The University of Lincoln's Student Union (ULSU) has chosen to disaffiliate from the National Union of Students (NUS) following a Student Union referendum held on 9 May. In a close vote, 881 students chose to disaffiliate from the NUS, compared with 804 who chose to remain affiliated.
The referendum came weeks after the NUS elected Malia Bouattia to be their next president, a move that sparked controversy among student groups. Bouattia faced heavy crticisim and allegations of anti-Semitism following her election. She has strongly denied the claims.
Despite stirring discussion among a number of student unions, ULSU confirmed that Bouattia's presidency was not a factor in their referendum. Instead, they noted that NUS officers were not "working in unity" and that had caused them to question whether their actions were for "their own political gain".
Speaking about the referendum results, ULSU President Hayley Jayne Wilkinson said: "As a group of elected officers, we no longer felt confident that the NUS represented the views of our students. We agreed it was necessary to ask our members themselves if they wanted to remain affiliated with the NUS. Our members have now told us through their votes in this referendum that they want to disaffiliate."
ULSU will formally disaffiliate from the NUS on 31 December 2016. The Student Union leaders have insisted that there will be no difference to their services to Lincoln University students. Voting was held between 3 May and 9 May, with only 12.6% of the student body voting.
Ahead of the referendum, a statement from ULSU said: "Four elected delegates of the University of Lincoln Students Union returned from the recent NUS conference disillusioned with the direction that NUS are taking the student movement. The fact that it is a national union and the officers themselves aren't working in unity lost their confidence on whether they will do anything of benefit to our members and not just actions for their own political gain."
Reacting to the news, current NUS National President, Megan Dunn, told the Independent: "We are particularly sorry this decision was made by such a small number of students, when it will affect everyone at Lincoln. There was a difference of only 77 votes, with 6.66% of all Lincoln students voting to leave, compared to 6% voting to stay."