1,500 students head for city conference

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ABOUT 1,500 delegates from across the UK will come to Sheffield this month for the annual conference of the National Union of Students.

Final preparations are being made to host the event in the City Hall from April 24 to 26, when the NUS will set its policy for the year ahead and elect national student representatives.

Sheffield was chosen for the conference because it has one of the largest and most diverse student bodies in the country, with 60,000 students making up 10% of the local population.

University of Sheffield students’ union President Thom Arnold said: “Sheffield is a brilliant student city so it is really appropriate that the conference, which is the pinnacle of the student calendar, should be coming to us and will be a great opportunity to showcase everything the student population brings to Sheffield and the wider community.”

The delegates will stay in hotels, in a boost for the local economy.

Among the issues that will be raised at the conference by Sheffield student representatives over the three days will be a motion to resist Government proposals to scrap the legal obligation for people to provide their local Electoral Registration Officer with information and switch from a system of household to individual electoral registration.

“This is a change which could see over 10 million people ceasing to be registered and it is particularly problematic for students as many students live in houses of multiple occupancy and frequently move address,” said Thom.

“As such, students are more likely to be affected by these changes, which is especially worrying as students and young people are already disproportionately not registered to vote.”

Sheffield University students will also be pressing for the continued right to protest on campus.

“We believe that the right to peacefully protest is a human right.

“However, this year we’ve seen universities seeking legal avenues to crack down on peaceful protest, hindering the right or students to express their views and opinions and undermining the creation of students who ask questions and challenge what they’re told.

“We’re asking that the conference condemn any legal action a university takes against their students who want to peacefully campaign or protest on campus and that the NUS should provide a clear tool kit and training for students’ unions to work positively with their institution in order to effectively defend students’ basic rights to peacefully campaign and protest.

“We also want to provide students’ unions with free legal advice in emergencies when they are faced with injunctions, orders or other legal actions against peacefully protesting by a university.”