Larissa Kennedy has been elected president of the National Union of Students (NUS) – the first in the organisation’s history to be elected through an online contest.
Kennedy will begin her tenure on Wednesday 1 July and remain in post until 2022.
Voting was open to 676 delegates from NUS member students’ unions and turnout was 80%.
Hillary Gyebi-Ababio and Salsabeel Emegri have been elected vice-president for higher education and further education respectively.
The union – which celebrates its 100-year anniversary in 2022 – held the entire democratic event on online for the first time in its history due to the coronavirus outbreak. Last year’s conference allowed the organisation to implement online voting after delegates passed sweeping reforms to the union’s rules and procedures.
I will do whatever it takes to get the NUS as an organisation – and indeed each and every student I am mandated to represent – through this Covid-19 calamity
– Larissa Kennedy, NUS president-elect
As president, Kennedy will chair the NUS board and lead the completion of a three-year turnaround programme, which aims to put the union on a sound financial footing after it revealed a cash shortfall of nearly £3m in November 2018.
The rescue programme, which began in July 2019, followed the sale of the union’s London office – a measure deemed necessary to secure the group’s short-term solvency. Phase 1 and 2 of the turnaround were aimed at putting the NUS on a sound financial footing while long-term solutions were drawn up.
Those long-term decisions will be made in phase 3 of the programme, which is set to start on the same day Kennedy begins her term as national president.
Kennedy has served on Warwick University Students’ Union and on the NUS’ National Executive Council.
Following the election, the NUS president-elect said: “Thank you for electing me as your next NUS national president! I am incredibly humbled and proud, and I’m ready to get to work from day one to see the National Union of Students into its 100th year. The student movement has been my home since I was 16 years old.
“I did not envisage the setting of this election victory when I began my candidacy, but I will do whatever it takes to get the NUS as an organisation – and indeed each and every student I am mandated to represent – through this Covid-19 calamity.
“These past few weeks have been unprecedented in the history of the student movement. The existing crises facing our education sector, and our students, have been exacerbated by the pandemic. But our ambitions have not been diminished, nor has our commitment to deliver transformative change.
“I am truly honoured to have your trust, and I will lead with complete confidence in a simple truth: students are the drivers of society. Whether it is those doing vital emergency work through the NHS, supporting Mutual Aid groups or working in supermarkets – we are here for you.
“I’m ready to hit the ground running and organise, yet again, for a transformed education sector in a fairer, more equal society.”
Incumbent president Zamzam Ibrahim did not stand in the election and will leave the role after one year in the post. She welcomed the result and added: “She’ll make an incredible president and I am going to rooting for her every step of the way”.
I couldn’t be more excited to pass on the Baton to the most incredible and principled activist I know, she’ll make an incredible President and I am going to rooting for her every step of the way! From the 60th President to the 61st @Larissa_Ken!! 💓 https://t.co/p5njPBENOJ
— Zamzam Ibrahim (@ZamzamMCR) April 1, 2020
General secretary of the University and College Union Jo Grady welcomed Kennedy’s election and said there was “much at stake” for higher education in the 2020/21 academic year.
Massive congratulations to @Larissa_Ken on being elected @nusuk President! Next year is going to be a huge one with so much at stake in further and higher education. I’m looking forward to working with you and taking staff student solidarity to the next level 🎉⚡️ https://t.co/mu2OoCTmOv
— Jo Grady (@DrJoGrady) April 1, 2020