It's time for the
NUS Referendum.

Back in May 2016, a campus wide referendum was held where the majority of Newcastle University students voted to disaffiliate (67% to 33%) from the National Union of Students (NUS). NUSU is obliged to hold a referendum on NUS affiliation every 3 years, and 2022 is the year we open the vote back up to students. The vote will happen in early march, and to help with this, we are looking for 2 teams of students to become NUS Campaigners to campaign on whether we should re-affiliate or remain disaffiliated with the NUS. If you're interested to being one of these campaigners, find out more below.

Applications to become one of the Students' Union NUS Campaigners for the referendum close on 28 January, noon.

Become a Campaigner Find Out More

Background Information

NUS stands for "National Union of Students" and it is a membership organisation that works to represent the views of students and Students’ Unions. Many Students’ Unions are affiliated with NUS, and some are not. Each Students’ Union pays to be a member of the NUS and receives benefits for the students and their students for doing so.  The NUS is led by an elected team of Officers, including the President of the NUS.

No. Back in May 2016, a campus-wide referendum was held where the majority of Newcastle University students voted to disaffiliate (67-33%) from NUS. This was the first time NUSU voted to disaffiliate with NUS. Students then voted to remain disaffiliated with NUS following a campus-wide referendum in December 2018. However, this time it was a much closer margin compared to 2016 (52-48%).


Your Chance to Vote

Why are we running a referendum if we have disaffiliated already?

As has been the case since the late 1990s, NUSU is obliged to hold a referendum on affiliation to NUS every 3 years, as it is stated in our constitution. This applies whether we are affiliated with the NUS or not. Originally this year’s referendum was scheduled for before the end of 2021. However, following a motion to Student Council in October 2021, this was delayed until semester 2 of the 2021/22 academic year.

What will happen after the vote?

Should the turnout be equal to or more than 5% of the total student population of Newcastle University, then the result of the referendum will be binding. Should turnout be less than 5% then the result would need to be ratified by NUSU Trustee Board. If the ratified vote was that NUSU re-affiliated, then this would be done in time for the start of the new academic year.

Voting will open at 12noon on Monday 7th March and will close again at 12noon on Thursday 10th March. This is the same period that voting for the NUSU Student Elections will be open. All students are eligible to vote. The voting link will be when the voting goes live.

When you come to vote, you will be asked the following question ‘Would you like NUSU to re-affiliate with the National Union of Students (NUS) the UK? ‘

  • Yes (I would like NUSU to reaffiliate with NUS UK) OR
  • No (I would like NUSU to remain disaffiliated from NUS UK)

As this is a referendum and multiple-choice questions have not been requested, there will be just two options to vote for (Yes and No). There will be no option to vote for Abstain and Re-Open Nominations. The count will be conducted by the simple plurality system with the option that receives the most votes being the winner.

Although this referendum is specifically to join NUS UK (the campaigning arm of NUS), should you vote for NUSU to affiliate with NUS UK, we will also affiliate with the NUS Charity (the Students’ Union development arm of NUS).

We encourage everyone to research About NUS and come to their own conclusion about which way to vote. During Voting Week and the period leading up to it, there may well be students who put themselves forward to campaign for either side as to whether NUSU should reaffiliate and we suggest that you listen to their points of view. At NUSU we will make sure that there are opportunities to hear from these students.

What is the cost to be part of the NUS (UK & Charity)?

  • The current annual affiliation fee for NUSU to join NUS UK is £30,000
  • The current annual affiliation fee for NUSU to join NUS Charity is £7,500
  • Therefore, should we affiliate the total annual cost would be £37,500


For affiliation to NUS UK, we are entitled to:

  • Shape, influence, take part in, support, and hold to account NUS’ national and nation-specific campaigns
  • Elect, work with and hold to account the NUS Full-time officer (FTO) executive team
  • Attend, participate, and vote in NUS conferences and events.


For affiliation to the NUS Charity, we will be provided with:

  • Core support – Creating and Growing Strong Students’ Unions.
  • Championing the Value of Students’ Unions
  • Connection and Curation – bringing students’ unions from across the UK together, creating spaces where officers and staff can share ideas and resources and tackle problems together locally and nationally
  • Crisis Support –  Providing members in crisis core support through advice, guidance and resources including the diagnostic tools they need.

Help Campaign

Yes, and whichever way you wish to campaign, we have funds to support each side. If you would like to put yourself forward to campaign for either side of the vote (to stay disaffiliated, or to re-affiliate with the NUS), please complete the NUS Campaigner application form by 12noon on 28 January.

Once you complete the NUS Campaigner application form, you will be invited to campaign training with all the other students who have been nominated to campaign for each side. A total of £100 can be claimed by each side (Yes or No). All those who nominate themselves for each side will need to come together and decide themselves who will be the campaign manager. The campaign manager will be responsible for managing the allowance and will be responsible for the conduct of the campaign team, in the same manner as a candidate in the NUSU Student Elections. If you would like more information about potentially becoming a campaigner for either side, please let us know.