Earlier this month, the NUS annual conference took place in Liverpool. Toni Pearce, the NUS’s formidable President, was comfortably re-elected.
It’s 15 years since I was a delegate at the NUS conference. It was in Blackpool, rather lively (£1,000 tuition fees had just been introduced) and a Robbie Williams impersonator was on hand to provide evening entertainment.
It’s not that easy to find out precisely what happened at this year’s conference (the existing policy section on NUSConnect doesn’t include the 2014 motions yet), but I was intrigued to see there was a debate on whether the police should be allowed on campus. There’s an account of what happened on the website of Nouse of the University of York, which explains the debate focused on police tactics and student safety among other things.
There is a precedent for barring the police. For understandable historical reasons, the police are not routinely allowed on campuses in Greece. But, when I spoke at a conference in that country recently, some of the academics present told me the rule had unintended consequences that threatened academic freedom.
Perhaps that’s not an immediate risk in the UK, but does anyone know if it was discussed?