Monday, 20 April 2009

"Student Unions - the co-operative hubs of tomorrow"

An article about the co-operations and students dropped into my reader from Politics for People. It's quite a brief article but I found it interesting it raises a few points relevant students, specifically how co-operation could be introduced into universities.

The current economic downturn is going to make it harder for students to support themselves throughout their education. It is more important than ever that students are at the heart of the services that their unions offer. It has been widely acknowledged that, working with the co-operative movement, student unions could be developing a co-operative model of student housing, where students could have democratic control in the way that their student residence is run. Apathy is a huge challenge when it comes to getting the vast majority of students to use their vote in student union elections and the indicators show that this is because they don’t see how elections directly affect them. By giving students a real say in their living arrangements, we can show how being involved in the wider politics of the student union can also affect their student experience.

I am still very proud of my union and the opportunities and services that it offered me whilst I was a student. However I share a progressive dream with others in the co-operative movement that in the future student unions can go even further down the path of becoming co-operative hubs for the needs of their students. Why couldn’t the union act as a credit union for the use its students to help them through the hard times? Why shouldn’t students be given a dividend if they are regular customers of student union shops and other services?

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