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NUS Scotland Review of the Year: 2018

(Some of) the Scottish Executive Committee for 2018/19

2018 has been an incredible year here at NUS Scotland. We've had fantastic campaigning successes, hosted an array of exciting events and added some great people to our team. As 2019 fast approaches, we take a look back at the achievements of the student movement in Scotland over the last year.

Gemma Jones, NUS Scotland Deputy President, Shuwanna Aaron, Women's Officer, and Liam McCabe, NUS Scotland President for 2018/19

NUS 100: Manifesto for a Just and Sustainable Future, is our strategy until 2022 when NUS will be 100 years old! This focuses our work on shaping education and empowering individuals, and being an outstanding student-led campaigning and membership organisation. Here’s our progress towards achieving this in 2018:

Everyone can access – and excel in – education

Delegates to #NUSSCOT18 showing their support for #BudgetforBetter

Through our Budget for Better campaign and lobbying the Scottish Government we secured over £21 million a year investment in the student support system. Among other improvements, this will lead to an increase in bursaries for the poorest students. The Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science at the time of the announcement, said it represented “the first step towards realising the ambition of delivering the equivalent of the real Living Wage to students.”

We successfully lobbied for an end to college 100% attendance policies, which led to students being plunged into financial hardship for missing class - for anything from medical appointments to their bus not turning up. The Scottish Funding Council issued upated guidance to colleges, emphasising that colleges must prioritise pastoral care before cutting students’ bursaries.

NUS Scotland President for 2017/18 with the former Minister for Higher Education, Further Education and Science Shirley Ann Somerville

NUS Scotland Disabled Students’ Campaign created the ‘Disability not Invisibility,’ campaign poster highlighting how many disabled people have invisible disabilities, displayed on campuses nationally.

The Scottish Parliament

We gave evidence on Erasmus+ to the European and External Relations Committee at the Scottish Parliament.

Wellbeing and welfare are central to the student experience

Alongside calling for improvements to financial support for students, our #BudgetforBetter campaign also put forward the need for ring-fenced funding to improve student mental health support. Following the success of our campaign, in September the Scottish Government announced £20 million of funding to recruit 80 new counsellors for Scotland's colleges and universities as part of their Programme for Government.

We're continuing to work closely with the government to monitor how this investment is implemented, and to ensure that new support is appropriate and meets the needs of students.

NUS Scotland President 2017/18 Luke Humberstone at the announcement of government support for Think Positive

Over £270,000 was secured for Think Positive to support colleges, universities and students’ associations to improve student mental health through our Student Mental Health Agreement project and partnership with Scottish Student Sport and ASH Scotland to deliver the Healthy Body Healthy Mind Awards. Both projects saw a record number of institutions taking part this year.

Participants listening at the Think Positive launch event in September

The Scottish Government also agreed to include the need for mental health support for students in their letter of guidance to the Scottish Funding Council for the first time, ensuring a real commitment from the sector to improve student mental health.

The Charter of Student Rights on Mental Health

We developed a Charter of Student Rights on Mental Health to provide a model of a positive mental health model for institutions assist students’ associations in starting a conversation about improving support. This has since been used as part of our mental health campaigns workshops.

NUS Scotland Women's Officer Shuwanna Aaron handing in the #EmilyTest petition to the Minister

We supported the #EmilyTest campaign, submitting a petition with over 12,000 signatures to the Scottish Government, which secured investment to support colleges and universities to tackle gender-based violence on campus. This saw the publication of the Equally Safe in Higher Education toolkit, which is now being adapted for use by colleges. The implementation of these toolkits is supported by £400,000 of funding from the Scottish Government.

Our Women's Officer Shuwanna Aaron at the launch of the Gender Based Violence support cards

Following an NUS Scotland pilot project last year, we worked in partnership with the Scottish Government, Universities Scotland, Colleges Scotland, Trade Unions and Women’s Organisations to develop a new resource: support cards which provide information about national and campus based services which support survivors or those at risk of gender based violence. These have now been distributed to every college and university in Scotland.

NUS Scotland Black Students' Officer Titi Farukuoye speaking to the Fight for the Night at the University of Strathclyde

For the 16 Days of Action Against Gender Based Violence this year we released a toolkit to help students' associations organise their own actions. Many members responded to this, holding events including demonstrations, workshops and donation drives to local women's shelters.

Students have the confidence to engage in civic life

NUS Scotland Zone Conference 2018

We’ve organised events including The Gathering, Zone Conference, the Student Funding Summit and the Women of Colour Brunch, allowing students to network, learn more about key issues affecting students and get involved in shaping our work.

NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe speaking to the EIS Value Education Value Teachers demonstration in October

We've been active in organising support for education workers' trade unions. In February and March, we organised for higher education students to show solidarity with their staff on strike to protect pensions. We made sure that students attended the strike rallies, which were addressed by Shuwanna in Glasgow and Jodie in Edinburgh. Then in October we supported the EIS Value Education, Value Teachers demonstration calling for a pay rise for Scotland's teachers, and Liam was a speaker on the rally.

NUS Scotland Vice President (Communities) Elena Semple taking part in a Living Rent protest in Perth

We've also actively supported students to get organised as workers and tenants. We called on our members to affiliate and work with both Unite Hospitality and Living Rent.

Supporting excellence in students’ unions

Our College Development project has been busy training and developing officers and staff at our member students' associations. In July we held College Lead and Change, which saw 95% of college officers in Scotland trained in the skills they need to make a difference at their students' association. We also conducted board member training for both student and lay members, and carried out in-house training at three different institutions.

College board member training for student members in October

In November we established the Deputy Returning Officers Community of Practice, which will be meeting on a regular basis to allow those involved with students' association elections to share experience and support each other. Our staff team also acted as Returning Officers for elections at 19 different students' associations throughout the year.

Developing a strong and influential collective voice

Our team celebrating our being shortlisted for Campaigners of the Year at the Herald Society Awards

As part of our #BudgetforBetter campaign, we held stalls at 23 campuses across Scotland, sending 18,000 emails to MSPs. We also supported students’ associations to lobby their MSPs online and face to face. All student presidents in Scotland also signed a joint letter to the Minister for Higher Education, Further Education and Science calling for investment in better student support. The success of this campaign led to us being shortlisted for Campaigners of the Year at The Herald Society Awards.

Our President Liam McCabe was elected promising to equip our members with the skills they need to be able to campaign and make change on the issues that matter most to their students. This led to our Stepping Up, Making Change project, offering in-depth workshops in campaigning and activism skills to our member students' associations. So far we have held two regional workshops focusing on mental health campaigns, but will also be delivering bespoke sessions to SAs on issues that they are tackling locally.

Participants at the Stepping Up, Making Change: Rural Mental Health Campaigns workshop in November

Following the election of a new NUS Scotland President, and the appointment of a new Minister for Higher Education, Further Education and Science, we took part in a visit to Strathclyde University and City of Glasgow College with the new Minister, Richard Lochhead. Building on the the success of this event, it was agreed that we would work together on organising a President's Roundtable, which will invite every students' association President in Scotland to a summit with government ministers on 29 January 2019 in the Scottish Parliament. Save the date!

Minister for Higher Education, Further Education and Science Richard Lochhead meeting with our President Liam McCabe and students at City of Glasgow College

We launched our Trans Students' Campaign, with a founding conference in April which elected Ethan Wilson as the inaugural Trans Students' Officer. The campaign has chosen to focus on improving Trans healthcare as their top priority, and has held a series of focus groups to gather the experiences of Trans students using the health system.

Ethan Wilson, the inaugural NUS Scotland Trans Students' Officer

Credits:

Created with images by Walkerssk - "the scottish parliament edinburgh scotland"

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