University of Portsmouth students vote to leave the National Union of Students

THE UNIVERSITY of Portsmouth’s union has severed ties with the National Union of Students.

Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 7:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 7:16 pm
University of Portsmouth student union building.
University of Portsmouth student union building.

The university’s students’ union has taken the decision after holding a referendum with its members.

A statement released from the union said: ‘There were 1,439 votes within this referendum with 615 students voting for the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union (UPSU) to remain affiliated with the National Union of Students (NUS) and 669 voting to leave. There were 155 students selected “don’t know” on the ballot sheet. Therefore the result of this referendum is that the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union will disaffiliate from the NUS.’

A number of factors were cited as to why UPSU should leave the NUS, with the union’s current financial plight and a diminishing lack of membership benefits at the forefront of the campaign.

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The ‘leave’ campaign statement said: ‘Whilst the union is forced to cut its minibuses for societies, we throw away £50,000 to an organisation that is operating a £3m debt and a further £12m in pensions liabilities. This has led to mass redundancies with NUS cutting around half its staff.’

‘Leave’ campaigners believed that under such circumstances, UPSU should have greater financial autonomy.

The statement added added: ‘The NUS clearly has no idea how to manage money and, more worryingly, how to support students’ unions. This money can be better spent back in Portsmouth supporting activities and projects that our students love.

‘Why pay £32 for a union discount card when you can use services like Student Beans and UNiDAYS for absolutely free whilst still retaining a good number of discounts. Staying in the NUS purely for its discount card no longer makes any logical sense.’

Leave campaigners also championed the subsequent success of the 14 other university unions, including Southampton and Plymouth, which have chosen to leave the NUS.

The NUS has responded with disappointment to the decision.

A spokesperson said: ‘It’s always a source of great sadness to a see a students’ union leave the NUS family. The vote was close, but clearly we need to do more to ensure students at Portsmouth see the relevance of NUS, both for today and for students of tomorrow.

‘We’re working hard to shape NUS’ future, to ensure that together we can build the kind of responsive and effective organisation that’s fit to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. The door will always be open, and we look forward to a day when we can welcome the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union back into the fold.’