Daniel Cooper,  today elected for the NUS block of 15, was revealed by NUS VP of Further Education Joe Vinson, to be an ineligible candidate in the 2014 elections.

In a move branded ‘cynical’ in a thinly disguised Tweet by President Toni Pearce, he allegedly signed up for a Further Education course solely to run as a representative of Further Education. With just 12 candidates and 5 positions, candidates would have to secure potentially fewer votes to be elected to the Block of 15.

If this is true, then it deprives Further Education students of the chance to represent 4 million of their own students. It could also have a devastating impact on the women running in the FE election, further hitting fair representation in the NUS.  It is believed that only 3 out of the 5 available FE positions are now filled by FE students.  It has the potential to deter Further Education students from participating in NUS politics, if they believe that students can sign up for FE at the last minute in order to represent them.

Mr Cooper, a controversial figure in the ULU establishment, ran for both President and Block in the NUS elections, despite the fact that he was, according to some, not a student in the NUS, but a sabb in ULU.  Rachel Wenstone, outgoing VP of Higher Education in the NUS, advised that ULU officers cannot run for election, ‘so signed up to an FE college for purposes of election’.

Susuana Antubam, Womens’ Officer for ULU, contends that ‘For Clarification – Being a ULU Sabb gives you UoL Student status. UoL is a not constituent member of NUS. (1/2) #nusnc14‘, but still does not answer why Mr Cooper decided to stand for FE, if he is qualified to run in a HE election. 

Mr Cooper, who is Vice President of the ailing University of London Union, lost the Presidential NUS elections to Ms Pearce. ULU is set to close at the end of this academic year, after facing several queries over its representation of students.

Toni Pearce tweeted that ‘It is pretty cynical to stand in an FE election when you’re a Sabb in a HE union. Sorry to the FE officers who lost out #nusnc14‘, contending that the NUS ‘can’t risk shutting out people who genuinely go to FE …System relies upon integrity’. Joe Vinson commented: ‘No congratulations to @ULUVicePresDLC, [Daniel Cooper] elected to a FE reserved place on Block of 15, pushing out a genuine FE voice from the NEC. #nusnc14‘.

Aaron Kiely is also under fire from Mr Vinson, who has suggested that he did not graduate from a Further Education institution and was running from his previous NUS position as Black Students’ Officer. This potentially raises the debate over whether Further Education elections should be open solely to students who are successful in Further Education.

In light of these allegations from reputable student representatives, the NUS Returning Officer is under increasing pressure to secure an inquiry into the educational backgrounds of Further Education candidates. If allegations are true, then this could potentially render the Block of 15 election process ineffective and unfair.

 More reactions to come. 

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