5.26pm: 63 votes: Steph Lloyd received 45 with Jon receiving 18: Steph Lloyd is voted as the NUS Wales President!

5.25pm: Position of NUS Wales Deputy President: Quote for 31 votes- RON had 3, there was 1 spoil, Raechel Mattey had 59 votes and is now the NUS Wales Deputy President!

5.24pm: Elections announcement!

5.16pm: Kanja: Some actions are really hardlined- need to maintain boundaries. Student activists- trying to allign NUS with contacts- ensure that these unions are delivered. Direct contact. Affiliation fees to ensure that students understand the value of these unions.

Usman: Large focus on small/specialist institutions. Engage with students’ unions that NUS can reach out to. Working on events that may not have the finance required to implement change. Making information more accessible. Encouraging engagement and true representation. Students are part of the community. Learning from others.

Ed: Important that as many NUS projects as possible are done through students’ unions. NUS Extra has done well. Challenge for students and for students’ unions is that the agenda is standing still. Need to radically challenge this.

Liam: Important with small and specialist- doesn’t care about the status or size of the building. Look at hidden costs. Extending projects across the UK to find out more about hidden costs. Recognise position that students are in. Priority for students on campus now is the money in their pockets- lack of [money] is why they have to drop out of their respective institutions.

5.15pm: Second round of questions.

5pm: Questions: Liam Burns: Working with National parties. Situation where Liberal Democrats are in a position where they are being knocked out of the running. Labour is difficult to work with. Process has been started and NUS will have to see how the general elections go.

Kanja Sesay: Ensuring that we deliver. Political allignment: Need to have a consultation. Last alliance did not go well- needs to be thought through and implemented in a more effective manner.

Usman Ali: Has worked closely with NUS Wales- struggled to identity on occasions. Worth promoting NUS Wales. Strategic alliance: last general elections NUS worked with the party with the best policies for students. Would pressure parties and ensure that they do not make false pledges. Work out what the priorities are. Encourage students to pressure political parties.

Ed Marsh: Would want to form an alliance with the political parties who recognise the values of students. Last year got too hung up on the promises of what they would do.

2.50pm: Questions for NUS UK Presidential candidates are up next.

2.38pm: Voting now taking place for NUS Wales Presidential elections.

Jon: Needs to be far more evidence of delivering on campus issues. Challenging the way we are with the student community. Delivering messages to campuses. Being more of an active presence. Holding institutions more to account than ever before. Make sure that NUS has the ability to reject things, to say “no”.

Steph: Doesn’t want NUS to just be about fees, course reps, etc. Still a huge priority but also need to reach out to the huge number of student activists. Really passionate about education policy. Need to be at the forefront of the community. Liberation needs to be at the heart of everything we do. Making sure that we have an education system that works for us. Breaking down the barriers between FE and HE.

4.36pm: Final question: What are your priorities for the year ahead?

4.31pm: Steph: UK- different regions in the UK- Wales, ROI, England, etc, now have almost completely different funding systems. Came to Wales as an English student and thrived. View on the future of the University of Wales. Cannot let “one company walk around and be held completely unaccountable.” Need to talk about regional representation of courses. Students should not have to travel around the country to do their course. “What is wrong with just doing Further Education?” Making sure that students are genuinely at the heart of decision-making. “I am serious. Just because I don’t have a degree in Law does not mean that I don’t understand how to represent students.” Holding universities to account.

4.29pm: Jon up first: Future of the University of Wales. Feeling “left out” after events over the last couple of months. Wants to see the institution take on a new form. Needs to start “picking its boots up”. In terms of mergers there are real opportunities. Was fed inaccurate information. Mentions situation with Cardiff Met. Need to be in a position where if mergers are the only thing on the agenda- the long-term effects are considered. Funding gap between Welsh institutions and institutions over the border. Serious challenge in terms of how Welsh universities can appeal to students in the current climate.

4.28pm: Third round of questions.

4.24pm: Jon up next: Dropping huge variants. Need to improve support. In terms developing opportunities- has discussed work-based learning. Need to look at Welsh government- offering opportunities for students. Skills that can be picked up at university- volunteering, community work, etc. Post-grad: Need to be offering “real alternatives”, access routes to PG funding. Need to restore control to liberation groups. “You” set the agenda.

4.23pm: Steph is up first: Increasing employability: Need to talk about a real tertiary education system. Not enough to tell people that sitting in a classroom is the best thing. Transferable skills that will work are required. Started a women’s football team at university- allowed the application of skills that help employability. Teaching students how to sell employable skills. Liberation- making sure that campaigns are fully funded and resourced. Wants to be able to talk about the detrimental impact of fees on women students. Thinks that liberation campaigns are about engaging activism. Organising activists across campus. Not just about holding the odd demo[nstration] every couple of years.

4.20pm: Second round of questions being asked.

4.17pm: Steph Lloyd answers: Need to be honest about what’s been going on. Making sure the Welsh government drive down tuition fees. About saying more money is required. Need to look Welsh institutions being able to compete. Need to talk about being proactive- being forthright- designing own strategy. Student union funding and different approaches- need to look at FE as well as HE. About working with people in different ways. Understanding the diverse membership of NUS Wales.

4.14pm: Jon answers: In terms of redistribution of student levels- need to start challenging- put the initiatives on the tables. Working with students’ unions to find out what their needs are. One of the main things covered in his manifesto is the approach of finding what the needs of the institutions are. Harness the power of local lobbying. Finding the fairest outcome for students. Making sure that whatever NUS Wales does is fair for students. Focus on participation on a number of levels.

4.13pm: On to questions: John is up first.

4.08pm: Steph Lloyd: “Can’t see myself doing anything else.” Discusses the opportunity to make change. Experience of position at Swansea Met. Student movement is “more than the political dialogue that surrounds us”. Asking for conference to give her the chance to ensure progression. Education is not just about exams. Means a society where social justice is not just an idea. 9k fees in Wales is an example of the threat of privatisation. Says a vote for her is not just the status-quo. Votes for collectivism. Has never failed to be inspired by an activist in the student movement. “Scandal” that in Wales there are students’ unions with no funding or support. Wants to be a President that leads the union that everyone else is desperate to be a part of. Need National unions- need clear vision, clear values. “Not just about a new vision for NUS Wales.” Has experience- huge involvement in campaigns. Identifies as a student activist. “Together we can really make this vision a reality.”

4.03pm: Jon Antoniazzi: “This is our time to do something different.” Says he is the only independent candidate with experience, passion and commitment. Does not stand back. Biggest weapon in armoury is refusal to sit back and not take action. Need to lead a students’ movement and lead change. Will be on campus listening to issues and putting them first on the National agenda. Wants to improve students’ life in Wales. Ensure support. Says NUS Wales needs to show real leadership. Ensure that activist training is delivered when and where needed. Will fight to ensure stronger representation. Will identify financial barriers. Will work with training to identify how NUS Wales can achieve real representation. Says that upfront fees are extortionate- will lobby for a fair deal. “Only candidate with experience to create a fairer Wales.” Need to stand up and fight for the right to a fair education. National Union will make its voice heard.

4.02pm: On to speeches from candidates for NUS Wales Presidential elections.

4pm: Voting now taking place for NUS Wales Deputy President elections.

3.54pm: Questions: Barriers to students in Wales: Safeguarding policies. Resources for travel to and from events. FE delegate prices must be as low as they can be. Make sure delegates are campaigning for their students.

Questions: Students should be considered. Problems faced this year- Welsh Baccalaureate not being recognised. Hopefully review will question that.

Questions: Ideas on formally recognising students’ unions who are engaged in their communities: “Mixed feelings”- does not believe that it should just be an FE/HE tag-along. Need to make sure that students are working with local charities and communities and recognise them for it.

General question: How would you intend to support student liberation? Making sure that liberation campaigns can be brought into FE. Can be a daunting task to bring liberation campaigns into FE institutions. Worked with Steph (Lloyd) to break down stereotypes.

3.49pm: Last year asked for support and trust to make an impact. Asked for people to put faith in her. Proud to say that FE colleges are and have been at the forefront of Wales. Strength and unity in Wales have become powerful tools. Time in her life where she saw that with passion and drive much can be accomplished. Too many accomplished students are still being let down. Despite challenges she has been inspired by those who despite a lack of funding have stood up for what they believe is right. This year has seen a record number of training events. Wants to deliver training, help support and impact FE students in Wales. Protecting student representation. Wales has the highest percentage of young people not in employment, education or training. Need to ensure that student support is enhanced and protected. Access for all. Lobbying and influencing the sector on a number of issues. Demanding that student voices shape FE in Wales. Will ensure that momentum is kept. Working with, not against. Ensured and will continue to ensure Welsh representation. Asks for support to fight for FE, to support student activities, and keep the momentum.

3.48pm: Official elections are beginning. Candidate Raechal Mattey is up to make her speech.

3.40pm: Managed to pull ourselves away from the most amazing flapjacks EVER, reconvening for NUS Wales Deputy President elections!

3.05pm: Ideas: Changing education so people could drop in- rather than three year courses. Making sure that people in local communities could access the university. Making sure that lecturers “can actually teach”. Making education more fun rather than having “dry book subjects”- more interactive.

3.01pm: Ideas: Question of how qualifications are balanced. Differences between teaching and learning. Importance of communication- “community learning”. Opening up courses- making sure that students can do any course they wish to study. Ability to learn about subjects of interest.

2.58pm: More ideas: Better facilities, equipment, etc. Modules on each course must be relevant. More campuses merged together to encourage a better variety of tutors. Tutors should be able to go between different campuses.

2.54pm: Ideas from each group being put forward. Ideas: “People who learn faster should be allowed to advance faster”. Instead of being held back, every child would be allowed to reach their full potential. School should start at a later time to increase potential for productivity. One-to-one option for students who are finding a particular subject difficult.

2.40pm: Sitting with Joni (Communications Officer) and Rachel while everyone else enjoys the sunshine outside and thinks about the system of education in Wales.

2.28pm: Everyone looking wonderfully uncomfortable about what resembles a mass circle-time. Being asked to appoint someone in each group to write the material. Round-robins: “If you could change the education system in Wales, what would you do?”

2.25pm: Jim Dickinson continues: “We thought mergers were just about which logo you get”- could be about all sorts of other things.

2.20pm: Quite an odd video at that, but very good. Talks about how children are “anaesthetised” to get them through education.

2.12pm: Lost internet connection for a moment, back now! Short video being shown.

2.10pm: Leighton Andrews (current minister) “big” in devolution circles (founder of 1997 Yes Campaign). “A different Leighton agenda”- “Welsh” very common and heightened with current politics. A tertiary wide outlook. Planning not markets (but sensitive to the English market). Concerned about (but not obsessed by) the economy and labour. Flexibility in curriculum, mode, age, etc.

2.05pm: Welsh White Paper: Following Council’s mandate to create NUS Wales’ vision for the future of education in Wales- “we have begun work to make this happen”. Work to date: Background analysis and research. External partners engaged. Scenario planning, labour market analysis. Session for delegates held at NUS Wales Council.

2.02pm: “The Wider Opportunity”. NUS Wales asserting itself as a creative, powerful, influencing body. Interested in system (“production”) goals as well as rights (“money”) goals. “Leighton won’t be around forever.” VCs and HEW beset by “inertia and self interest”. FE beset by duties and poor funding. Extraordinary opportunity for students to fill the void and set the agenda on Tertiary education.

1.59pm: Compares NUS Wales to a car in traffic waiting for a gap/someone to listen.

1.55pm: Jim Dickinson. “Elections present opportunities.” Says that there are different sorts of power at different times. Some people chosen to advocate policies will have a different impact than others. Power to influence people. Different between influence and power.

1.45pm: Peter Hughes thanked for his appearance as guest speaker. Holding a quick break then moving on to a presentation of the White Paper by Jim Dickinson.

1.36pm: Question on mergers-what the feeling is among administration staff.

Answer: Important to get communities negotiating for campaigns that are specific to them.

1.31pm: Question: One thing that has been controversial is tactics- what kind of tactics do trade unions use. Asks for advice on tactics for lobbying against government cuts. Answer: Making use of what’s on offer. Attracting younger/new members by only charging 50p per month. Travelling around universities, high schools, etc, and talking to more young people.

1.30pm: Peter Hughes: Working with modern technology- goes against stereotypes of trade unions- dedicated teams trying to attract younger members.

1.29pm: Liam Burns adds: People can learn from the trade union movement- how they treat all members as equals.

1.27pm: Second question: Growing up with trade unions and the negative press around them. Wonders if everyone realises the benefit of being part of a union. Peter Hughes responds: “Last thing we ever want to do is go on strike but there is still negative press.” Benefits listed- less likely to be injured in a unionised work place.

1.25pm: Peter Hughes: Employment prospects/lack of. Invites questions. Question made on the minimum wage and the actions being taken to improve it. Peter Hughes responds: will be action- marches, etc. Students seen as vulnerable which is why the minimum wage is still an issue.

1.23pm: Peter Hughes: “All about sticking together. Nothing will get done if you don’t work together.” Mentions the current minimum wage and asks attendees what difference they will make to improve things for themselves.

1.20pm: Peter Hughes: Discusses the trade union movement. Asks how many work to pay for their tuition fees and how many are in a trade union.

1.19pm: Guest speaker Peter Hughes (Unite) being introduced.

1.18pm: Vote being made to support the plan for next year. None against, one abstention- report passes.

1.17pm: Luke Young answering a question on students’ union funding- “has to be a priority this year”.

1.15pm: Question to Luke Young on a lack of attendance at a meeting. “Circumstances that could not be avoided”- interested to know where the question has come from as says he has been a keen supporter- attending majority of meetings around Wales.

1.14pm: Submitted questions being read. First question to Luke Young, asks what he has done for liberation campaigns in Wales. Replies: Liberation campaigns come to him with requests and decide what they want to do themselves.

1.12pm:  NUS Wales Deputy President Raechel Mattey giving her report.

1.10pm: Luke Young going over the report and plan. Funding council agreed to guide students in HE. Cross-sector agreement signed by VC’s, Welsh Assembly Government, etc.

1.07pm: NUS UK President Liam Burns is chairing the conference. Wants to know if any ghosts have been sighted. (Gregynog is haunted apparently!)

1.02pm: Luke Young: “Cannot leave the future of our education system to the Cardiff Bay bubble”. First students to pay £9000 per year will step on to campus this year. Whether they choose to study in Wales, the expectations of standards of education will have shifted dramatically. Mentions the loss of EMA in England. “We can stand up to the right for an education in this country.”

1pm: Luke Young giving opening speech. Discusses the challenges faced since last meeting. “Must not become complacent.” “Yet to be convinced” that the student voice is listened to by all. Would like to take the opportunity to the officers across Wales “who have done outstanding things throughout the year”.

12.55pm: Everyone taking their seats! Running though basic info and policies that will be in place at the event.