Ulster University students have voted to remain members of the National Union of Students-Union of Students in Ireland (NUS-USI), with 90.2% of voters choosing to retain their SU’s membership of the overarching Students’ Union for Northern Ireland.
The result was announced on their website last night following a week of campaigning across the college’s four campus’ by Ulster University Students’ Union (UUSU) President Kevin McStravock, NUS-USI representatives and students in favour of affiliation, as well as a No campaign, Say Goodbye to NUS-USI. Polling took place online from Tuesday until noon yesterday.
Turnout for the referendum was typically low with only 561 votes cast, representing around 2% of the student body in a college of approximately 26,000 full and part-time students. At least 1% of the college’s student body must turn out for the referendum outcome to be valid.
UUSU voted in favour of holding the referendum at a Council meeting in late October. McStravock, President of UUSU, was the lead Yes campaigner, going on annual leave in order to participate in campaigning, as UUSU’s constitution stipulates. At a referendum hustings held on Monday, McStravock emphasised the work the NUS-USI has done nationally, as well as the specific benefits of membership Ulster University students enjoy.
McStravock also argued that disaffiliation would leave the university “isolated from the student movement at a time where Brexit looms and the UK government threatens to change higher education funding”.
Meanwhile, Say Goodbye to NUS-USI focused on the €52,000 paid by UUSU to NUS-USI annually, arguing that the money could be better spent on other endeavours. Following disaffiliation, they promised to ensure “the SU focuses on ITS’ OWN students”.
Ulster University students last took to the polls on retaining membership of the Union three years ago, when the result was 88% in favour of remaining a member of the body.