Student politics affects us all!

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Hi I’m John Fish, I’m an MA Entrepreneurship student at Falmouth University. You might remember me from the SU elections where I wore a rather questionable fish suit, threw shade at Penryn Fitfinder and sat in a paddling pool on campus for several hours (I was a very serious candidate). I recently ran to be the NUS delegate for Falmouth University and ended up making the 14 hour train journey to Glasgow to National Conference so I could represent 5000 odd students that make up the Uni.

Images (L-R) Delegate training, Shakira Martin's opening speech, NUS reforms debate.

I first became interested in student experience at University in my second year of University when I was elected to a society committee. Prior to this I hadn’t really realised just how much of an effect the Students’ Union had on my own and many other’s time in Higher Education and how much the National Union of Students (NUS) helped this process through setting policy. Naturally I jumped at the chance to see the decision-making process that would affect the 7 million students that NUS represents.

The experience was definitely an interesting one, though less chaotic than in recent years according to many that I talked to. This was mainly due to conference having to vote on a series of reforms that would help the NUS’s pretty bleak financial situation after their somewhat less than stellar rebranding of the NUS Extra Card to the TOTUM card and the stiff competition they face from other student-orientated discount companies. There was also much talk about a lack of engagement in Student’s Unions around the country and with the NUS too with some claiming that they had conversations with students who thought that NUS was just a discount card. Should these reforms have failed then the NUS would have closed entirely and students would be without a national body to represent their interests. Fortunately conference passed these reforms with several amendments including refunding the Trans and Postgraduate student campaigns, both of which had been stripped of their funds without any warning whatsoever prompting fierce backlash. Perhaps the reforms had focused minds this year as conference was able to pass considerably more motions this year than many others according to those I talked to, which gives the newly elected officers plenty to be getting on with.

Since these reforms passed, NUS is still a functioning organisation and students here in Penryn and across the country continue to be represented at a national level. It is however much leaner organisation so will need a few years of recovery before it gets back to full strength. Being engaged with the wide range of issues facing students is crucial now more than ever so I would highly recommend being involved, not just next year as a delegate to NUS conference, but also here on campus and with FXU. In my five years as a student I’ve found the process of just getting involved can be one of the most rewarding things you can do and I feel lucky that in my final year as a student in higher education I was able to do so at National Conference.