The National Union for Students (NUS) has joined the board of ‘Britain’s Stronger in Europe’, supporting the campaign for continued membership of the European Union. There has been some dispute over the neutrality NUS is supposed to uphold, and by making a gesture in such strong support of a campaign, NUS has been accused of breaking their responsibility to represent all students. Writing in The Independent, the Chair of NUS, Megan Dunn, explained that “Current and future generations have greater opportunities when we are connected to countries we share experiences and resources with. Put simply, working together with nations who share our interests and values makes our country, and our society, stronger”.
She added that the NUS supports Britain’s continued membership of the EU, arguing that membership enhances the rights of all students. She continues that cooperation and collaboration are at the heart of the NUS movement, and as president of the National Union of Students, she believes that free movement to study and learn as well as the vital funding we receive from Europe, is not just a benefit of our membership – it is essential for the future of Britain.
Emphasising that leaving would mean voluntarily isolating ourselves from our largest trading partners and a vital source of investment and jobs, the chairman added that “over 200,000 students have studied or worked abroad under the Erasmus education programme since its establishment in 1987, with around 15,000 UK students studying in the EU in 2012 alone, where students were allowed to study without having to spend money on expensive visas”.
She argues that she has not heard “anything from those campaigning for us to leave Europe which explains how they would protect our prosperity by standing on the world’s side-lines”. Megan Dunn maintains her stance as proud to be part of the campaign as she claims that the EU ‘supports our education sector in Britain and ploughs close to a billion pounds a year into higher education funding and research alone, with students up and down the country today benefitting directly from the courses and resources that come with this money.
This income is increasingly important. EU funding now provides an additional 15% on top of the UK government’s own science and research budget’. She insists that ‘if we sleepwalked out of the EU, this funding – or at the very least our influence over it – would be at risk’.
The NUS Chairman concluded: “My members; students’ unions and their students all over the UK are clear on this. The campaign ahead must be a positive message; Britain is stronger when we work together. Students in Britain do not fear today’s modern, diverse world. We fear isolation, not internationalism”.