A leaked letter has revealed that the NUS (National Union of Students) is set to post a financial deficit of £3 million this year.
The letter, sent to all affiliated Students’ Unions by NUS President Shakira Martin and Acting Chief Executive Peter Robertson, has revealed the full extent of the NUS Group’s financial difficulties.
— charlie (@Charliephobia) November 2, 2018
Martin and Robertson revealed that the NUS Group was predicted to be in a financial deficit of £3 million this year, an amount which their financial reserves weren’t sufficient enough to cover.
The pair told members: “We are taking urgent action to stabilise our position.
“We have taken immediate advice on the options available to us to ensure we remain solvent. It looks likely this will include a combination of borrowing against the building we own, making cuts to staff, and turning off some of the activity we deliver.”
The NUS is an organisation made up of over 600 UK student unions, including Leeds University Union. Through these unions, it represents over 7 million students in UK higher and further education.
Martin and Robertson detailed the NUS Group’s three main priorities going forward: getting to a place of safety and financial viability, reforming the NUS’ corporate structures to drastically simplify and modernise it, and having a strategy to rebuild the group, following its admission of financial insecurity.
I’m really saddened to hear of the challenges faced by the organisation that I love, and tonight I’m thinking of the incredible people working as hard as they can to protect the interests of NUS, their member unions and students more broadly. What a horrible day.
— Vonnie Sandlan (@VonnSand) November 2, 2018
In a statement following the damaging revelations, the NUS confirmed its goal of delivering fundamental corporate, democratic and financial reform by Summer 2019.
“It’s important that we respond to this competition collectively and collaboratively as a movement.”
Explaining the circumstances which led to the NUS’ financial difficulties, the letter said the following: “Alongside structural problems we are facing competitors in student discounts, trading support and policy and strategic support. We have faced challenges to all three of these income streams but rarely to all three at the same time. It’s important that we respond to this competition collectively and collaboratively as a movement, if we are to continue to protect the interests of students and students’ unions.”
The group urged members to help tackle these issues: “The causes of our problems are bigger than we can tackle alone. We need students’ unions to engage in reshaping our governance to address the root causes of our issues.”
The letter spoke of the NUS Group’s aims to help students influence education, the places they live, and society in general, by acting as a voice for them.
Speaking on behalf of the NUS Group, the letter said: “The reason we get up every single day is the profound belief that students’ unions are an innate good.
“Where inequality in education exists we have campaigned against it, where barriers stop students getting in and getting on we have pulled them down, and when students have felt like dropping out our movement has picked them up.”
I don't like much about the NUS but I will have a solid mute policy for anyone making or retweeting "hahaha lefties always go bankrupt with other people's money" jokes
— Ruth (@bouledenerfs_) November 2, 2018
Chris Morris, LUU’s Union Affairs Officer, gave the following statement:
“Leeds students should be assured that the financial state of NUS has no bearing on LUU’s current activities or performance. We understand that it may be worrying to hear the news, however LUU are actively working with NUS to help improve their situation through membership of their Turnaround Board which is looking at solutions.
“As a Union, we are not concerned that the current situation gives any greater risk to LUU, but we will continue to follow progress as it develops.
“By working with students’ unions and the wider NUS community, we hope to see an improvement in the situation to ensure NUS can continue working to improve the lives of students and young people.”
This February 10th will mark 97 years since the National Union of Students was formed. With their 100th anniversary on the horizon, the NUS believes their historical mission is more important than ever, and has vowed to push forward with urgency, bravery and compassion.
Megan Cummings, News Editor
Image: [The Guardian]