The NUS affiliation row courted controversy on both sideswikicommons: Benjamin Evans

The University of Exeter has voted to remain in the National Union of Students (NUS), following a controversy-filled campaign.

In a record-breaking turnout of over 5,000 votes, the campaign to remain won by a margin of 5.6 per cent.

The referendum was conducted by Exeter’s Students’ Guild using a “Student Ideas” system, with students voting on the motion: “The Guild should disaffiliate from the National Union of Students”. The nature of this system meant that they could vote either: “strongly disagree,” “disagree,” “neutral,” “agree,” “strongly agree,” or even “confused”.

Exeter’s campaign had been marred by controversy, including allegations made on the anonymous app YikYak that campaigners had made a student “uncomfortable” by visiting their flat unannounced in an attempt to persuade them to vote to stay.   

However, on Friday, a spokesperson for Exeter Students’ Guild said: “We have had no student complaints around harassment and intimidation.”

In a statement released after the result was announced, the president of Exeter’s Students’ Guild, Laura-Jane Tiley, said: “We firmly believe that the interests of Exeter Students are best served by being part of the NUS.”

“Like the leave campaign we do believe that the NUS needs to change, but that the best way of doing this is to remain a part of the organisation,” she added.

Exeter’s vote to remain in the NUS comes after Newcastle and Lincoln’s student unions voted to leave the organisation this week, and after Surrey’s Students’ Union voted to stay affiliated.

Other student unions with upcoming votes on disaffiliation include Oxford, Warwick, York, Hull, Worcester, and Loughborough.

Campaigning has begun for Cambridge’s referendum on whether CUSU should remain affiliated to the NUS. Voting will open at 9am on the 24th May, and will remain open until 4pm on the 27th.

For more information on the CUSU NUS referendum read Varsity's guide to everything you need to know before polling day, and take Varsity's referendum survey here

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