It has been revealed that the National Union of Students (NUS) is facing financial difficulties. The organisation, which represents the majority of UK students in further and higher education, has been warning students’ unions about forthcoming spending cuts.
The NUS president, Shakira Martin, along with Acting Chief Executive, Peter Robertson, sent a letter to its affiliated unions stating that it was unable to finance a £3m deficit this year.
The NUS has said that it may have to mortgage its headquarters, cut staff, and restrict current projects if it wants to avoid bankruptcy.
According to The Guardian, a spokesperson from the NUS confirmed that the NUS is currently “taking measures to address a number of governance-related challenges” at a summit later this month.
In the letter, which was initially leaked on the Guido Fawkes website, stated: “It’s important that we respond to this competition collectively and collaboratively as a movement, if we are to continue to protect the interests of students and students’ unions.”
“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.”, the letter adds.
In 2005 the NUS was already facing a £700,000 deficit. According to the current president and Acting Chief Executive, an underlying cause of these financial issues is the increasing competition from other companies that offer student discount packages.
The fact that the leaders of the NUS have cited business interests ahead of their concerns for students has sparked controversy amongst members, university officials and journalists.
Martin has invited all NUS members to take part in this ‘strategic conversation’ to propose their views on the future of the NUS. The NUS president is also establishing a Turnaround Board to help plan for post-2019 NUS developments, as she is due to step down next year.
According to iNews, the financial problems are a result of bad investment decisions over the last six years, through which the organisation has lost approximately £6m. The NUS also has pension liabilities of £12m.
This article originally appeared in our December 10 print edition on page 5.