AUSA Executive Committee ConferenceEvent Report by set6tyhsd


									AUSA Executive Committee Conference/Event Report
                  NUS Annual Conference 2009

Name & Exec Position:
 Joy Elliott, Vice President Education and Employability
Reason for attending:
 This is the representative body for NUS. I was elected as one of the 9 voting delegates by AUSA Council.

Did anyone else attend this conference/event: If so who?:
 Yes – Duncan Mckay, Nick Edwards, Sandy McKinnon, Johnny Keating, Amanda Friend, Jill Bennett, Lorna
 Copeland, Petra Procter, Christina Allnutt, Kristian Chapman and Anna Mathers.

Please give an overview of the content of the conference/event attended
                                  NUS Annual Conference 2009

 NUS Annual Conference was held over 3 days in the Winter Gardens
 Blackpool. During that time there were several “fringe” events, also
 organized by NUS. I attended all of conference and two fringe events – A
 meeting between International Students and the UK Border Agency to
 discuss the new Tier 4 Immigration system and a meeting between NUS
 and the National Postgraduate Committee to discuss a merger.

 The main conference was focused around a report from each of the
 sections of NUS UK, questions for the elected officers running the
 sections, and motions submitted by unions organized by section. Each
 section was allotted a certain period of time, as were elections and
 presentations. Conference ran approximately 2 hours behind time for most
 of the event. This resulted in a significant number of motions not being
 I spoke on one of the motions regarding postgraduate issues: (See below)
 Motion: 604
 Heading: Postgraduate Study
 Submitted by: Kent Union, Liverpool Guild, University of Bristol
 Speech For: Liverpool Guild (2 mins)
 Speech Against: Free (2 mins)
 Summation: University of Bristol (1 min)
 Conference Believes:
 1. That the postgraduate student experience is too often ignored by NUS.
 2. That according to research published by NUS, only 27% of final year undergraduates intend to
 proceed to further study.
 3. That the home student postgraduate population is shrinking and institutions are becoming more
 heavily dependent on international students to fill places. Conference Further Believes:
 1. That opportunities for PG students to seek funding for arts and humanities subjects are scarce
 and forcing students into either greater debt or out of studying altogether.
 2. That PhD students regularly take longer than the expected 3 years to complete, causing greater
 financial uncertainty and in many cases visa complications for international students.
 3. That PG's are regularly relied upon for undergraduate teaching; while this is not necessarily bad,
 in too many cases PG's do not receive the training and remuneration they deserve and an over-
 reliance on PG teaching causes difficulties for undergraduates.
 4. The postgraduate admissions system is too complex and is in need of professionalisation.
 Conference Resolves:
 1. To call for a full review of postgraduate fees, funding and student support by government.
 2. To call on HEI's to more transparently advertise the expected length of their PhD's.
 3. To press for a review of postgraduate admissions and for institutions to sign up to UKPASS, the
 PG admissions service provided by UCAS.
 4. To research the experience of PG's who teach and to publicise the 'Postgraduates that Teach'
 charter published by NUS, UCU and NPC.
 Motion 604: Postgraduate Study
 Speech for: Liz Williams, Liverpool Guild
 Speech against: none
Procedural motion 405i: parts to
delete “conference further believes 4”
and “conference resolves 3”.
Speech for: Daniel Carr, University of York
Speech against: Aaron Porter, NEC
Vote: defeated (parts become policy of NUS).

Procedural motion 405i: parts to delete
“conference resolves 2”
Speech for: Christina Yan Zhang,
Loughborough University
Speech against: Joy Elliott, Aberdeen
Vote: defeated (parts become policy of NUS).
Summation: Tobin Webb, University of Bristol
Vote: passed.

See also the creation of the postgraduate committee and positions for 1
Postgraduate taught and one Postgraduate Research Student for the
National Council to be found in the minutes. It was stated that these would
be elected at a National Postgraduate Confenence. I would encourage
anyone wanting to attend this conference please let me know.

Elections were held for several committees. The
Winners of these can be seen in the minutes of the meeting also posted
here on the website.

UK Borders Agency Fringe Event
At the UK Borders Agency event we heard a short presentation on the
introduction of the Tier based immigration system and it’s impact on
international students. We were also given the opportunity to ask the
representatives of the agency questions. This section was limited and only
a few people got to ask questions. Below is a synopsis:
The UK currently has over 80 ways to immigrate or study in the UK. This
system was deemed cumbersome and difficult to manage. They have now
introduced a similar system to Australia and New Zealand, creating only 6
ways to enter the UK, all of which are “sponsored” options. The system
will be based on points, which each person intending to enter the UK will
have to achieve. These points will be in direct relation to the regulations
assigned to that Tier. If a person achieves these points they can enter.
This is a significant improvement over the last system for entry in that it
removes the element of discretion that UKBA individual agents in individual
countries had in decided who got a VISA and who didn’t. Now, the
guidelines are more clear. It has however, introduced several mechanisms
that will cause difficulty for international students and most certainly reduce
the number of those applying. The mechanisms include the requirement
for students to select only 1 institution before entering the UK, higher VISA
costs, and the introduction of a biometric card for international students.

National Postgraduate Committee Fringe Event
Affiliates to the National Postgraduate Committee (NPC) and postgraduate
students met with National executive members from both NPC and NUS.
A discussion was held about the future of NPC and the plans NUS has
made to represent postgraduate students better.
I spoke about the unique situation of NPC Scotland as the secretary of
NPC Scotland. NPC felt that while they had not had a vote, a general
consensus was reached at previous meetings to proceed further with a
merger with NUS. NUS stated that they have now passed policy so even if
NPC voted and decided not to merge, they would still go ahead with the
enhanced postgraduate representation. NUS also pledged £60,000 to
Support the postgraduate campaign. The meeting ended with no decisions being
made. Several postgraduates then went out for a social/networking session after
which was very productive. I was able to make contacts that have since fed into
the Scottish Postgraduate Committee.

 Please outline using the bullet points below up to 5 outcomes from this
        More information on the Tier 4 immigration system from UKBA
        Giving policy direction on representation for postgraduates
        Clear campaign direction for a NUS campaign to make sure students get ALL the information and that
         it is true and accurate when they are deciding which university or college to attend
        There will now be a campaign to ensure that students who work are not getting less of a wage than
         others doing the same job
        A new NUS campaign to ensure that students with disabilities don’t lose funding when they start
         university or college

Was there anything that came out of this conference that you felt AUSA
should consider implementing? If so, what, by when and who should
lead on it?

        AUSA should aim to get more students to attend the new
         conferences that will be set up for each policy zone.
        AUSA should try to write policy or at least amendments to policy for
         NUS Annual Conference
        AUSA should look carefully at how other institutions elect their
         representatives to NUS Annual Conference to ensure the group is
         representative, committed and will make an impact at conference.

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