Joe Goodenough

Student blog

A day in the life of an SU President – attending the NUS National Conference 2022

NUS Conference

Hi, I’m Joe Goodenough, a third year BSc Agriculture student with an interest in mental health and sustainable food systems.

I’m the current Students’ Union President: Representation. In March 2022, I went to the NUS (National Union of Students) National Conference in Liverpool.

About the conference

The conference is a two-day event, hosted by NUS (National Union of Students) with the aim of bringing Student Unions together to discuss student issues. The two main aims are to elect the new committee (every two years) and to decide on the key policies for NUS

Day 1  

The day kicked off with an upbeat welcome from Hillary Gyebi-Ababio (Vice President HE) and Matt Crilly (NUS Scotland President), introducing the conferences, and beginning the celebration of 100 years of the NUS.

This was followed by a speech from the current NUS President, Larissa Kennedy about 100 years of students coming together, and how often students are on the right side of history – from campaigning for free health care 10 years before the start of the NHS, to the lobbying of Barclays Bank during the Apartheid Period.

Christy Ku is a poet, performer, activist and wordsmith and spoke eloquently and radically about her life and about what it’s like being a woman. It was a lovely experience to see how poetry can be used to protest.

The comment that resonated with me was ‘it’s always the end of the world’ – meaning we should all live our own life and do what we want to do, because life is short.

Candidate speeches

The most crucial part of the conference is deciding the new Vice President FE, Vice President HE, and President for NUS for the next two years. Each category had four nominations who all took very different styles to portray their points.

In these elections I only got to vote FE although I represent FE and HE due to the current set up you can only choose one. I went with FE due to the larger amount of FE students at Hartpury, but this is something which needs to be changed for greater representation.

The Winners were later announced Congratulations to Bernie Savage (VP FE), Chloe Field (VP HE) and Shaima Dallali (NUS President)

Workshop 1 – South-West and Wales

The afternoon consisted of a large workshop in which we got to network with other SU officials.  We then split down into smaller groups to discuss topics such as free education, decolonisation of the education system, sexual violence, and the cost of living.

Day 2

Workshop 2 – Fight for Funds

The second day began with all delegates choosing what workshop they would like to attend.

I chose the Fight for Funds section – alternative workshops included international student experience, accessibility for all, housing cooperatives, and gender-based violence.

The Fight for Funds proposed motion covered the inequalities of the apprentice minimum wage of £4.80 per hour, postgraduate funding, mature student support and hardship funds. All delegates decided the proposal was not up to scratch and suggestions made included: FE funding, disabled students support, and to investigate international student fees.

Summaries of the proposal are available on the NUS website.

Workshop 3 – Reimagining Education

We started off by breaking down the issues with education highlighting capitalist, archaic, and selfish mindsets universities often foster.

After discussing these issues, we began to discuss how we envision education to be rebuilt, reimagining from the ground up. Ideas included: student-decided assessments, free education for all, life skills and being embedded into society, creating an asset to society.

The day was finished off with a closing speech by Larissa Kennedy (NUS President), aimed to empower students to go back and put what we earnt into practice.

A word from Sophie, our Rep Coordinator (supporting staff)

“This was my first time at the NUS National Conference, and it was fantastic. It was great to see so many likeminded students coming together to discuss such important matters. 

“My role at this event was to support Joe, which involved everything from organising transport to buying shaving foam! I was also able to meet other SU staff members to discuss ideas and plans going forward - picking up some great tips to implement back at Hartpury. 

“I’d like to say a HUGE congratulations to all who stood for the presidency roles - that takes some courage and there was serious competition!

“All in all, a great experience and I hope to attend again next year.”

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