Sheffield cashes in on city student conference

Students at the NUS conference at the City Hall l to r Aidan Tanner,Naomi Beecroft  Rosie HUZZARD and Ed Maltby
Students at the NUS conference at the City Hall l to r Aidan Tanner,Naomi Beecroft Rosie HUZZARD and Ed Maltby
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TACTICS in the next stage of the campaign against rising tuition fees are top of the agenda as the National Union of Students holds its annual conference at Sheffield City Hall this week.

More than 800 delegates from universities and colleges across the country have gathered in the city - with the NUS confirming Sheffield will host the event next year as well.

The two conferences are expected to pump more than £2 million into the city’s economy, with hotels, restaurants and pubs set to cash in.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield welcomed the NUS to Sheffield - but Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg turneddown an invitation to speak.

Union president Liam Burns opened the three-day event by pointing out that while most new undergraduates would be paying top rate fees of £9,000 a year from September, university vice-chancellors would on average be paying £3,000 less a year in tax thanks to the Budget.

“Nobody can argue that we are all in it together, not when those are the rules of the game,” he said.

Mr Burns called on vice-chancellors to donate their windfalls to a new NUS fund to promote fair access to higher education for all.

Outside the hall Tim Ellis, union president at York University, said there were differences about how to continue the fight against fees.

“Some want to see another major national demonstration while more moderate delegates want to ensure that students from all backgrounds continue to go to university and that we then give them the support and backing they need,” he said.

Graeme Osborn, also from York, said students needed to accept policies were unlikely to change before a General Election in 2015.

He said: “The issue is how we conduct ourselves until then.

“Fees will still be an issue in two to three years time and as a movement we need to suggest a valid alternative to such high charges.”