back to article Students Union reps vote to ban cheap booze for students

More politicians-gone-wild news today, as reports have it that Students' Union delegates have voted against cheap beer. The bizarro move took place at the annual conference of the National Union of Students (NUS) in Blackpool earlier this week. Delegates voted to start moves aimed at minimum pricing for alcohol in student …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "33rd most powerful..."

    I'm not sure whether to be more worried that he is "lesbian, gay, _and_ bisexual", or that there are at least 32 "more powerful" lesbian gay bisexuals walking our streets. That's powerful strange.

  2. Paul

    Hes Scum....

    Only because he is in the NUS to get a job as an MP, not to make things better for people. He clearly see's polotics as a career choice...

  3. Luis Ogando
    Thumb Up

    Totally Agree

    Bloody students should pay the same as the rest of us hard-working, tax-paying citizens. They complain endlessly about being skint and that their grant cheques should be bigger and more should be done for them, but they always shop in flipping Sainsbury's, buy Stella Feckin' Artois and sport state-of-the-art laptops!!!

    Bring back National Service and sort the scruffy, long-haired hooligans out!!

    <\pre-1970's rant>

  4. James Condron

    Bloody Facists

    Still, if nothing else gets the students off their arses, it'll surely be to fight for the right to get bladdered on a meagre student loan... Keeping in mind the number of students applying for emergency hardship loans to cover a cost of living rise are probably realising that whilst the Inflation Index/CPI includes prices for a bottle or Rose wine and rotisserie chicken, it does nothing for the price of take aways or lots of drink, which I figure to be more expensive.

    Cheap drink is all the poor buggers have left, take that away and more hardship loans are going to be need. That, or higher government grants- think about it, who, whilst a student, didn't drink their livers dead? Taking that away is surely not an option. Otherwise we're breeding a group of monsters all on Wacky Jacquie's wavelength, by 2020 we'll have government databases to monitor everything, from Deodorant usage, to toilet visits in the night per capita.

    It'll be bleeding Ben Elton's DegSep computer.

  5. Chris Collins

    Welcome, beloved leaders

    I for one welcome our new puritan overlords. I suggest closing the theatres and banning Christmas followed by sticking it to the Paddies. How does he manage to be lesbian, gay and bisexual at the same time?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    When I was at uni there had always been price and x for the price of y offer controls in Students' unions, unless the repealed them since I left uni circa '95. In fact I clearly recall one of the Students' unions that I used to work at getting into serious trouble with the National NUS for breaking these rules.

    Also, should he be the 33rd most powerfull _out_ Lesbian Gay or Bi person, quite important the out bit...

  7. Efros

    Once the grass roots

    get onto this chappie he'll be the exNUS pres. Students voting for expensive beer, quick check outside for overhead porkies.


  8. Adam

    Cut out for politics?

    "While coy about his political ambitions, he is already spoken of as a future Cabinet minister."

    As if that could happen!

    How do you expect someone is destined to be a Cabinet minister when they not only ignore the needs and wants of the people they represent, but actively pursue a policy completely contrary to these needs and wants.

    Oh, wait. Now I see.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The union here

    had about a 27% response in the last elections. This was a record turnout, and probably largely achieved by converting to an entirely web-based system and then repeatedly sending reminder emails for a week. Of course, while their "record turnout" figure is prominently displayed, I can't find any proper numerical breakdowns of the results. So, it's conveniently impossible to see how many individual votes were cast out of the possible tens of thousands available to cover all positions available, and see how many people were only voting for that guy they get drunk with to be activities officer and ignoring the rest.

  10. Thomas Jolliffe

    @Luis Ogando

    Grant cheques? GRANT?! Who are you kidding! Nobody gets a grant anymore mate!

    Now, on the Sainsbury's thing, I can get on board. How any student can manage to shop in that place and stay afloat is beyond me.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Career politicos need shooting the moment their intentions become clear.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is he doing a Masters in shooting yourself in the foot?

    The minute SUs start hiking their prices for bowze, all that's going to happen is that the students will decamp to their nearest Wetherhell/Tesco/Costcutter to take advantage of cheaper prices while maintaining their consumption, plunging the SUs into a profit shortfall and ultimate closure (or trip to the Government with the begging bowl out).

    Unless, of course, that's his plan all along...

  13. AndyC

    Thinking of the student bars at least...

    Well, this will sink a couple to say the least. Lancaster Uni previously had 9 bars on campus (one for each college - 2 now combined into 1 thanks to rebuilding) and 4 of these are now controlled by the Catering department. These bunch of pillocks already set stupid prices and policies that have allowed the actuall bars in Lancaster to become cheaper over the years. Add in the fact that the Student Union are supporting the minimum price points, I can see another round of protests, boycotting and moaning resulting in the the Uni Licencee's getting pressed to the wall even more (they are already under pressure to maintain minimum sales and quotas which have been increasing despite spending by students decreasing).

    Friends with a few of the licencees and used to work there - now just a bar fly...

    And again, how can he be all three?? That just makes no sense...

  14. Yorkshirepudding


    they want to stop cheap beer for students? heretics i say burn them! as a once mostly sober student we looked forward to cheap friday night at the union where carling was £1 a pint of it was rubbish but it did the job

  15. Edward Miles


    the student union bar has not been the cheapest place to drink at any time during my stay at uni, so them putting up the prices in their really isn't going to reduce drinking in any university town with more than one pub!

  16. D@v3


    judging by this statement:

    He was listed as the 33rd most powerful lesbian, gay and bisexual person in British politics

    are we to believe this man is a lesbian, and gay, and bisexual? (that really is just greedy) and that there at least 32 others of the same (confused and greedy) lifestyle in British poitics

    (to any one who is going to argue the L/G/B is *not* a liffestyle choice, im not disagreeing, just couldnt think of a better word)

  17. Lionel Baden

    Wut !!!??

    his ability to beat his opponents into submission using only the force of his ....

    I mean common If that isnt the most overtly sexual descriptions possible

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Funny who you've linked to ...

    Your reference to Imperial College Union for 'high' student turnout is quite funny, as it isn't a member of the NUS and so played no part in this decision at all.

  19. Paul


    Why do they hate natural selection so? :(

  20. Steven Jones

    Too late

    Missed the deadline for April fools day did we? Students voting to make booze more expensive and we are expected to believe that...

    However, to be serious, it is exactly this sort of playground where budding politicans practice their control-freakery. The likes of Jack Straw and Trevor Phillips came up exactly that way. The latter I remember as the head of Imperial College student union leading what was then called "the broad left" (essentially a bunch going from soft Fabians through various stages of other-worldy Marxists and Trots with the odd true loony like Piers Corbyn to round it all off).

    The IC studen base, being full of engineers, was far more interested in cheap beer than posturing politicians. But one thing would have never happened - and that was Trevor Phillips arguing for more expensive beer. The rugby and rowing fraternity would have chucked him in the Serpentine.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wes Streeting needs extra help

    To be elected for government he needs a little extra thing.

    Not only does he need to think that his choices should overrule their choices, even when he can't make a case and is simply suggesting they are too dumb to make their own decisions.... No, he needs to *also* think, that the rule doesn't apply to him.

    You know like how Jacqui wants to have CCTVs in our homes (well actually she wants a way to remotely grab skype webcam and audio data from our homes but it's the same thing) but gets all pissy when people want to see the torture documents, or her expenses claims...

    He needs to work on that special 'I am special I am Emperor Wes and these rules don't apply to me' attitude and then give himself special exemption.... sort of 'plebs pay £3 for a pint but I pay 30p' attitude.

    (It's a boring Friday)

  22. SkippyBing

    He's 26!!!

    Shouldn't he get a proper job or something?

  23. TeeCee Gold badge

    WTF? Indeed!

    As I remember, the only reason for bothering to get a SU card was that they wouldn't let you into the cheap bar without one. But then I'm the sort of person who quite deliberately banked with Barclays at the time, purely because it made the sanctimonious bastards in the Union really pissed off.

    He's a turkey and he's just voted for Christmas.

    I sense a disturbance in the Force. As if millions of voices all cried out "YOU USELESS GIT!" together and were then suddenly silenced.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    As I recall...

    ...from my uni days; the only topic guaranteed to get more than a 20% voting turnout was what brewery the SU bar should buy from. Though there was the time a group of hearty types campaigned to rename the SU bar after Kylie as she was more relevant to most students than the existing honoree - that caused the right-on types a huge flurry of activity to stop it going through.

    Which suggests exactly as others have said - Streeter is probably foreseeing a future in which he succeeds Peter Mandelson.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    33rd most powerful

    "He was listed as the 33rd most powerful lesbian, gay and bisexual person in British politics this month"

    Yeah, but after the first 32 there is a real drop off. That fictional welsh bloke off of Little Britain is the 34th. What people (students mainly) seem to forget is that nobody cares about students, student demonstrations, student poverty and especially student politics. The reason has to do with the fact that those in power now realise that their naive and idealistic attitudes from their Uni days are just that: naive and idealistic.

  26. Chris Pearson
    Thumb Down

    18 percent

    We managed a massive 8% one year at Bournemouth. The pres had right rant about it which was productive....

    During my time at uni it was clear the union was completely out of touch with reality. If I could have realistically not been a member I would have opted out but seeing as the union ID is your Uni ID that makes things some what difficult.

    Although the vote to ban smoking was funny. I worked in the union and every smoker who moaned was asked if they voted: all bar 1 said they didn't even know there was a vote.

  27. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Cheap beer

    As far as I remember (and it gets more difficult as time goes by), student bars still buy their beer from brewers, at whatever price the brewers charge. There is no difference in duty charged, and many colleges use profits from the bar to generate money that gets spent on other subsidised activities.

    About the only scope I can see for beer being cheap is that they probably do not pay rent, rates or energy costs (these will be soaked up by the college or Union), and that the staff work for peanuts, or at least beer money.

    So, as pointed out, where is there scope for significant price reductions over places like Wetherspoons. Setting a price above what is paid outside the college will just reduce the use of the college bars, at least in colleges in large towns and cities.

    What happens in out-of-town colleges like Lampeter or Keele is a different matter, and one that it may not be safe to pry into!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Homer say:

    "Someone's sucked the life out of these kids, and I bet it's some stuffed-shirt dean!"

  29. Matt B
    Thumb Up


    Nice to see an excellent post from someone who is representing down-to-earth, normal, hard working, sensible, law abiding, tax paying, normal, hard working, honourable, decent, reasonable people - British people!!

  30. Anonymous Coward

    As a student waster type.....

    You would be surprised to hear that a while back a bar on my uni campus went completely bust. The student council voted to close it down after it went thirty grand in debt, the bar was managed on behalf of the student union by an outside company . Now in that building there is a Spar shop that is raking it in with hot lunches and a late night cafe [that kept the drinks license]. it probably did not help that we had an alcohol policy at the time that was set up between the university and the students union, where alcohol promotion was banned. The policy was voted out due to the university failing to keep their end of the agreement. [student politics sometimes works]

    We also found that promising lolly pops generally boosted voter turn out for elections.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NUS Representatives Out Of Touch

    I used to be on the student council in my first and second year, and it's fair to say...that I spent most of my time voting against stupid ideas from anoraks that were totally out of touch with the real world and what students actually want. The council was made up of Anoraks, Gays and Lesbians, Your Campaigning for the Sake of Campaigning Nut Jobs...and me. Totally unrepresentative.

    Then...the NUS representative, tended to belong to all three groups.

  32. PaulK
    Thumb Down

    Our country is in deep doodoo

    If this is the calibre of what our universities are producing, UK PLC is fect. It is simply bizarre that a student would vote for more expensive booze.

  33. Smallbrainfield
    Thumb Down

    The description of this guy makes my skin crawl

    Career politicians should be sent to a remote island to argue amongst themselves.

    When I was at Sheffield Polytechnic, going back a few years here, you could get leathered for a few quid at the union bar. It was the cheapest place in town. I seem to recall Huddersfield and Leeds had similar establishments, where knowing the right person could often lead to a night of free or at least very very cheap drinking. The beer was in plastic glasses and the floors were sticky, but at the time it was the best place in the world.

    It's a shame that cavalier attitude is going, but that's progress I suppose. I am genuinely saddened by this turn of events.

  34. Michael

    @ Edward Miles

    I agree. Most of the bars here are either priced exactly like the normal pubs in town, and so are more expensive than the likes of wetherspoons. The only exception is when they run a promotion, at which point the prices can drop by 50% or more as long as you're buying 4 pints of shit lager or a round of tequila shots. The only reason they stay solvent is that this is a campus, and people can't be arsed with a walk/bus into town.

  35. Richard L

    President of NUS?

    Isn't this a training ground for labour MPs.

    From when I was at uni in the mid nineties the national presidents were Stephen Twigg, Lorna Fitzsimmons, and Derek Trainer - all of whom were exemplary labour MPs.

    Apologies for the vulgar abuse at the end of the previous sentence.

  36. David Evans
    Thumb Down

    What a dick

    Proof if it was needed that anyone who wants to be in politics should automatically be disbarred from office. Universities would be the ideal place to try new democratic models (like picking students at random) rather than encouraging the kind of tossers who love interfering in everyone else's lives.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    @Luis Ogando

    Easy, old-timer. Don't get worked into a lather.

    @Chris Collins - How does he manage to be lesbian, gay and bisexual at the same time?

    Simple. He takes turns being each one on a different day of the week instead of doing them all at once (which might get confusing).

  38. Dave

    lego man

    He looks like a lego man.

  39. Steve
    Thumb Down


    The students will go elsewhere to drink, which will rob the unions of the revenue they need to support students welfare which was their original purpose.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Shocking revelations

    As people above have said, shocking - shooting himself in the foot. If not for electoral indifference, would have never got elected with that in his manifesto. I guess he'll say it's all for the Greater Good. I guess he *will* fit right in the Cabinet.

    Perhaps he is getting a kickback from the nearby pubs that have seen a decline in numbers?

    I was a student myself not too long ago (~5 yrs ago), and drinking (at times, rather heavily) has always been a part of student life - just like acting silly, sleeping through boring statistics classes, having every hot girl on campus, and then finishing work just before the deadline.

    Come on, things don't change - and students will always be students!

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Richard L

    ... don't forget Phil 'Rivers Of Blood' Woolas, who also held the 'office' at the end of the 80's; a tit then and a tit now (albeit saggier).

  42. Paul

    clearly a inside job

    Smart fella (if not likeable): he has what, a year (?) in office, and after that he's not a student anymore. So he's alright, Jack. Then, with his brownie-points for having advanced the government's media-responsive anti-drink policies will have proved his colours, we can expect to see him get a research job inside Parliament, or even standing as a prospective MP. Is it in his interests to make things easier for students? Is it heck.

  43. Brain

    the memories!

    Ahh the memories of cheap student union drinks and the fun times that ensued. :-) I can't imagine anyone ever successfully changing that culture here in the UK.

  44. chris

    Voter turnout

    I've just left York Uni, we had a record turnout for the student elections last year.

    We all voted for someone dresses as a pirate.

    I think this says everything you need to know about how seriously we should take student politics

  45. Colony

    Not like it'll make any difference

    Students nowadays don't drink at all anyway, they're all too busy buying overpriced coffee from Costa and sitting on Facebook all day. They think it's strange if you ever go for a lunchtime pint, let alone 3 or 4 times in one week, it makes me sick sometimes.

    You'll also get odd looks if you dare to show up at the bar at 11am hoping for a nice pint at the same time as they're buying tea or coffee.

  46. ratfox
    Thumb Down

    And people wonder why I am anti-union

    Honestly, when that is the best union leaders can come up with...

    It is a huge problem of society that it is possible for a small percentage

    of fanatic zealots to take decisions with which the large majority disagrees,

    but simply did not bother to show up. Yes, sometimes unions are useful;

    but the leaders are too often self-important pricks who believe in ruling

    the masses for their own good. Here is a typical example. /rant

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Thank goodness

    I graduated nearly 20 years ago.

  48. Vincent Ballard

    Student politics

    Anonymous Coward wrote: "What people (students mainly) seem to forget is that nobody cares about students, student demonstrations, student poverty and especially student politics."

    You missed a word: s/students mainly/student politicians mainly/. Most ordinary students side with the rest of the world in not caring about student demos and politics.

  49. Alfonso Vespucci

    Bloody Quisling

    But at 26 isn't he a too old to become a minister in the next Labour government?

  50. Throatwobbler Mangrove Silver badge

    a lot of mixed messages here

    are uni bars cheap or are they as expensive as everywhere else?

    do the SUs run them or are there private licensees?

    As an ex-student, I have to say that I am not entirely convinced that SUs should be running bars. OK, it might offset some of the social/sports activities, but it's not as if there isn't a thriving alcohol supply across the UK. Also - think of the hidden costs of all that booze consumption.

    On a practical level - I am not sure if the NUS's policy is legal - would this be considered price fixing (it's between a whole bunch of independent legal entities) or is it more like price standardisation (where McD's has a uniform price for a Big Mac across the UK)?

  51. alan buxey

    down with the union

    when i was at Sussex Uni, every year a motion was brought forward to not pay the NUS

    affiliation fee... it was always voted down primarily because of the 'we get cheap drinks'

    argument.. with no cheap drinks I can see many bodies dropping their NUS affiliation.

    that said, when I was at Uni, the Uni bars werent cheap - you could go into town (Brighton)

    and get far more drink for your cash.. 2 for 1, half price, free shot with every pint etc etc.

    yes, there was very cheap drink when i was a student - at least 1 quid per pint - and yet we didnt have issues with binge drinking in the early nineties as we seem to have now (or is it all just media hype?) - its not cheap drink..drink isnt that cheap (reports have said cocaine is cheaper ;-) )

    theres a _reason_ why people are drinking themselves into stupors every wekeend in the UK - because life int he UK is currently quite sh*t and theres nothing better to do for a large proportion of the population.

    history teaches us lessons. if we dont learn from history what hope do we have? not that long ago a similar portion of the population used to wpend their free hours in gin houses drinking the cheapest mind-bending stuff they could. those 2 were the days when the poor were porr and the rich were very rich and thousands died of curable illnesses. ah yes, and now its 2009 and its all the same again.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Thankfully I'm attendng a university that is not a member of the NUS (it was voted a waste of money years ago as we have our own union and CHESS to fall back on).

    Though the union bars tend to fund other activites so having students go elsewhere for cheep drink is probably not a wise move...

  53. jason
    Thumb Down

    Ahh well.....

    ....drinking expensive booze whilst getting a worthless degree.

    Things arent what they were.

    If the graduates that I get to meet are anything to go by, booze damaging their brains is the least of their worries. It appears that all graduates seem to undergo some form of lobotomy whilst at Uni.

    Please can we go back to just having the bright kids going to Uni?

  54. Gregor
    IT Angle

    Just another reason

    I'm exceedingly happy that my Student Association is not a part of the NUS.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not surprised

    ....and unsurprisingly students stay away from student politics these days because chancellors are not afraid to rusticate students seen as politically difficult. The general vibe seems to be that whilst things aren't good, they could be made a lot worse if the politically/commecially minded Uni chancellors were minded. Student unions are also increasingly toothless and apolitical, actively discouraging members from political involvement.

    One of the problems was always that the more mainstream membership wouldn't get involved in SU democratic process, hence the rise of loony left and right within such organisations.

  56. Charles Manning

    Microbiology experiment

    Just watch for an increase in microbiology experiments (aka home brewing).

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The NuLab Nanny infection is evidently spreading ever further down the food chain. Glad I got my studenting in when getting hog-whimpering pissed was de rigeur rather than finger-wagging bad.

  58. Arnold Layne

    Shame on Maggie Thatcher...

    ...for not stopping compulsory membership of the students' union back in the 80's when she had the chance. Curious how alI the loud mouth politicos then ranted on about freedom but wouldn't give students freedom of choice to join.

    A guaranteed income stream with no effort required establishes the freeloading mentality that career politicians exploit for as long as they are able. Woolas is a case in point: When I was at Manchester in the 80's he was active in the union and living off tax payer's hard work with nothing to show for it and continues to do so now. Scum, the lot of them.

  59. Anonymous Coward


    "Our country is in deep doodoo

    By PaulK Posted Friday 3rd April 2009 13:51 GMT

    If this is the calibre of what our universities are producing, UK PLC is fect. It is simply bizarre that a student would vote for more expensive booze."

    I know the Register doesn’t have an "Irony" icon but you could have used the joke icon to draw attention to your deliberately shocking grammar!

  60. Anonymous Coward

    If by majority of delegates, you mean the organised party factions...

    You need to understand that NUS politics is dominated by the major parties. Non Labourites were absolutely fuming at the decision.

    News has it that an emergency national conference is in the works to overturn the policy, something on which the right and left is united. This will leave the national executive looking rather silly.

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