The Union spends over £4,000 a year on cash incentives to encourage students to participate in forums, it has been revealed.
The Better Union, Better University and Better Leeds forums are held five times a year to facilitate student-led change. Panels are made up of 16 randomly selected students, who are paid £20 each to attend.
Yorkshire-based charity Scurrah Wainwright, which specialises in funding participatory democracy, paid participants when the forums were first established in 2010. However, the Union continued paying students after the charity pulled out of the initiative after two years.
The Union claims that 82% of participants admitted that they wouldn’t have attended a forum unless they were paid, and 52% said they would participate again for free.
Fourth-year Politics student Phil Mann, who was paid £20 to attend a recent Better Union forum stated, ‘I was pretty surprised they paid students to attend these forums. Twenty pounds was obviously a good incentive, but it seems a lot. It’s good that LUU consults students on issues, but I think lots of people will be surprised it happens in this way.’
Rachael Phillips, a second-year English literature student who has attended two forums stated, ‘On the whole, it’s a lot of money but it’s definitely an incentive. I probably wouldn’t have been that bothered if it was unpaid, and it actually made me more aware about how the union works and what it does.’
Photo: Sam Broadley