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    Hi,

    Thanks for taking the time to read and hopefully answer some of our questions.

    Firstly I'd like to register my support for the universities plans, as this is a student view that's often white-washed over, and it is upon this point that I wish to raise a question:

    Do you find it difficult working with the NUS, due to their woeful lack of democratic accountability? Their short-comings are hardly secret; Most students are disengaged politicially and voter turn out for University student union positions are very low - and yet these elected persons are the ones who, in turn, elect the NUS president and his or her VPs. Similarly, the universities own first-past-the-post system means that there is no minority representation whatsoever - there is not a single (economically) right wing student union in the country, despite a not-insignificant Conservative and other right wing presence at many universities.

    These issues all combine to seriously call into question the legitimacy and mandate of the NUS - but, as the only reasonable sized student body, you're stuck for options when you wish to cordially engage with student representatives. Does this affect your dealings with them and Universities in general, and do you see any way to improve this situation in the future?

    Thanks,

    Dan
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    I'd like to second CyclopsRocks question, and would ask the Minister if he would consider taking everything the NUS says is students views with a large pinch of salt? The NUS does not represent my views, or many other students and invests large amounts of money in running campaigns preventing Student Unions from disaffiliating. It is well known as an organisation that speaks on behalf of the Labour Party, most interestingly recently changing its stance on tuition fees to graduate tax at the same point Labour began to consider it.
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    There are many different views among students just as with the rest of the population. I personally do keep in touch with Aaron Porter as the head of the NUS - even though he is a member of the Labour Party! It is important to listen to the whole range of students. Opportunities like this do enable me to be in contact with students directly too.
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    (Original post by CyclopsRock)
    Most students are disengaged politicially and voter turn out for University student union positions are very low - and yet these elected persons are the ones who, in turn, elect the NUS president and his or her VPs. Similarly, the universities own first-past-the-post system means that there is no minority representation whatsoever
    Firstly, I think this whole issue has actually shown that students are engaged in politics. In addition to the fact students were turned away from a polling station in Sheffield in may.

    Secondly, speak for you own uni. The system Bath SU has in place for SU positions is essentially an Alternative Vote system, similar to what is being proposed for the UK general elections.
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    I have not been in university long enough to tell, but my brother is in his fourth year and all he has to say about the NUS is a long, long list of stupid things it has done.
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    Thank you for your reply, Mr Willets.

    (Original post by WelshBluebird)
    Firstly, I think this whole issue has actually shown that students are engaged in politics. In addition to the fact students were turned away from a polling station in Sheffield in may.
    I think the fact it took them potentially being out of pocket to get protesting says something about their level of engagement. Piss heads complaining when alcohol duty goes up doesn't mean they're politically engaged, it means they like alcohol and they like it when its cheaper. The only time you hear from students are when their future lives are about to get slightly less prosperous - that's not political engagement. (And the fact they seem to be so much more vociferous with this government vs Labour introducing tuition fees in the first place and then lying about implementing top up fees makes me think there is more than a little bit of political string pulling going on in the background)

    Secondly, speak for you own uni. The system Bath SU has in place for SU positions is essentially an Alternative Vote system, similar to what is being proposed for the UK general elections.
    So no one runs for specific positions? That seems a bit... weird but commendable. But eitherway, as long as your university's voting system is in the minority, the presidential position is woefully without a mandate. Why not just throw it out to a full on election of the membership? Because its a cushy little nepotistic path to being a Labour MP, and thus people voting would get in the way.
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    (Original post by CyclopsRock)
    So no one runs for specific positions? That seems a bit... weird but commendable. But eitherway, as long as your university's voting system is in the minority, the presidential position is woefully without a mandate. Why not just throw it out to a full on election of the membership? Because its a cushy little nepotistic path to being a Labour MP, and thus people voting would get in the way.
    No they do run for specific positions, but the positions are decided with an AV system. So for example, five people run for the SU presidency. Each person who votes lists their votes in order of preference. When the vote is counted, if one candidate does not have a majority then the one with the lowest number of votes is removed, and the votes for that person redistributed to the various second choices. Carries on until someone has a majority. Same happens for all the SU positions.
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    (Original post by WelshBluebird)
    No they do run for specific positions, but the positions are decided with an AV system. So for example, five people run for the SU presidency. Each person who votes lists their votes in order of preference. When the vote is counted, if one candidate does not have a majority then the one with the lowest number of votes is removed, and the votes for that person redistributed to the various second choices. Carries on until someone has a majority. Same happens for all the SU positions.
    Ah, sorry, I misread - that's far from PR and still makes the chances of minority views being heard extremely unlikely.
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    (Original post by CyclopsRock)
    Ah, sorry, I misread - that's far from PR and still makes the chances of minority views being heard extremely unlikely.
    I never said it was PR. It's Alternative Vote, and is what the coalition are going to give the country a referendum on next year.
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    (Original post by CyclopsRock)

    I think the fact it took them potentially being out of pocket to get protesting says something about their level of engagement. Piss heads complaining when alcohol duty goes up doesn't mean they're politically engaged, it means they like alcohol and they like it when its cheaper. The only time you hear from students are when their future lives are about to get slightly less prosperous - that's not political engagement. (And the fact they seem to be so much more vociferous with this government vs Labour introducing tuition fees in the first place and then lying about implementing top up fees makes me think there is more than a little bit of political string pulling going on in the background)
    In fairness, my brother protested (peacefully, and left when it got too violent) and these changes will not affect him, or any of his friends/relatives
    So some (admittedly not all) do protest and get involved to help others rather than themselves
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    (Original post by WelshBluebird)
    I never said it was PR. It's Alternative Vote, and is what the coalition are going to give the country a referendum on next year.
    Indeed it's not PR, that's the bit I misread. That is also what the coalition are going to give the people a referendum on. That doesn't, however, change my point that in the NUS, there's no right wing representation at all. It's simply a vehical for future Labour politicians to get their work experience.
 
 
 
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