This week Tori Watson grabbed a quick coffee with Fergal McFerran, the Deputy President of NUS-USI, to find out a little more about the organisation, what it does, and who can get involved.
The NUS-USI stands for the National Union of Students – Union of Students in Ireland, and is the “representative body for approximately 200,000 students across NI who are currently in higher and further education.” Their main role is to “represent, campaign and lobby on behalf of students, on lots of different relevant issues”.
In the coming year the NUS-USI have will be putting a lot of focus on the forthcoming UK general election, however they are also looking at other issues that their “officer team are working on with their own individual mandates”. These issue include marriage equality, women’s reproductive rights and student finance.
The NUS-USI recently released their findings from the ‘Pound in your pocket’ research, which has been accredited as one of “the most comprehensive pieces of research” to be compiled on “student finance in NI.” Following the release of this data, Fergal said, “Minister Stephen Farry, from the Department of Education and Learning has agreed to complete a review of student finance in NI, so we’re obviously keen to feed into that process, to see results of that in a progressive way that will have a positive impact for students in higher education in NI.”
In the next few weeks the NUS-USI Officers will be preparing “to go to every freshers fair in the country”, so that they “have a presence on every university and college campus across NI”. Fergal assured Tori that “the Officer team will be out in force to meet students and to have a chat about issues which are affecting them, to have a chat about how they can get involved and to enable students to feed into (NUS-USI’s) work, to ensure that what (NUS-USI) do is entirely student led.”
If you are a student with an issue or concern about something which is happening in your university, Fergal’s advice is to “make contact with your student’s union” as “quite often they are experts in what’s going on in your campus”. However “if it’s something that you want to have a chat with (NUS-USI) about, just get in touch. You can find out all our details on social media, online and we’d certainly love to hear from students.”
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