Fringe Sessions

During Conference there are a number of fringe events for delegates, observers and visitors to attend.

Fringes are a unique chance for delegates to learn about different organisations and campaigns and how to get involved.

Fringe sessions at National Conference 2017 are as follows:


Tuesday 25 April, 6pm - 7pm

Making the case for mental health services

Across colleges and universities, mental health services are just not up to scratch. Long waiting lists, session caps and no out-of-hours. Meanwhile, more students are experiencing mental health concerns.

Institutions are going hard on the 'Wellbeing Agenda', but what does this mean - and is it good news?

Our panel will discuss the issues facing the sector, and facilitate a discussion with delegates on the necessary action that NUS and Students' Unions should take.

Host: NUS Disabled Students, Mental Wellbeing in HE working group, British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists and Arts Students' Union

Room: Meeting room 1A

Muslim Women in the West

Following recent political events we have seen a rise in Islamophobic attacks against Muslim Women in particular. This event aims to explore the challenges that Muslim women face in society today. We hope to explore a range of issues from why the situation is like it is today and how we can actively work together to tackle this.


Room: Meeting room 1B

Friends of NUS Reception

A reception for Friends (alumni) of NUS, to give them a chance to meet up, hear about NUS's activities and reminisce about Conferences past.

Host: NUS

Room: Meeting room 1C

Friendship, Faith, and Feminism

Prejudice, patriarchy, and propaganda are rising across the world. As common yet distinct victims, we might expect a united response from Muslim and Jewish communities. Sadly though, the gulf between Jews and Muslims has grown, with misconceptions leading too deep suspicions that has at times perpetuated discrimination and hatred towards the other within Jewish and Muslim communities. Julie Siddiqi and Laura Marks are navigating intersecting identities and working hard to bridge that divide.
Join UJS and these impressive and inspirational guest speakers as we explore the ongoing fight for all minorities – and indeed all people – to express their religious, cultural, gender, ethnic and national identities, without fear of hate or prejudice. Come and discuss what our student movement can learn from two women leading the debate on friendship, faith and feminism.

Host: UJS

Room: Syndicate 1

#FEunplugged: Are the lights coming back on?

Since we started the #FEunplugged campaign, we've spoken to reps from 120 colleges, launched a manifesto for change in FE based on what you want and started to put FE and technical education back on the map nationally.

With area reviews over, mergers happening, the announcement of technical education reforms in Wales and England, a funding squeeze in Scotland and new parliament in Northern Ireland, what is next for FE and how can we build #FEunplugged to keep people switched on to Further Education across the UK?

Host: Department for Education, Association of Colleges, Shakira Martin - Vice President (Further Education), NUS and FE Zone Committee

Room: Syndicate 2

What's next after the Institutional Racism Review?: Moving forward towards racial justice within our institutions and our movement

NUS' Institutional Racism Review found that the organisation was responsible for "serious failings with regards to race" and had long failed Black staff, officers and volunteers.

Yet institutionalised racism is embedded within all levels of the student movement, from our institutions to our SUs - and the principles of racial justice spoken of so highly within our movement often fail to translate into action.

In this fringe, we will discuss the work being undertaken by NUS in light of the IRR, and discuss how we can collectively move forward towards enacting the principles of racial justice within our movement.

Host: NUS Black Students' Campaign, NUS National President

Room: Syndicate 3

There’s Power in a Union? Marketisation and Student Representation

From having to fight for months to even win guaranteed student representation on the new Office for Students board, to National Student Survey feedback used in the Teaching Excellence Framework to raise fees and ineptly rank institutions - now students are given a voice only as ‘ savvy shoppers’ with universities attempting to offer ‘the best deal’ on their degrees.

How has increasing marketisation affected students' unions and their ability to represent students? Can we really work in partnership with universities in the current education system, or ever?
This session will explore such tensions, ultimately asking - how do we, as a movement, develop student voice and representation to build student power in response to the HE Bill?

Host: Sorana Vieru - Vice President (Higher Education)

Room: Syndicate 4

Welcome Reception for the Nations

Come along to the traditional first night reception for delegates from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to welcome you to National Conference 2017.

Host: Nations Presidents

Room: Auditorium 2

Liber8 Education – What’s happening to education post-Brexit?

Rising racism and toxic attacks on migrants are radically changing the context and culture of education. International students and staff are feeling the brunt of this. Government proposals threaten to restrict the entry of international students to “top” universities (using TEF), while staff who are EU citizens face an uncertain future. International students and staff make vital contributions to our education, which also depends on learning, research and collaboration across borders. Post Brexit volatility and these fresh government attacks will accelerate marketization and inequalities across our institutions. How do we resist and fight for an education without barriers and borders?

Host: NUS

Room: Restaurant

Wednesday 26 April, 5pm - 6pm

What's new QSU?

What is Quality Students' Unions? QSU is the framework within which you will be supported and guided to be a strong and resilient students' union. It is a development tool that enables you to assess current practice and identify areas for further development, celebrating your successes and facilitating peer-support through communities of practice. This session will be a series of case-studies from students' unions who have completed or are in the process of going through QSU (cross-nations, HE & FE), with space for your questions to explore how this could work for you.

Host: NUS

Room: Meeting room 1A 

Apprentices: Work, Wishes and Wins

Come meet NSoA and friends in an active and interactive tour of what NSoA has been up to this year.

This is the year for you to come and hear how apprentice representation works in practice. Colleges come and hear what apprentices have been saying.

With the introduction of the Apprentice Levy and Degree and Graduate Apprenticeships, this session is particularly important to HE unions - the apprentices are arriving in your institutions, are you ready for them.

Host: NSoA

Room: Meeting room 1B

Strengthening NUS Democracy

2017 is the year we'll agree on a new democratic system for NUS. Everyone agrees that change is needed. We've spent 18 months doing research, holding conversations, developing new ideas and consulting students and students' unions to arrive at the proposal. This session will evidence the proposals, the support and thought behind them; it's an opportunity to ask questions and gain clarification before voting through the ideas on conference floor.

Host: NUS

Room: Meeting room 1C

How students are taking action to empower refugees

The global refugee crisis is at its worst since World War II, and there are now over 60 million refugees worldwide. Of these, 86% are hosted in developing countries while the UK hosts less than 1%.

In our session you will learn about the UK's response to the current refugee crisis, and how STAR student union societies take action to improve this by volunteering, fundraising, campaigning and raising awareness. 

You will also hear about how you can take part in NUS and STAR's Equal Access campaign to improve access to university for refugees and asylum seekers.

Host: Student Action for Refugees (STAR)

Room: Syndicate 1

Brexit means Brexit, but can we really make a success of it?

It’s April 2017, we’ve triggered Article 50 and are on a one way ticket out of the European Union and the single market. We know that leaving the EU will have extensive consequences for every single person, but what will it mean for you as a worker? 

Join Robbie Young, Vice President Society and Citizenship and a panel of experts as they discuss leaving the EU and the impact this will have on you and your employment rights, as well as the increasing importance of Trade Unions and the need to embed sustainability into future careers.

Host: NUS Society & Citizenship Zone

Room: Syndicate 2

How to run a students' union at a FE institution?

This session will launch the FE Sabbatical Officer toolkit - which comprises of a guide for a sabbatical officer on how to run a Students' Union in a FE institution. 

This includes guidance on constitutions and governance structures, how to improve learner engagement, creating and running valuable campaigns, making your Students' Union accessible and liberated, highlighting the importance of a Sabbatical Officer, and much much more. 

Come to this session to hear about the guide, to ask our FE panel questions, and to network with other college students' unions from across the UK.

Host: NUS Wales

Room: Syndicate 3

Keep Wednesday Afternoons Free: LIVE

As pressure builds on institutions to squeeze more into less, it's crucial our movement fights for space for healthy living and an education outside the classroom. KWAF campaigners are showing how clubs, societies and volunteering are not fluffy, using hard evidence and serious campaigning to show the impact of opportunities on education and society. KWAF: LIVE is a fun, active and informal fringe celebrating the power of student opportunities. Drop by for a mix of games, snacks, sports and craftivism as well as information on the campaign and our growing national evidence base for student opportunities.

Host: NUS Union Development Zone, Middlesex University Students' Union

Room: Auditorium 2

Stop Deportations - End Prevent: We are Students, Not Suspects!

The struggles facing Black and international students are huge. A backlash of bigotry, a rise of the far-right and the bolstering of anti-migrant sentiment.

State surveillance is creeping into our colleges and universities through the guise of the Prevent Duty. Students are being spied on while they pray or surf the web.

While Theresa May stands hand in hand with Donald Trump, the student movement must stand firm alongside those facing the brunt of her racist policies.

Come to this fringe and hear from speakers who have been involved in fighting Home Office policy on detention, deportation, counter-terrorism and more.

Host: NUS International Students' Campaign and Black Students' Campaign

Room: Restaurant

Wednesday 26 April, 8.30pm - 9.30pm

NUS Staff Trade Union Fringe

Hear from the returning / newly elected NUS President to address staff for the first time. Entertainment and refreshments will be provided and there will be fundraising activities.

Host: NUS Trade Union

Room: Restaurant

We've purposely not scheduled any fringe sessions over lunch time in order to allow delegates the opportunity to take a break from Conference.

If you are a student group who would plan a meetup over lunch, please respect that delegates need time during the day to take a break.