NUS disaffiliation campaigns gaining momentum

Yesterday, students at the University of Newcastle overwhelmingly voted to leave the National Union of Students (NUS).

This news comes only days after the University of Lincoln Students’ Union announced it was leaving the NUS, after students voted 881 to 804 to leave.

These results are a damming indictment of NUS President-elect, Malia Bouattia, whose campaign last month was marred by allegations of antisemitism.

There has been a sizeable backlash to Bouattia’s victory, with students’ unions at Oxford, Cambridge, Hull and Warwick universities set to hold referenda on disaffiliation this month.

Meanwhile, Student Rights understands that at least 15 other votes are planned at universities across the country.

Polls also closed at midnight at the University of Exeter, with a result swiftly announced in the early hours of this morning.

Despite a persistent lead throughout the two week campaign, ‘Exiter’ narrowly lost by 144 votes, on a turnout of 30 percent.

This represents a significant swing since Exeter’s last NUS referendum in December 2014, when the pro-NUS side won with a landslide 78 percent of the vote.

Students at the University of Surrey also voted to remain in the NUS.

Despite these victories for the NUS, there appears to be an increasing numbers of students that feel unrepresented by the organisation.

In part, this is due to the links between extreme groups and some NUS officers, which Student Rights has long documented.

Paul Rota, a student from the University of Exeter, told his student paper:

“We see NUS officers working with extremist group CAGE – a group who supported Jihadi John; we see the No-Platforming of LGBTQ+ and anti-racism activists Peter Tatchell and Hope Not Hate; we see the NUS spending tens of thousands of student money campaigning against the Liberal Democrats. And all the while, the NUS have been deliberately and maliciously blocking ‘One Person One Vote’, the one motion that would bring true democracy to the NUS.”

Student Rights will continue monitoring the activity of the NUS and the disaffiliation campaigns. Regardless of this week’s results, it is refreshing to see the NUS’ record scrutinised – for too long NUS officers’ links to extremist groups and their history of inflammatory language has gone unchallenged.

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