NUS100 Advisory Group - or, Tom goes to London

Last week, I went to London to meet with the NUS100 Advisory Group – the main steering group for NUS100. We worked to develop the strategy that will take NUS to its hundredth birthday in 2022: this was launched around eighteen months ago and touted as NUS’s “manifesto for a just and sustainable future”.

NUI met with group members including NUS officials Simon Blake (the NUS CEO) and Ali Milani (NUS VP Union Development), and other SU sabbatical officers Sodiq Akinbade (President of London South Bank University) and Maria Battul (University of Bradford Students’ Union Women’s and Campaigns Officer), to discuss what NUS100 wants to achieve and how to work towards this.

The four things NUS100 wants to achieve are:

-       Everyone being able to access and excel in post-16 education

-       The learner voice (that is, students’ and apprentices’ voice) creates change in education

-       Wellbeing and welfare are central to the student union experience

-       Students have the confidence to engage in civic life.

The four ways the group aims to achieve this are:

-       Supporting excellence in students’ unions

-       Developing a strong and influential collective voice

-       Putting data and evidence at the heart of the student movement

-       And lastly, getting and keeping the best people to do this.

These are very broad objectives and methods, and purposefully so. NUS are spending a significant amount of time working out how best to prioritise their money, resources and time. In addition, the NUS is working on how to improve communication of this work to its membership of 7 million students as well as the world at large. We discussed potential ideas in the meeting. Balancing a plethora of NUS priorities may not be easy – from liberation and climate justice to reducing the attainment gap, the NUS does a lot of important work. It’s exciting to help shape how this all will continue.

There is also a question of how we can make this a holistic UK-wide strategy. There are 4 constituent bodies in NUS: NUS UK, NUS Scotland, NUS Wales and NUS-USI (Northern Ireland). Each are politically autonomous from the central body for historical reasons. As such, the inclusion of these bodies in the overall strategy needs to be managed carefully and involve them at every step of the way. I was glad to be able to discuss how to navigate this complex situation in the meeting.

Finally, there was also a discussion about NUS’s new quality mark for students’ unions, called (handily) Quality Students’ Unions. QSUs, as the kids call it, has several SUs working on completing this accreditation. Once their submissions are complete, it’s reviewed and the accreditation is displayed clearly on their website. NUS also provides tailored support on how to improve practices, to enable SUs to improve the student experience. Oxford SU are working on their submission right now.

That’s all for what I discussed on my half-day jolly to London last week. It’s quite exciting how much the NUS is adapting to better serve their membership – including improvements in training and support for us sabbs as well.

Any questions or comments, drop me a line – and have a great break!