NUS Scotland Conference 2022
Earlier this month, Amy and Cara were in Dundee for the National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland Conference.
What is NUS?
NUS is the central organisation which represents and works with affiliated students’ associations across the UK. There are also devolved nations of the NUS – Scotland (more on that later), Wales (UCM Cymru) and Northern Ireland (NUS-USI).
The conference was spread over two days. Day 1 included sessions hearing from the candidates standing for NUS Scotland President elections, a panel discussion on Organising to Win and hearing from NUS UK President, Larissa Kennedy. Day 2 focused on the strategic direction of NUS Scotland and policy discussions.
Students associations submit papers or “motions” which state an issue which NUS should aim to address over the next year or few years. These go through a “priority vote” to find out which of the issues are most important. In the case of NUS Scotland conference this year, it was cut down to the 4 following policies:
- Independent National Union Of Students For Scotland
- Sexual Harassment and Violence
- Mental Health and Wellbeing
Then, those attending the conference get the opportunity to discuss and vote on the motsions. The conference made room for time for officers to hear from those that had proposed the policies and discuss them with the aim of reaching a “consensus agreement” that NUS should or should not take action to work on these. Following the NUS UK conference and lack of support from delegates (those attending and voting at the conference), there was a slight change in plan as to what happened with the policies. Initially, delegates were asked to reach a consensus, however, the lack of ability to actually shape the policies there and then was really not welcomed. This was adapted a little bit for the NUS Scotland Conference (much to the delight of those attending, having most not reflected on NUS UK conference too favourably…). All the policies were passed, and NUS will now strive to getting the wheels in motion for each of these in the year(s) to come.
An independent NUS Scotland
One of the biggest policies put forward set out why NUS Scotland should become an independent body from NUS UK. The feelings on this policy were really quite polarised. The feelings for and against were pretty strong. One delegate even going so far to say their union would disaffiliate immediately if the motion passed…NUS Scotland Conference 2022 ultimately voted for independence and will now take steps to look into how this can be made possible. Those who put forward the motion were very keen to make those skeptical aware that this would not mean cutting ties immediately. It just allows NUS Scotland to look into the possibility with the scope to take action if it is feasible. From what we heard, its been spoken about outside of conference halls for many years. You can check out NUS Scotland President, Matt Crilly, and NUS UK President, Larissa Kennedy’s statement on it here.
A new NUS Scotland President!
A really exciting part of the conference was hearing from the presidential candidates. One of whom had to call in from home to give their speech despite being unwell – commitment! All candidates gave wonderfully passionate speeches. All were yearning to achieve great things that would really make a difference to students across the country. That being said, Cara and I already knew who we wanted to win. The speeches gave a great opportunity to get a feel for the candidates’ personalities and passions. NUS Scotland President 2022-2024 was announced as Ellie Gomersall – current president at SAUWS. Having worked with Ellie for part of our Gender-Based Violence project, we were delighted!
There was also a lovely awards and dinner event which was a great opportunity for the students and officers attending to relax and network! This featured some impromptu karaoke which led to some telling off by NUS staff who wanted to head to their beds after a long day working (sorry!). Having worked predominantly online and being devoid of getting much time to work and meet other great people working across the sector, it really was a wonderful evening and will be a highlight as I come towards the end of my term (even if the soup was a bit weird!).
SRUCSA Central Co-President