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A FREE SOCIETY

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• University Increases Students’ Union Funding
• Societies and Clubs Benefit from Free Memberships

Picture by Eddy Reynolds

From the start of the next academic year, all Bangor University students will be able to join S.U. societies and A.U. clubs for free. This development comes after lobbying from the team at Bangor Students’ Union to get students more value for money in light of the University’s increase of tuition fees to £9,000 per year which beings this September. Clubs and societies charge anywhere from a few pounds to over a hundred for membership so this could potentially save students hundreds of pounds each year.

The Students’ Union has been firmly against any rise in tuition fees since the idea was first proposed back in 2010 and refused to stand down when the decision was made to increase students’ fees to £9,000. The union wanted to ensure that students wouldn’t be losing out from this fee increase and that the extra money would be pumped back into student facing areas. One way to ensure this was to have the University increase Students’ Union funding to cover the costs of membership fees.

We have been given assurances that free membership for any student to any club or society will not mean that the club or society in question will lose money. The increase to the Union’s budget will be used to cover the money that students themselves would have previously invested through membership fees. The amount that each individual club and society will receive is yet to be finalised, but will be worked out with the current year’s membership in mind.

When the University initially announced its intention to support the Students’ Union’s initiative, President Jo Caulfield, who had been at the centre of negotiations, released this statement:

“We have been fiercely lobbying for Bangor University to invest in areas that matter to students and directly benefit students… From the academic year 2012/13, student clubs and societies will be completely free for all students. This means no membership fees and no additional personal insurance costs. Whilst we are pleased with this commitment, it is simply a starting point, and we will be continuing the pressure on our institution to make significant improvements in areas that directly benefit students. We are also calling on the University to be transparent about where students’ money is being spent.

Bangor Students’ Union campaigned hard against fee increases and we view any additional cost to students as unpalatable, unwelcome and a risk to the adage that higher education should be available to those with ability, not those with the ability to pay.

We will continue to be at the forefront of discussions to ensure that Bangor students receive additional benefits in line with their additional investment.”

Bangor University’s agreement to this is just the start of an overall shift in the way the University makes its decisions. With their new Student Experience Enhancement Strategy, the University will guarantee that students will be at the heart of its decision making process. This strategy was written in collaboration with the Students’ Union and covers areas such as student employability, the services the University offers, developing its education strategy and committing to a more inclusive and diverse student community. The strategy also commits the University to “sketching out plans for transport links between our campus sites in Bangor, to make it easier for you to get around”, which we think those who live in Bryn Eithin halls will be particularly pleased by. An online version of the strategy can be found on the SU website:
www.bangorstudents.com

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LJ Taylor

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