Image Credit: willowbarbican

Controversy as the National Union of Students faces bankruptcy

Image Credit: willowbarbican

Shakira Martin, the President of the National Union of Students, has revealed that the group, which is affiliated with 600 student unions and associations across the UK, is facing severe financial difficulties. 

A letter, originally revealed on the Guido Fawkes website, was sent from the NUS President and NUS Acting Chief Executive Peter Robertson to all affiliate Student Unions, setting out the financial difficulties that were being faced. 

In this letter, Martin and Robertson claim that the organisation is “projected to post a significant deficit this year without enough resource to cover the loss”, and this has come about following issues with three of their income streams, where they are “facing competitors in student discounts, trading support and policy and strategic support.”

Martin and Robertson estimate that they are “looking at a £3m deficit for the group in this and future financial years”. 

To overcome these financial adversities, Martin and Robertson argue: “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.”

This set of reforms have been distinguished into three streams of work: “Get to safety”, “Reform” and “Rebuilding”.  “Get to safety” refers to immediate measures to save money, generate cash and make the organisation financially viable in six months, while “Reform”, will involve changing corporate and democratic structures to simplify and modernise the NUS. Finally, “Rebuilding”, will involve drawing up a clear strategy to establish a new management culture. 

An NUS spokesman told The Guardian, that it was “taking measures to address a number of governance-related challenges” at a summit later this month.

An official statement to The Guardian by the NUS has confirmed that “The boards, officers and executive team are agreed that we need to deliver fundamental corporate, democratic and financial reform by summer 2019.”

“This means there will be a range of proposals brought to a strategic conversation meeting in November 2018 for consideration and refinement with the help of our members, and subsequently to national conference 2019 to be voted on by our members.”

When asked for a statement, the President of the University of Oxford’s Students’ Union, Joe Inwood, told The Oxford Student, “We are concerned to hear the news of financial difficult at NUS.”

“Oxford SU will positively engage with the change process, and we will be sending staff members as delegates to the Strategic Conversation taking place in Bristol later in the month. We will keep students informed throughout.”