The result was announced today, following a ballot of delegates at the NUS national conference in Sheffield.
In addition, a heated discussion about the NUS’ approach to the reforms proposed in the government's White Paper led to a vote in favour of calling for the resignation of David Willetts, the universities and science minister. The conference delegates also voted to hold a national demonstration against the government’s reforms in the first term of the 2012-13 academic year.
The election, conducted under the alternative vote system, ran to four rounds, with Mr Burns and Ed Marsh the two remaining candidates in the final round.
Mr Burns gained 387 of 720 votes in the fourth round.
Mr Marsh had won grassroots support for his campaign, largely due to his time spent as vice-president for union development.
Mr Burns’ manifesto said that it was not enough to focus on “the students of today”, instead calling for the union to take a more long-term view of what could be achieved for students in the future.
“When successive governments seek to sell off our education and cut in all the wrong places, it’s time we paint a very different picture of what education could look like,” he said.
“A picture that ends student poverty, transcends the artificial divides we create between HE and FE and delivers on youth employment. A picture that puts students and students’ unions in the driving seat.”
The final ballot saw only four of the five candidates stand for election. Claire Locke, currently president of London Metropolitan Students’ Union, dropped out yesterday citing a clash with a job interview.
Speaking at the presidential hustings in Sheffield, Mr Burns said he was “more than proud” of the NUS but criticised “shameless electioneering” that led to debate on the future of education being “crudely boiled down to a few buzzwords”.
“Getting more cash into students’ pockets must be a priority,” he said.
“But it must be the right students, those who need it most.
“We’re sick of walking on to campuses and hearing about the latest student to drop out - another opportunity lost.”