Aaron Porter, who was elected to lead the union last spring, confirmed that he would not stand for re-election at the union’s national conference in April.
In a statement released today, Mr Porter says he believes the NUS needs “reinvigorating” and that he made the decision “after considerable soul-searching”.
“I believe there needs to be a new president to lead the student movement into the next phase. As a result, I’ve resolved not to seek re-election at national conference this year,” he says.
He describes the government’s decision to raise the cap on fees to £9,000 from 2012 as “a tragedy”.
“The government’s decision to treble tuition fees was a bitter pill to swallow – and whilst a number of concessions were secured, notably for part-time students as well as an increased threshold of repayment for all graduates, this was still not the outcome we wanted,” he writes.
“Thousands of students will now decide that higher education is not for them – and the ones that do get to go will be plunged into an era of market chaos. It’s a tragedy – and one that requires relentless pressure, both locally and nationally, to ensure that it is exposed and replaced with something better as soon as possible.”
Mr Porter was facing leadership challenges from opponents who called for a fresh wave of student mobilisation.
Members of the Education Activist Network and the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts have pledged to stand for leadership posts under a “united Left” slate.
The groups, which are behind many recent protests and occupations, accused Mr Porter of failing to mount tough opposition to rising tuition fees and funding cuts.