Liam Burns has been re-elected as the President of the National Union of Students (NUS), seeing off multiple challengers in a hard fought campaign.
Mr Burns received 57 per cent of the vote, defeating Ed Marsh (NUS Vice President) who obtained 43 per cent of the vote. In a statement Mr Burns said: “I am delighted students have put their trust in me and re-elected a second term.”
Robin Parker of NUS Scotland moved to congratulate Mr Burns on securing victory stating: “It's a testament to Liam's past achievements as President of NUS Scotland, as well as his more recent work at NUSUK, that students have continued to show faith in his leadership.”
Mr Parker also expressed his delight at the strong influence of Scottish student unions on the national stage, explaining: “This is the most Scottish delegates to run for NUSUK positions than we've seen in some time, and reflects the number of talented student representatives and campaigners that Scotland is lucky to be home to.”
In a separate election Robin Parker was re-elected president of NUS Scotland seeing off a challenge from Strathclyde Student’s Union president, Charandeep Singh.
Speaking to The Journal Mr Parker said: "I'm honoured to get the opportunity to carry on working alongside people who have just been inspirational in the last year.
"There's no doubt about it, a lot of this year has been measured in terms of the passion, commitment, and dedication that student campaigns have put in, and that's the best thing about getting to rerun, and getting to do the job again - you get to work alongside those people.”
Mr Parker also moved to congratulate the challenge from Mr Singh saying: "A lot of credit to Charandeep for running a very positive campaign, [he] put forward a lot of good ideas for how NUS Scotland goes forward, and it'll be good to meet up with him once things have died away and talk about some of the good ideas in [his manifesto].”
The elections mean that both incumbents will remain in office until 2013, both pledge to continue the fight against cuts to higher education and to promote student involvement in politics through the ‘Voice Your Vote’ campaign.
The presidential election took place during the annual NUS conference in Sheffield, which passed a number of initiatives. Speaking after re-election Liam Burns stated that it was vital to continue the fight against fees and cuts to higher education:
“With the government’s abandonment of the proposed higher education bill, scrapping of EMA, and presiding over record youth unemployment, so many of their wrong headed reforms are taking place behind the scenes and we will continue to vigorously contest them out in the open.”
In one campaign, the union urged vice-chancellors and businesses to invest in the new NUS programme to give support for fair access to higher education.
Mr Burns argued that the chancellors had “no excuse” not to contribute to the fund given the tax break received in the latest budget: “The government has increased fees and cut taxes, so that the average undergraduate will face thousands more every year in fees, while the average vice-chancellor will be paying £3000 less every year in tax.” Mr Burns claimed that as a result of this close to a million pounds could be raised each year.
The proposal has been piloted by the NUS with student unions organising outreach activities, but the new proposal is said to be more substantial than existing plans.
However, support from vice-chancellors for the proposal has been limited. Brian Cantor, University of York Vice-Chancellor, has already ruled himself out of any contribution despite critics stating that Mr Cantor earned £258,473 last year including employers’ contributions to the USS pension scheme.
A spokesperson for the University explained: “The Vice-Chancellor will be making, as usual, a substantial personal donation to the University of York during 2012-13, and therefore declines to support this cause, worthy as it is.”
In addition to this, the conference also voted for a NUS national demonstration in London next year to oppose government higher education policy, the first of such events since 2010. A vote also passed to condemn police tactics at the national ‘Campaign against Fees and Cuts’ demonstration last year.