As this year’s election winds to a close, you’ve probably noticed the “vote for me for NUS Delegate” on candidates’ profiles. But what is the NUS and why should you care?
The NUS is the National Union of Students, which, essentially, is a lobby group representing higher education students in Australia. Their website states that they “make real changes to the lives of students by campaigning for an accessible and equitable education and welfare system for all”.
This campaigning can come in many forms such as protests, conferences, inquiries to government or liaising with relevant organisations. Recently, NUS have been busy rallying against fee hikes, cutting income support and just the general assault on high education we’ve been seeing this year alone.
Not every university campus is an affiliated member of NUS. The ones that are, like Curtin’s Student Guild, pay for membership using a portion of the SSAFs. This means candidates can become delegates and represent not just student interests, but Curtin student interests during various conferences.
A national student union is an essential necessity for propping up the voices of students. However, NUS is not without its flaws. Based out of Victoria, there is a very clear saturation of eastern states universities. This leads the organisation to be less representative of ALL Australian students from ACROSS the country. With a presence of a more eastern states agenda, other universities from other states can get left behind in the conversation.
The NUS have also received criticism over misconduct displayed at their annual national conferences. Having been there myself in December of last year, I witnessed firsthand the sheer absence of basic respect for others. Screaming, swearing, heckling, delegates would allow themselves to be overcome with emotion which would normally be deemed socially unacceptable. This is all for show, as a source once told me, motions passed during conference sessions are usually decided beforehand through backdoor meetings. Which begs the question, why the aggressive charade?
As part of an amazing team of student journalists, we wanted to make the conference more transparent through video recordings and photographs. A motion was passed to deny this human right to freedom of press, without any student journalists actually getting a say.
The National Union of Students is a vital organisation in student advocacy. We need people in our guilds to represent and defend our interests, because then who else will. But NUS need to address these systematic issues that have caused people severe anxiety and stress, with just one conference.
Supporting Guild elections will champion the interests of WA and Curtin students.