Last Thursday and Friday students at the University of Leicester bucked the trend for referenda this year and voted to remain in the NUS. Remain won the referendum by a fairly substantial margin, garnering 68.8% of the vote compared to Leave’s 31.2%. This means that Remain received over double the votes Leave did.
Perhaps a slight caveat on Remain’s victory is that the turnout for the referendum was very low. For a referendum of this nature at least 1198 votes needed to be cast for the result to be binding. Only 1200 votes were cast in total so it’s clear that more needs to be done to raise the profile of the NUS.
Both sides of the debate have since released statements regarding the results. Student Union President and the head of the Remain campaign, Rachel Holland, was understandably pleased with the result but did pledge that ‘Leicester Union has voted for a National Union, but this isn’t a vote for business as usual. It’s a vote for things to change.’
The Leave campaign too released a statement about the result of the referendum. They stated that ‘We do not see this as a vote for the NUS in its current form. The remain campaign put a lot of emphasis on the need for and ability to implement reform, and we expect both those within the campaign and the NUS itself to keep to their promises for this.’ The campaign has promised to keep pushing for reform in the NUS.
It’s clear that while students want Leicester to remain affiliated with the NUS there are major changes needed to the organisation. The organisation has been fraught with controversy recently and a number of universities have voted to leave the NUS. The debate now turns to what changes to the NUS can be made are and how these changes are implemented.