Matt Hyde will leave the NUS in April 2013 after six years leading the union during some of the biggest upheavals the higher education sector has ever seen.
Mr Hyde will take up his new position as chief executive of the Scout Association on 29 April, replacing Derek Twine, who is retiring from the post after 16 years of service.
An NUS spokesman said Mr Hyde had helped deliver campaigns that had “saved students hundreds of millions of pounds” while also helping to “significantly increased membership satisfaction and reduced reliance on affiliation fees”.
“These achievements were underpinned by a financial turnaround, an award-winning programme of governance reform and the development of cutting-edge, digital campaigning,” the spokesman said.
Mr Hyde said it had been a “huge privilege” to serve as chief executive “and to have worked to change students’ lives and champion strong students’ unions over the past six years”.
He added: “In this, the NUS’ ninetieth year, I feel particularly fortunate to have made a contribution to an organisation with such a long and proud history of defending, extending and promoting the rights of students.”
Liam Burns, the NUS president, said: “Matt has had an absolutely transformational impact on NUS since he joined in 2006 and has played a hugely significant role in the student movement, winning the respect and trust of staff and students alike.”