jewish political identity and anti-Semitism. Discussion focussed on a number of issues, including the recent release of anti-Semitic cartoons by the ISG in Scotland. The caucus decided not to ask for representation on the NC, but will be an active informal caucus within the campaign. If you want to be involved, email gordonmaloney@gmail.com

 

5. Election Results: a total of 38 elections took place

National Committee ‘Block of 14′ members (14 elected, 40% reserved for women):

  • Beth Redmond, Liverpool John Moores
  • Luke Durigan, UCL
  • Roshni Joshi, South Downs College
  • James McAsh, Edinburgh University
  • Michael Chessum, UCL and ULU
  • Gordon Maloney, Aberdeen University
  • Claire Lister, Birmingham University
  • Daniel Lemberger Cooper, Royal Holloway and ULU
  • Rosie Huzzard, Sheffield College
  • Naomi Beecroft, Edinburgh University
  • Edward Maltby, London
  • Hannah Webb, UCL
  • Simon Furse, Birmingham University
  • Matt Stanley, Mid Kent College

 

Scotland Region (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Mike Shaw, Edinburgh University (Open Place)
  • Megan Dunn, Aberdeen University (Women’s Place)

 

Wales Region (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Andrew Tindall, Aberystwyth University
  • Edmund Schluessel, Cardiff University
  • Jamie O’Brien, Aberystwyth University

 

London Region (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Alex Peters-Day, London School of Economics
  • Thais Yáñez, Birkbeck College

 

Women’s Campaign (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Esther Townsend, University of East London
  • Thais Yanez, Birkbeck
  • Beth Redmond, Liverpool John Moores
  • Alice Marshall, Hull University
  • Ella Thorp, Newcastle University
  • Hanna Moy, Edinburgh University
  • Naomi Beecroft, Edinburgh University
  • Alannah Mary Jane Ainslie, Aberdeen University
  • Hona Luisa Cohen-Fuentes, Edinburgh University

 

Disabled Campaign (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Edmund Schluessel, Cardiff University
  • Matthew Reuben, Royal Holloway and Cordoba

 

Black Power Campaign (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Ravi Maitreya Normandale, SOAS (Open Place)
  • Roshni Joshi, South Downs College (Women’s Place)

 

LGBTQ Campaign (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Jack Saffery-Rowe, Royal Holloway (Open Place)
  • Sarah Watson, Aberdeen University (Women’s Place)
  • Thais Yanez, Birkbeck  (Trans Place)

 

International Section (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Arianna Tassinari, Oxford
  • Nathan Bower-Bir, Edinburgh University
  • Aadam Muuse, Bradford

 

 

6.  Motions passed in full

The NCAFC constitution which passed is now available on the website: to see it, please click here.

 

Standing Orders, Debating Procedure, and Safe Spaces Policy

Conference procedures

The Secretariat is responsible for allocating chairs to sessions and for running the debates, including procedural motions and compositing. They sit near the chair, and may not vote.

The debating procedure is as follows:

1. A proposing speech for the motion

2. Debates on any amendments to the main motion, which follow the procedure in 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

3. An equally timed opposing speech against the motion

4. Further debate at the chair’s discretion until the debate is balanced

5. Parts procedure

6. A vote. If the chair deems that there is a clear majority, they may declare the motion passed or fallen. If the chair cannot call the vote, the vote must be counted by the Secretariat, who may ask for assistance from members of the NC.

 

The parts procedure is as follows:

–          Any conference attendee may call for parts by specifying them in writing to the chair

–          The parts may be to REMOVE or PASS any part of any motion or amendment

–          The chair shall call one timed speech in favour of the parts (property of their proposer) and one equally timed speech against. They may call more if the debate is contentious and there is time.

 

Procedural motions are as follows

1. A challenge to the chair’s ruling on a vote: if this passes a revote on the motion or amendment will be held without further debate.

2. A call for a revote on any given amendment or motion: if this passes a revote on the motion or amendment will be held without further debate.

3. A call for a recount on any given amendment or motion: if this passes a count will take place again.

4. A call for more speeches on any given amendment or motion: if this passes, another round of speeches will be held. (The chair may also accept this motion without a vote).

5. No confidence in the Chair: if this passes, a new Chair will be elected from the floor by show of hands.

6. A call for a suspension of procedural motions: if this passes, no procedural motions may be proposed other than motion 8.

7. A call for a change in the agenda: if this passes, the agenda will be amended accordingly.

8. A reinstatement of procedural motions: if this passes, the outcome of motion 6 is reversed.

 

Procedural motions take precedence over the debating procedure. They can be proposed by any conference attendee.  In the case of motion 5, the Chair will vacate, and the debate will be chaired by a member of the Secretariat.

 

Elections at conference

The following elections shall take place at conference:

  • Elections for the National Committee
  • Elections in autonomous caucuses

 

The Secretariat have responsibility for co-ordinating non-autonomous elections at conference, and appointing a Returning Officer or returning Officers. Returning Officers have responsibility for running and announcing elections at conference, and may not run for election themselves.

 

The elections for non-autonomous elections shall be held as follows:

–          Candidates must nominate themselves by a set deadline

–          Candidates running for the same position shall be given the same allocated hustings length

–          The voting system shall be Single Transferable Vote

–          If a gender quota system is in place, ballots will be counted regardless of it in the first instance. The lowest ordinarily elected non-quota candidates will then be excluded from the count, and candidates on the quota promoted, until the quota has been satisfied.

 

Liberation, section and regional caucuses shall hold elections for their positions as follows:

–          Elections must be held at every conference. (Caucuses may also hold additional elections at training caucuses if they vote to do so).

–          Elections shall be run by an appointee of the caucus.

–          Candidates shall make elections speeches, and have equal time allocated

–          Elections may be approved by show of hands if any position is uncontested; if not, Alternative Vote must be used

 

 

Safer Spaces Policy

Anyone who comes to NCAFC-organised events is subject to this policy.

NCAFC cannot fully meet its goals if it is not fully inclusive, or if it leaves any demographic feeling marginalised, unrepresented, or unwelcome. This safe space policy is designed to ensure that meetings take place in a considerate and relevant manner, without participants being undermined for discriminatory reasons.

If someone violates these agreements three times, they will be asked to leave the space. The three-strike policy can be bypassed if a serious infraction of these agreements happens, to the extent that someone feels unsafe. Examples of serious infractions include, but are not limited to, harassment, bullying, theft, sexual harassment, sexual assault and threatening or violent behaviour. NCAFC takes all violations of these agreements seriously, so please don’t hesitate to make your concerns known.

1. To ensure that the safe(r) space policy is followed, it is imperative that the chairing process is not impeded.

2. Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable and will be challenged. This includes, but is not limited to: racism, ageism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, sexism, body-shaming, slut-shaming or ableism. Similarly, prejudice based on ethnicity, nationality, class, gender identity, gender presentation, language, ability, asylum status, political or religious affiliation will not be tolerated.

3. Respect each other’s physical and emotional boundaries. Always get explicit verbal consent before touching someone or crossing boundaries, regardless of the intentions behind the contact. Sexual harassment or sexual assault will lead to the perpetrator being banned from meetings and police involvement, if desired by the victim(s), will be fully supported. If you encounter any kind of harassment or assault please let us know, so that those responsible can be dealt with.

4. Be aware of the social space you occupy, as well as the positions and privileges you may be conveying, including racial, class and gender privilege. If a member of a liberation strand requests that you change your use of language regarding topics about their liberation strand, please be respectful and change your use of language. If you are unsure as to the reason your language was inappropriate or offensive, please politely contact the relevant liberation strand officers.

5. Avoid assuming the opinions and identifications of other participants. Examples include, but are not limited to, assumptions regarding sex, sexuality, gender identity, preferred personal pronouns, neurotypicality, able-bodied status, socio-economic background, political opinion, relationship model and religious beliefs.

6. Recognize that we try not to judge, put each other down or compete.

7. Be aware of the language you use in discussion and how you relate to others. Try to speak slowly, clearly and use uncomplicated language. Please do not applaud people as it impacts on the accessibility of events. If you are unsure of the terminology relating to another’s circumstances it is generally preferable to seek clarification, rather than risk using inaccurate or stereotyping terms.

8. The group endeavours as much as is feasible to ensure that meeting spaces are as accessible as possible to the widest range of people. Where it is allowed by the venue, there will be a supervised quiet/safe space room available at every event. In addition to this, if there has not been an access break in the previous 90 minutes, or if the atmosphere of a meeting has become counter-productive to reasoned discussion, then an access break of no less than 10 minutes must be taken by everyone, if requested by any one person.

9. Conferences, training events and workshops are alcohol- and illicit drug-free. There shall be no consumption of alcohol in the venue during the specified conference, training event or workshop times. Social events organised outside of these by NCAFC will allow the consumption of alcohol, unless stated otherwise by the event organisers.

10. Foster a spirit of mutual respect: listen to the wisdom everyone brings to the group and treat people with respect.

11. Give each person the time and space to speak. In large groups, or for groups using facilitation: use the approved hand signals to indicate you wish to speak. These hand signals will be clarified at the start of each discussion.

12. “Respect the person; challenge their behaviour.”: whilst a person’s behaviour may be problematic, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and their behaviour does not negate that fact.

13. Whilst ground rules are collective responsibility, everyone is also personally responsible for their own behaviour.

 

Challenging Bullying in the student movement

Notes:

1. A culture of bullying is rife throughout the NUS and its member unions, targeted at anyone who challenges established order.

Believes:

1. This culture puts the health of many student activists and the health of the student movement at risk.

2. This culture is not confined to any one faction or political aligment.

Resolves:

1. We will work to propose a constructive solution to the culture of bullying in the student movement

2. We will speak openly about bullying and its consequences

3. We will examine our own behaviour as individuals and a movement as a step to this openness.

 

Access at NCAFC Events

Notes

1 *That there are a number of disabled people, and people with access requirements that regularly attend, or might wish to attend NCAFC events

2 *That NCAFC currently has no accessibility policy

3 *That NCAFC Disabled Caucus ran a session on access needs during the liberation session, and took suggestions for what would be necessary from as many people as possible

Believes

1 *That more disabled people will feel comfortable attending NCAFC events if access information is made clear from the outset

2 *That access has been severely compromised at previous NCAFC events and this is not acceptable

Resolves

1 *To implement the following as standard for all NCAFC Events:

-A method of asking people to declare access needs when registering for the conference

-Documents (motions, timetable, any other documents) being released online as .doc and .pdf a week in advance of the conference to allow people time to print or prepare for them as necessary

-The venue being a location with accessible public transport links

-Information regarding whether the venue is wheelchair accessible to be released at the same time as the venue is released

-Access breaks of at least 15 minutes, at least every 90 minutes, to be standard, timetabled, and not to be voted on

-Explanation being given to all delegates regarding the inappropriate nature of clapping and whooping, and hand signals to be explained instead

-Explanation being given about why ableist language is no more acceptable than homophobic, transphobic, racist, or sexist language

2 *To attempt to implement the following at all NCAFC events, and inform attendees as early as possible if this cannot be implemented

-A timetable to be kept to exactly, without any unexpected changes, delays or alterations

-A microphone and hearing loop system, both to ensure people are able to hear the debate

-All venues to be fully wheelchair accessible, with ramps and lifts as necessary

-Members of the NC who can be approached for assistance to be easily visually identifiable

-All documents available on coloured paper or with coloured acetate overlays

-Sweets and water to be available on or near conference floor

-A quiet area to be present for people if they wish to leave conference floor

Mandates

1 *The NC to implement all of Resolves 1 for every further event

2 *The NC to attempt to implement Resolves 2 for every further event and inform attendees when this will not be possible

3 *The NC to look into the viability of a palantypist, sign interpretation, streaming, and large video screens of speakers for future events

4* Whomever is responsible for putting together a timetable to discuss it with the representative(s) of disabled caucus on the NC before it is released, to ensure it is accessible.

 

Developing the NCAFC

The NCAFC has now existed for almost three years. During that time the campaign has served an irreplaceable function as the only national left-wing student organisation uniting in struggle, on the basis of honest cooperation and an open democracy, activists with widely differing political views. This has allowed us to play a major role.

The British student movement is noticeably stronger than it was four years ago. However, compared to the upheavals of late 2010 and early 2011, there is a relative lull. It is vital that we use this space to solidify our organisation, reach out to wider layers of activists, step up our political agitation, education and self-education, and develop our campaigns.

It is important that we do not think of the student movement as just waiting for the next big bang. Even a much bigger organisation than ours currently is cannot create mass movements at will. None of us predicted the revolt of winter 2010-11 (though with hindsight we can see its precursors in the Gaza occupations of 2009 and the local anti-cuts battles of 2009-10); no one in Quebec predicted their 2012 student uprising. Major differences between the Quebecois student movement and ours not withstanding, the lesson from Quebec is that ASSE built a solid organisation active in many campaigns and undertaking many initiatives during the quieter periods, creating the conditions for the upheaval, playing a central role in its victory – and developing its organisation out of the struggle.

What we need to do is help student activists Educate, Agitate and Organise around a range of issues, developing our ideas, organisation and campaigns on a variety of levels.

Some of what we need to do will be dealt with in other motions. But over the next sixth months development of the NCAFC should include:

1. On an organisational level: a better functioning, more regularly meeting National Committee, which creates subcommittees and working groups to research and organise on a variety of issues; a proper system of affiliations by local groups, student unions etc; and a concerted drive to extend our network of contact with local groups.
2. Seeking to develop broad, non-sectarian, united student anti-cuts/mobilising committees on every campus, with a focus on fighting cuts and privatisation and making links with campus workers as they resist the squeeze on their pay, terms and conditions which seems to be the main feature of management attacks this year.
3. Relaunching and developing existing campaigns such as Take Back Your Campus and the VC Pledge.
4. Developing campaigns on issues which affect or interest large numbers of students, but are currently neglected by the organised student left, such as housing and the NHS.
5. Building a solid network of FE and school student activists through Schools and Colleges Against Fees and Cuts.
6. Develop the work with and among international students done in the last months.
7. Running a political campaign on who should pay for free education and to rebuild education and public services, focused on two key demands: tax the rich/business and expropriate the banks.
8. Producing more and better NCAFC materials.

9. Extending and developing our international links.
10. Producing materials on the content, purpose and control of education under the title “Education for Liberation”.

 

• Student Worker Motion

This Conference Notes:

  1. A NUS survey noted – “The overwhelming majority of students, three out of four, take on paid employment to help make ends meet, either during term time or during the holidays. Holiday work is more popular than term time work, with 51 per cent of students planning to work during the holidays” (NUS Student Experience Report, 2008, p.33).
  2. These forms of employment are usually unskilled, low paid and casualised such as within bar or retail work.
  3. The “Supersize My Pay” campaign from the UNITE union in New Zealand which broke legal minimum wage discrimination that existed for the minimum waged young workers as well as the recent Wal-Mart and fast food industrial actions in the USA.
  4. Progress already made by the GMB Trade Union Southern Region Young Members, Royal Holloway University and the University of London Union (ULU) in establishing student worker networks and the successes particularly at Royal Holloway already of winning conditions for students and fighting for recognition with the student union there.

 

This Conference Believes:

  1. That we must begin to help organise students who work on campus and elsewhere not just for better conditions, but as a fundamentally political activity, one that can equip students when they leave university with the skills in their workplaces to fight back but also be part of transforming the labour movement in the here and now.
  2. That NCAFC wherever it is present needs to be part of the argument that students should see themselves as workers: that education we receive is the product of labour, from cleaners, admins to lecturers etc. and to join with these workers for better conditions for all.

 

This Conference Resolves:

  1. To help co-sponsor a speaking tour in the new year of a Wal-Mart and/or fast food striking worker around the UK.
  2. To support circulation in print and online of “Know Your Rights” material to disseminate everywhere NCAFC has a presence in a similar way to ULU.
  3. To advertise online and in print all efforts towards establishing student worker networks and task the incoming national committee to discussions with local Trade Union branches – holding recruitment days on campus, running workshops etc.
  4. Encourage all students not in employment to be involved with initiatives to unionise and organise the unemployed, including but not limited to the UNITE community branches. The incoming national committee should contact and begin discussions with UNITE and other such initiatives on how this can be done.

 

Defend the NHS!

Conference notes
1. The battles taking place on many fronts to defend the NHS from the Tories’ attempts to dismember it.
2. The recent springing up of many more powerful local campaigns, including for instance the battle to save Lewisham A&E, which has seen many thousands of people on the streets.
3. That many students are active in, and many more interested in and could become involved in, this struggle.

Conference believes
1. That the NHS represents a limited piece of the what Marx called “the political economy of the working class”, putting the interests of human beings before the interests of profit – like our demand for free education in public, democratic education system.
2. That the NCAFC needs to mobilise students in defence of public services and the welfare state beyond education, and that this is a crucial part of that fight.

Conference resolves
1. To produce a guide to the issues surrounding the NHS and how students can become active campaigning to defend it.
2. To investigate organising a student day or week of action in defence of the NHS.
3. To approach organisations including the medical student network Medsin, BMA Students, Keep Our NHS Public and the NHS Unity Network to organise a joint campaign.
4. To add our name to the statement to rebuild the NHS being circulated by the NHS Unity Network (see below).

***

Labour: rebuild the NHS!

We are campaigning for the Labour Party to develop and fight for the policy on the NHS agreed by its conference, and for the next Labour government to carry it out.

Numerous Constituency Labour Parties submitted policy to the 2012 party conference calling for a clear commitment to repealing the Tories’ Health and Social Care Act, reversing privatisation and marketisation, and restoring the NHS as a public service. The conference passed a composite resolution based on these motions unanimously.

We welcome commitment to repeal the Act, but reject arguments against top down reorganisation. The Health and Social Care Act represented a comprehensive reorganisation to subordinate the NHS to market forces. We want a comprehensive reorganisation of the health service in order to save and restore it.

We want a return to the founding principles of the NHS: quality healthcare for all on the basis of need, as a right, in a publicly owned, publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable system. To achieve that, we will campaign for and demand Labour campaigns for:

1. Repeal of the Health and Social Care Act
2. Abolition of the new provision allowing 49 percent private beds in NHS hospitals
3. Restoration of the Secretary of State’s duty to provide a comprehensive service
4. NHS organisations to be the preferred provider of care in all cases
5. Reversal of the Tories’ funding cuts and provision of adequate funding
6. Abolition of the obscenely wasteful and inefficient internal market/purchaser-provider split
7. Replacement of PFI, also obscenely wasteful, with direct funding; write off existing PFI debt
8. Halting and reversal of privatisation and outsourcing at every level
9. Abolition of Foundation Trusts, replacement of CCGs by democratic local health authorities
10. Decent, national pay, terms and conditions and pensions for NHS workers, and a democratic voice for them in how the service is run.

We reject the argument that there is no money in society to pay for restoring the health service. The NHS was created at a time when British society as a whole was much poorer than now. Taxation of rising dividend payments and the incomes of the rich, and using the wealth of the nationalised banks for social purposes, are potentially rich sources of funds. In addition, abolishing market mechanisms and PFI would save many billions.

We will work with comrades in the Labour Party, health workers’ organisations, the broader trade union movement and NHS campaigners to defend our health service and fight for these policies.

 

 

Bring Back EMA!

Conference believes:

 

1.  The scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) was a grave error.

2.  This scrapping of the EMA was done is spite of Michael Gove, now-Education Secretary famously saying in early 2010 before the general election: “Ed Balls keeps saying that we are committed to scrapping the EMA. I have never said this. We won’t.”

3.  EMA allowed students from some of the poorest families to access Further Education, and its abolition has had a hugely detrimental impact, hitting young women and Black students particularly hard.

4.  Evidence from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, found that the EMA increased the proportion of young people who stayed in education from 65% to 69% among 16-year-olds and from 54% to 61% among 17-year-olds.

5. Our fight for social justice and accessible public education is not conditional on its “benefiting the economy” or “being good for growth”.

6. EMA has continued in Wales, albeit in a diminished form, and remains an invaluable part of support for college students

7. Indications from Welsh Labour and from the Labour Party nationally both show a long-standing intent to stop EMA in Wales when the school leaving age is raised to 18.

8. EMA has been secured in Wales through 2014

9. The Welsh Government has instead decided to take the lead on privatising & marketising colleges in Wales

 

 

Conference further believes:

 

1.  EMA wasn’t scrapped without a fight. An enormous, spontaneous FE student uprising took on the government in 2010 to demand EMA was saved. Despite hundreds of thousands of students protesting, occupying and walking out of their colleges this Tory-led government ignored a generation.

2.  But the government also radicalised a generation and the anger over the scrapping of the EMA remains.

3. That while the scrapping of EMA was a terrible thing, and an attack on working class students, it would be a mistake simply to call for the reintroduction of something that was never good enough in the first place.
4. Simply saying something easy and populist is not the way to win a serious political campaign. We need a better and broader analysis of FE policy
5. If we call only for the reinstatement of EMA we are letting down everyone who has been hit by other cuts in FE, which are less glib to talk about.
6. We call for living grants for all students: this includes FE
7. The 2010 student occupations in Wales were specifically cited by the Welsh Government in explaining their decision to continue EMA

8. Other grants in Wales have however been cut

9. Youth Fight for Jobs Wales, Action Against Cuts Cardiff, Aberystwyth Radical Forum and other anti-cuts groups in Wales advocate opposition to all cuts to public sector jobs and services

10. Campaigning around single issues in isolation is less effective than coherent, broad campaigns with the ultimate goal of a democratically-run socialist education system.
Resolves:
1. To do our homework on school and FE funding policy, and produce a detailed set of analyses and demands
2. To call for living grants for students – not simply the reinstatement of EMA

3. To invite activists from the Wales anti-cuts movement to write a guest blog for NCAFC detailing their success in defending EMA

4. To continue opposition to all cuts and public criticism of all elected officials who vote for cuts

5. To integrate campaigning to save EMA into a broad and coherent strategy around college students, including but not limited to: building fighting college students’ unions; opposing privatisation & marketisation; opposing market-driven mergers and cuts in courses and lecturers; resisting all fees in education; and more things that I don’t have time to list since the amendments deadline is in 2 minutes

6. To have more time to submit amendments next year

 

The labour movement and free education

 

Conference notes

1. That almost all trade unions have policy for free education.
2. That the Labour Party’s policy to reduce fees from £9k to £6k was not decided democratically by any Labour Party body, but – like so much Labour Party policy – made up by the leadership.

Conference believes
1. That even the incredibly limited promises the Labour leadership has made are unlikely to fulfilled without a fight.
2. That it is necessary for the labour movement and student movement to make clear demands on the Labour Party and the next Labour government.
3. That this is not at all counterposed to our fundamental method of struggle on our campuses and in the streets. The point is not to politely petition Ed Miliband, but to seek to bring pressure to bear through every possible channel.
4. That in the first instance this means seeking clear policy on education in the unions, and demanding they seek to impose this policy on/in Labour.

Conference resolves
1. To work with labour movement activists to seek to establish a “Trade unions for free education” coalition.
2. To approach left-wingers in Young Labour including LRC Youth about organising a joint campaign to demand the Labour Party changes its policies on education.
3. To produce a manifesto for education and seek to win support for it in the labour movement.

 

Student housing

 

NCAFC notes
1. That prices for student accommodation have doubled in the last ten years, with average weekly rent being £117.69.
2. That this is partly because of an increased use of private accommodaiton.
3. That student support (grants/loans) only just covers the cost of rent and leaves almost nothing for actual living.
4. That this has forced many students into finding (mostly low-paid, precarious) work and/or taking out large commercial bank loans.
5. That NUS has produced materials on this issue, but neither radical demands nor a visible campaign.
NCAFC believes
1. That accommodation quality and costs are in reality as much of an issue for students as fees, and need to be campaigned on.
2. That we should, minimally, be demanding rents which cover the cost of running accommodation but do not make a huge profit for the landowner/company.3. That this will require both local campaigns and national coordination with a clear set of demands.
NCAFC resolves
1. To produce a campaign pack on campaigning over the issue of housing, including a charter of basic demands – including the demand that absolutely no one should pay over £100 a week.
2. To encourage supporting anticuts groups and SUs to campaign on this issue.
3. To raise this issue in motions to NUS conference.
4. To link demands around student housing to broader questions of the cost of private rented accommodation, the lack of council housing, access to and level of Housing Benefit and other benefits etc.

 

Abolish all debt

 

Conference Believes

  1. Personal debt in the UK stands at £1.412 trillion, an average of £53,706 per household
  2. Student debts under the new fees regime will mean an automatic debt of £27,000 – for a home/EU student on an undergraduate course in England (and £36,000 in Scotland). Once living costs are taken into account, this may well come to over £50,000
  3. Postgraduate and international students take on vast sums of debt and frequently support their studies with commercial loans
  4. The past few years has seen a significant increase in loan sharks and pay day loans targeting students.
  5. Abject poverty, lack of access to basic things like food, shelter and wearable clothes, is not uncommon for some students – especially those with no support from home or parents.
  6. A large proportion of students are forced to take on part time work – if they can get it – to cover their living costs.
  7. Debt is a cause of mental health problems, and of suicide. On 4th December the Huffington Post reported the death of a 23 year old unemployed graduate.

Conference Further Believes

  1. Debt is a major source of misery and poverty for a huge proportion of the population in modern society
  2. Debt is a class issue: it purchases our time, committing us to work longer and harder, while the profits of our work are enjoyed only by a privileged elite.
  3. The call for abolition of student debt is sound and would find serious support among students
  4. The call for abolition of student debt is capable of serving a broader struggle against the present arrangement of society: it could be the tip of the iceberg for a much bigger campaign for the abolition of all debt.

Conference Resolves

  1. To make the abolition of student debt a major political priority
  2. To produce articles and materials on the politics of debt and connected issues
  3. To make debt an issue for any Activist Welfare activities that we undertake

 

 

The Left and NUS

Conference Resolves

1. To work towards a united left intervention at NUS Conference that involves common themes and a slate for the NUS Elections

 

 

 

Emergency motion – support the student movement in Sri Lanka!

Notes
1. That since 28 November teachers and students in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, have been on strike against the arrest of leading Tamil activists at their university, including three senior figures from the SU.
2. That the students were brutally attacked by government paramilities that have set up in an office opposite the university.
3. That last months police and intelligence officers invaded the university, breaking into and ransacking student rooms. When MPs and prominent journalists visited the scene, they were also attacked – as were the 400 students who marched in protest.
3. That all this follows a systematic pattern of repression against Tamils which has been going on since the defeat of Tamil nationalists by the Sri Lankan military in 2009.

Resolves
1. To support the protesters in Jaffna and send a message of solidarity from this conference.
2. To send a message of protest to the Sri Lankan High Commission.
3. To seek to make links with student activists in Sri Lanka