Oxford joins Cambridge in turning down disaffiliationCreative Commons / Flickr: steinsky

The Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) will remain a member of the National Union of Students (NUS) after 57.1 per cent of voters in this week's referendum backed affiliation. 

3,409 votes were cast in favour of remaining a member of NUS, while 2,430 voted to leave. The margin of victory for the remain camp was 979 votes, more than three times what the margin was in Cambridge.

In total 5,975 votes were cast, representing a turnout of 27.7 per cent, just below the 28.8 per cent turnout in last week's Cambridge referendum. 

The referendum was announced on April 27th, after passing at OUSU Council, despite an attempted walk-out by opponents.

The motion expressed concerns about newly elected NUS President Malia Bouattia, who labelled her own Birmingham University as “something of a Zionist outpost”, and led the opposition to an NUS motion condemning ISIS.

‘The other place’ follow Cambridge in backing the NUS in today’s vote, as well as Exeter, Warwick, Surrey, and Essex. Referenda in Newcastle, Lincoln, and Hull saw students making the choice to disaffiliate.

But the vote has been surrounded by controversy, with both sides being criticised for electoral malpractice.

At New College, the JCR mailing list was used to circulate pro-NUS arguments, contrary to OUSU rules.

The broken OUSU election rulesCherwell

Becky Howe, leader of Yes to NUS and OUSU President said this was an “innocent mistake” and a spokesperson further distanced the Yes campaign from the mistake, saying: “the access rep in question was not on our mailing list, and likely not familiar with OUSU rules”.

The mailing list in question was sent a second email by Anna Mowbray, OUSU returning officer, detailing the arguments of the ‘No Thanks NUS’ side.

The NUS themselves also slipped up on this front, making use of their own cardholder list to circulate pro-NUS arguments, which is also banned.

An NUS spokesperson defended this position at first, claiming that they had  “a duty to inform card holder they will no longer be able to access this service should students vote for their union to disaffiliate”, but later an apology was sent out via the mailing list.

At Christ Church College both sides were found at fault. Louis McEvoy, a No Thanks NUS campaigner broke OUSU rules by campaigning in a closed group, the Christ Church JCR Facebook group. On the same day, No Thanks NUS posters were found ripped apart.

Although the campaign for a referendum was launched based on concerns about anti-Semitism, which centred on newly-elected NUS President Malia Bouattia, Oxford has been home to an ardently NUS-sceptic contingent since last year.

Indeed, it was David Klemperer, of the NUS-sceptic slate ‘Oh Well, Alright Then’, who proposed the motion for the referendum at OUSU Council.

'Oh Well, Alright Then' candidates looking bemusedVersa

As at other universities, the debate has pitted concerns about anti-Semitism against funding and support for liberation groups.

The Oxford University Jewish Society backed the No Thanks NUS campaign, with a Cherwell poll of over half of JSoc members suggesting support at 84%.

On the other hand, the Yes to NUS campaign received the backing of 'It Happens Here', who campaign against sexual violence and commented on the usefulness of resources that the NUS provides.

Though a number of universities have announced their results, Worcester, Loughborough, and York remain to be announced.