Our NUS Delegates attended the recent NUS Conference which is an annual event organised by the National Union of Students.
What is the NUS Conference?
The NUS Conference is an annual conference organised by the National Union of Students. Hundreds of elected students from all over the UK meet to agree on the priorities for NUS for the upcoming academic year and elect the full-time officers for the next two years. This year, the conference took place on 28 and 29 March.
What does this have to do with Queen Mary Students’ Union?
Queen Mary had seven delegates that attended the conference: Adi Sawalha (President), Tahmid Khan (School of Engineering and Materials Sciences), Saynab Sharif (VP Humanities & Social Sciences), Inayah Oosman (School of Geography), Sofie Homb (School of Politics and International Relations), Khalid Al-Tamimy (School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science) and Muneer Hussain (VP Welfare).
Our NUS Delegates were elected in the Autumn Elections, and their role is to represent the voice of all Queen Mary students at the NUS Conference.
What did our delegates get up to at the conference?
Good question! All the delegates take part in policy debates, vote in the elections and network with the other delegates to share best practice. We asked the delegates to tell us more about the things they did at the conference, and here are some examples:
- Tahmid Khan submitted a policy on behalf of Queen Mary Students’ Union calling for more inclusive timetabling and presented the policy to other delegates from across the UK.
- Saynab Sharif took part in policy discussions about the international student experience and the creation of a student movement against marketisation of education.
- Muneer Hussain networked with delegates over the country, which made him think about our own problems at QM and how we can tackle them.
- Khalid Al-Tamimy voted in the elections for the next NUS President and other full-time officer roles. Shaima Dallali (currently elected as one of the full-time officers at City University) was elected as the next President.
What kinds of issues were discussed at the conference?
Ahead of the conference, conference delegates were able to submit policy ideas and vote on the top issues to be discussed at the conference. Some of the issues that were debated were:
- A theme of the conference was building a community for change and transforming education, as students we share similar experiences of fees, the need for accessibility, and the need for a change in higher education.
- Improvements to timetabling policies – this issue was raised by the delegates from Queen Mary and our main aim was to tackle timetabling issues to help build a fairer university experience.
- Improving financial support for apprentices. As one delegate put it: “It was ridiculous to hear that Apprentices could only be paid £4.82 per hour with no access to a maintenance loan. How are they meant to pay for basic necessities such as travel/food?!”
What were the highlights from the conference?
We asked the delegates about their experience of the conference, and they had lots of positive things to say. Sofie described the conference as: “Engaging, interactive and vibrant.”
Other highlights included:
- Muneer Hussain: It was amazing to see the enthusiasm of other delegates and NUS regarding their passion for making change. The whole conference was about making radical change and bringing up the conversations that others were afraid to speak about.
- Saynab Sharif: The chance to meet delegates and understand their experiences at universities.
- Khalid Al-Tamimy: My highlight from the conference was the respect between the candidates running. Despite some of their similar manifesto ideas, there were also differences. Nonetheless, this never led to any disrespect from either side and was a great indicator of professionalism and empathy.
- Tahmid Khan: The definite highlight for me has been to see a policy that we at QMSU had drafted being shortlisted and discussed at the conference.
Can I go to the conference next year?
Yes, if you get elected as one of our NUS Delegates for 2023. Elections will take place in the Autumn Elections in September and October. The elections will be announced on qmsu.org and in our newsletters, so keep an eye out for further information.