AMSU Conference – What’s not to like?

June 28, 2009

amsulogoAs Jaki and I walked towards our car to head for home after the AMSU conference, Jaki said “ Why would anyone not think that was a great conference?”

It’s a very good question.

There were a number of very strong sessions from both external speakers and student union professionals.  There was a fantastic, friendly and relaxed atmosphere where people from a host of different jobs in students union and NUS mixed well and discussed some of the interesting ideas and issues that are important to us.

It was a chance to see a very good Union show us what they can do ( well done all at Brunel).

A very decent and thoughtful debate about the future of AMSU conducted in a way rarely found anywhere, with people speaking openly as friends who respect each other and really listening and taking on board points that were made.

There were some outstanding keynotes including from Brunel’s VC, the CEO of NCVO and the legend that is Heinz Wolff.  Actually Matt Hyde and I speculated about what Prof Wolff would be likely to say of relevance to the student movement.  We underestimated the man. He raised some of the most interesting ideas of great relevance to the student movement we had all week.  I found his ideas about finding new means of exchange for social goods like health support and volunteering had a strong resonance with ideas put forward by the Chair of the NUSSL E&E committee a couple of weeks ago.

The biggest problem the conference has, is that some of the leading figures in the profession just aren’t there to contribute and to discuss.

Next year we are going to have some trustees, some American Union professionals , some great new ideas including, I understand, the possibility of a stream of unconventionally structured sessions,  and as always a host of people new to the profession and developing their careers bringing challenge and vitality.

What’s not to like?

I suspect that AMSU is a bit like some people’s attitude to Radio 2.  People think that it’s not for them because they are thinking about it as it existed years ago, when their parents listened to it.

Radio 2 has moved on and so has AMSU conference.

It’s a place to raise your sights and broaden your vision. It should be the place where student union professionals process a host of ideas, drivers and experiences from inside students unions and  from the wider world and discuss what all of it means to us.

If a few more of our distinguished colleagues joined the party it could turn an already excellent event into something really remarkable. Come on guys we would love to have you join in, stop making excuses and make it a priority to help lead your profession.

See you next year?


One comment

  1. Totally agree. This was actually my first AMSU as a presenter (“Knowing Your Students” session).
    I’ve been to a lot of professional body conferences and was both pleased and disappointed by AMSU.
    Pleased because the quality of the sessions was excellent (will leave others to judge mine), and the levels of interest and engagement were really exciting – I came to deliver one presentation, but ended up staying for most of the day!
    Disappointed because many of the Students’ Union leaders who I know, personally, to be professional, progressive, pro-active types weren’t there. One can sympathise with the pressures SU managers are under, but to miss such a valuable opportunity for learning, thinking and exploring with fellow professionals is a real shame.
    Thanks to all at AMSU and Brunel for a very well run event, and to all the participants for taking time out from ‘doing’ for a bit of ‘thinking’.

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