President re-elected by NUS

March 30, 2001

The National Union of Students this week re-elected its independent president and called for an end to upfront tuition fees, the introduction of targeted maintenance grants and a Cubie-style review in England.

At its national conference in Blackpool, the NUS supported president Owain James against leftwing challenger Helen Aspell by a margin of 602 to 3. The election was rife with allegations of sexist and homophobic abuse, intimidation, and rigging.

Ms Aspell was assaulted on Tuesday night while returning to her hotel.

Delegates supported calls for a study of student finance, along the lines of Scotland's Cubie review. The post-Cubie settlement has seen Scottish students exempted from upfront tuition fees and eligible for bursaries.

Deep divisions within the student movement were highlighted. Amendments calling for free education for all, paid for by higher taxation, fell in a tempestuous debate.

Seeking to heal the rifts, Mr James said: "It is incredibly important that we adopt a united strategy in the run-up to the general election."

Mandy Telford, president of NUS Scotland, made an impassioned plea for England to follow Scotland's example.

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