YES or NO to the NUS?

On December 6th, all students at the University of Southampton will be able to vote in the SUSU Referendum, as to if SUSU, the Students' Union, should affiliate with NUS, the National Union of Students.

We've created this webpage to provide you with impartial advice, so you know the crucial facts and figures. It is important you make your own mind up, and vote on December 6th.

Some FAQ's:

At last year's SUSU AGM, a decision was made to hold a referendum; "should SUSU join the NUS?"

There was a referendum exactly like this two years ago. The result of that one, of which 3444 people voted, two thirds voted no.

The SUSU Website is a good hub for everything official. Read more: Southampton's Student Media outlets; The Wessex Scene, The Soton Tab, SUSUtv and Surge News are all posting regular media updates, too.

There are official Yes and No Facebook pages for each side of the campaign.

They are Yes 2 NUS and No To NUS.

For people who are interested in the financial implications on SUSU, there is an Independent Auditors Report which is worth a quick look… though you can easily get bogged down in the numbers!

The NUS is the National Union of Students, described on their website as "the national voice of students helping them to campaign, get cheap student discounts and provide advice on living student life to the full".

Southampton's Student Union (SUSU) was a member of the the NUS until 2002, though chose to disaffiliate for a number of reasons, mainly financial. SUSU has remained independent ever since, even through a referendum two years ago asking to re-affiliate. Some have argued the 10 years have been good for the Union, others will argue that re-affiliating is a good decision, particularly now.

My name is Alastair 'Moggy' Mogford. I'm a Union Councillor at SUSU, and whilst of course I have my own opinion, I'd like to call myself impartial to this debate in this website.

Why? Because I think everyone should make their own informed decision.

This website was set up independently of SUSU and any of its student groups or departments.

The financial implications

Reasons to vote YES

  • The SUSU finance balance sheet is currently healthy, and SUSU should easily have the money to spend on affiliation.
  • If SUSU were to join, the first year of affiliation would only cost £25,746.70
  • NUSSL, the NUS's trading arm, would be able to make SUSU money back each year by providing cheaper goods for the shop, cafe, Stag's, etc.
  • For every NUS Extra discounts card sold, SUSU would take a cut of every purchase. For a £12 card, SUSU would net £4.70.

Reasons to vote NO

  • Affiliation to the NUS will cost £51,493.40, which some argue could be money spent better elsewhere - such as clubs and societies.
  • According the Independent Auditors Report, NUSSL will only save £16,351, which is a small proportion of money compared to affiliation costs in the first place.
  • If joining NUSSL, SUSU's commercial outlets (shop, cafe, bars, etc.) will have a restricted choice of products to stock. Right now, SUSU can pick and choose it's entire product range as it likes.
  • NUS Extra card sales are impossible to predict, so savings are only 'possible'
  • With all the information, both possible and probable savings included, the net cost of joining the NUS would be £31,841.
National campaigns & independence

Reasons to vote YES

  • The NUS has a national student voice that lobbies for better standards on behalf of students. Joining the NUS would allow us to shape these messages.
  • The NUS organises national protests, such as #DEMO2012, which SUSU could attend and help voice concerns on a national scale.
  • NUS represents students on a far grander scale than any one Students’ Union alone ever could. They have lobbied government before for issues such as student rights, saving childcare funds for student parents, changes Disability Student Allowance, hidden course costs and unscrupulous landlords with the introduction of tenancy deposit schemes.
  • Being part of the NUS would allow for national recognition, so SUSU members could attend and even win at the NUS Awards each year.

Reasons to vote NO

  • SUSU is a strong and independent union without the NUS, as has been seen in the past 10 years. SUSU is run by you, and any Southampton student can create policy (see all the exiting ones here).
  • If considered significant, SUSU can attend student protests by the NUS anyway - as was done in 2010. Some would argue these protests are the wrong way about lobbying education changes, given the bad reputation it gave students after the 2010 demo.
  • SUSU already credits it's members with events such as the EVA's (Excellence in Volunteering Awards) and the AU Ball & Awards.
  • Most clubs, societies and departments in Southampton already compete and engage on a national scale through their own national bodies or groups, such as BUCS in Sport.
What the NUS can offer SUSU

Reasons to vote YES

  • The NUS provides a wealth of free student officer training - for things like team building, decision making and project management - which SUSU would have access to.
  • We'd all gain access to a national employability award scheme, which is recognised widely by employers.
  • NUS Connect is a huge online database that, if affiliated, we'd have access to. It's a collective of resources, campaign plans and ideas, briefings and more. This would save staff time by not conducting research that may already have been done.
  • NUS Digital is technical service that would provide tools to enhance the online experience of the SUSU website, as well as generating greater income from online advertising.
  • Give student entrepreneurs the opportunity to apply for up to £120,000 to start up businesses through the Innovation & Social Enterprise Academy
  • The NUS Green Impact scheme can help SUSU develop a green strategy with the help of a panel of experts, in order to reduce student union's around the country reduce their carbon footprint.
  • The NUS campaigns and supports minority groups of students, such as LGBT, black, disabilities, and more… together with elected officers to represent these groups nationally.
  • The SUSU Performing Arts societies would benefit from a national performing arts network of support, events collaboration and contacts.

Reasons to vote NO

  • Training & national NUS conferences have associated costs. SUSU already provides excellent training for it's own elected officers - so why is the NUS training needed?
  • The university's current Graduate Passport scheme is a sufficient scheme tailored for Southampton students - do we really need a national scheme?
  • The Union has dedicated staff members for a reason - to research what Southampton students want or need. NUS Connect would be focussed on national work or about unions completely different to ours.
  • The SUSU website is established already, with suitable technology installed. Changes could be costly and some argue that NUS Digital services are largely designed for smaller unions with less expertise in online engagement, if at all.
  • The Innovation & Social Enterprise Academy is a national body that does not guarantee to help Southampton students. The University already provides a sum of £50,000 in the Takeoff project for budding entrepreneurs.
  • SUSU already has a fantastic Ethical & Environmental Committee that works to create an ever-greener Union. Every union has their own different union, so there is arguably little to gain from a national body.
  • Some have argued against the need for minority group officers, particularly with the NUS being tagged as a "political organisation" where viewpoints may not be representative of all political beliefs.
Discounts & NUS Extra Cards

Reasons to vote YES

  • As a member of the NUS, Southampton students would be able to get a NUS Extra card that would get them great student discounts.
  • Some of the student discounts are exclusive to the NUS Extra card, and can't be obtained with just as Southampton ID card, such as with Spotify and National Express.
  • SUSU would earn a small commission of every NUS Extra card purchased, £4.70 of a £12 card, to be precise.
  • There are discounts for buying cards with longer validity, so a 36 month card would cost just £32.
  • NUS Extra cards are entirely optional, and if the discounts are not for you - you don't need to buy!

Reasons to vote NO

  • NUS Extra cards will cost you at least £12 in the first place - they are not free.
  • Most generic "student discounts" can be obtained by using your Southampton ID card anyway.
  • Free discount sites have been set up, such as UNiDAYS and StudentBeans, where you can get great deals regardless of your ID card ownership.
  • When SUSU disaffiliated from the NUS in 2002, only some 10% of the student population had NUS cards - a tiny proportion - and they were free back then!
  • National uptake of NUS Extra cards today is only around 5.7%.
Hold on, so what will actually change for me?

To be honest, not much on face value. We'll let you decide these ones for yourself.

So, get voting!

What's it to be? YES or NO ?

Voting is today over at, and closes at 6pm! So get on it!

Use your vote wisely.

If you have something to add, please leave your comments below.

This website was set up independently of SUSU and any of its student groups or departments.
This page has been seen 5537 times.

Written, developed and coded by Alastair 'Moggy' Mogford. November 2012.
I made this voluntarily and for free, so if you found this information useful, you are welcome to buy me a drink at The Stag's sometime.