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NUS Liberation Conference 2024

An update from your SU representatives who attended NUS Liberation conference 2024 in Blackpool.

president student experiencePresidents blog

Key ideas:

  • what motions passed
  • how students can get involved
  • the vibe
  • the conversations

In April, myself, Connie, and Moraa- an Exeter student- made the long, arduous journey to Blackpool in the North West of England to attend the annual NUS Liberation Conference. Blackpool is known for its Pleasure Beach, holiday antics, and crazy stag and hen dos. But during this rainy week in April, it was overrun with thousands of students from the four nations (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) ready to make real, impactful change.

To attend Liberation Conference (LibCon), you have to self-identify as being part of a liberation group:

  • Woman
  • LGBT
  • Trans
  • Black*
  • Black* woman
  • Disabled

*NUS currently uses Black is an inclusive term to denote people of African, Arab, Asian and Caribbean heritage.

Unlike Students’ Unions, NUS is not a charity, so has more scope to lobby and campaign on various issues, and interact directly with the Government. This meant that LibCon was a great opportunity to discuss BIG issues affecting students, especially marginalised students, and face up to those systemic problems that are causing students to struggle.

Before Christmas, Connie and I spoke to Nehaal, the NUS Vice President Liberation and Equality, about what to expect from LibCon. It was here that we learnt we could submit motions as an SU, so we quickly got to work brainstorming how we could make big change. We submitted a motion regarding trans rights, which turned into True Trans Liberation. Fast forward to April, and we’re stood in front of 80 students and sabbatical officers, presenting our motion ready for two days of discussion! This element isn’t a requirement for attending LibCon, so if you’d like to attend next year, don’t be put off by the public speaking! In those sessions, we met so many dedicated students who brought their lived experience to the table- sometimes it was painful to hear. The targeted discrimination toward transgender people today is just abhorrent. But we also heard about how other SUs are supporting their students, and got to share our positive experiences too- like the SU Gender Expression Fund.

While we were discussing Trans liberation, there were numerous other conversations happening at the same time about other policies:

True Trans Liberation Policy outlines what NUS and students' unions can do to campaign for trans rights and support trans students, including inclusion of trans students in sport, banning conversion therapy, and challenging Department of Education guidance on trans students.

De-colonisation Campaign Policy called for a refreshment of the de-colonisation campaign and an update of the focus of the campaign to include an intersectional lens.

International Students Policy outlines that international students want NUS to lobby against harsh policies for international students and showcase the brilliant work that international students contribute to our community and society.

Liberation Collective Policy clarifies the proposal for the liberation collective and how it is intended to work for NUS, sabbatical officers, and students.

“I was thrilled to have represented the student union as a Black* woman at the vibrant National Union of Students Liberation Conference in Blackpool. I attended the International Students Policy session. During the session we discussed issues faced by international students, such as the new government work visa rules and high costs of tuition fees and visa costs that international students must put up with. We deliberated over changes we wished to see, including the government adopting a more friendly tone towards international students, changing rules on international students bringing dependents and changing the universities’ funding model to reduce reliance on international student income. Overall, it was empowering to engage in critical discussions shaping our future at the LibCon. I am grateful for this opportunity. Gathering with diverse voices helped me recognise the power in the collective towards advocating for meaningful change.” - Moraa Siekei, Second Year Environmental Science at the University of Exeter

These policies will now inform NUS priorities for the years ahead, and shape how they lobby governmental and educational institutions, with the needs of students right in the centre. The new VP Liberation and Equality will create campaigns around these policies, and you can get involved with the Liberation Collective individually by signing up through NUS or coming and talk to The SU team.

Overall, Liberation Conference was a nourishing space to meet students from hundreds of universities, and it was amazing to see the drive for change-making when we can work collectively as students. It was also quite confronting to realise to breadth and depth of challenges faced by all different kinds of students, but I hope that real change will come soon- we can all be active participants in that happening.

If you would like to attend Liberation Conference next year, chat to your sabbatical officers or The SU's Engagement Team for more information. Make sure you also attend Student Forum, where the SU policy proposals for next year will be shaped and decided.


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Falmouth & Exeter Students' Union
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Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union is a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) registered in England and Wales, charity number 1193045