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Kat Fletcher Re-Elected as NUS President

The National Union of Students (NUS) has re-elected former General Secretary of the Sheffield College Student’s Union, Kat Fletcher, as its president with an overwhelming majority at the recent annual NUS conference in Blackpool.

The 25-year-old from Sheffield is only the sixth woman to preside over the NUS, though she is the Union’s 50th president.

Fletcher is a recent graduate of Leeds University with a degree in Social Policy, but her experience goes far beyond theory.

Indeed, she took two years out of her studies to act as the NUS’s National Women’s Officer from 2001 – 2002, has been an active member of the NUS National Executive Committee and was General Secretary of the Sheffield College Student’s Union. Fletcher is also a founding member of the Campaign for Free Education (CFE).

First Term and the Future

During her first term, Fletcher launched a new code of standards for university accommodation, along with a scheme to protect students from dishonest landlords. She has also successfully lobbied to have the maximum age for student loans raised, and has petitioned (with positive results) to extend the child and welfare benefit to individuals up to 19 years of age. Fletcher’s administration has also introduced the NUS education manifesto to make the aims and policy of the NUS transparent and accessible.

Fletcher will need to draw on these experiences and accomplishments in order to tackle the obstacles the NUS faces in this, her second term. Beyond the financial difficulties of the union (struggling under the weight of a £500,000 deficit) there is internal disagreement between the Union’s members. Some member-unions are threatening disaffiliation, partly due to the rising NUS affiliation costs, the Union’s contentious stance on “top-up” tuition fees and persistent complaints of inadequate representation for particular member- unions.

Despite these looming challenges Fletcher remains confident for the future of NUS. Taking her momentous victory as clear encouragement, the president will move to extend her primary mandate of widespread organisational reform while advancing the fight for a free and accessible education system.

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