Two universities disaffiliate from the NUS after president refuses to condemn IS

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Two UK universities have severed ties with the National Union of Students (NUS) after it elected a controversial president who refused to condemn Islamic State (IS).

Students at the University of Lincoln and Newcastle University have voted to disaffiliate from the NUS. They are the first of a series of student unions to hold referenda after Malia Bouattia, 28, was made president of the national body, the first black Muslim to hold the post.

Students
The NUS president has proved controversial (Chris Radburn/PA)

Dominic Fearon, president of Newcastle University Students' Union (NUSU), said: "It is clear that our students feel that the NUS no longer represents their views, does not prioritise correctly and is not effective at achieving change."

He added: "The current discontent amongst students nationally can be measured in the number of student unions considering holding referenda on their membership.

"We hope that the NUS will acknowledge their shortcomings and will work to become the national union that students deserve and can identify with."

Newcastle University building
Newcastle University (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Hayley Jayne Wilkinson, University of Lincoln Students' Union president, said: "We no longer felt confident that the NUS represented the views of our students.

"For some time we have felt that the focus of debate within the NUS has been far removed from the issues that our students tell us are important to them every day on campus."

Oxford and Cambridge are among a number of other universities that are expected to vote on whether to remain associates of the NUS.

Ms Bouattia has previously been criticised for attacking "Zionist-led media outlets" and suggesting that non-peaceful "resistance" is the most suitable solution to the Palestinian conflict with Israel.

Following her election at the NUS national conference in Brighton on April 20, members of the audience also applauded student delegates for suggesting that Holocaust Memorial Day should be shunned because it is not "inclusive".

In 2011, while studying at the University of Birmingham, Ms Bouattia described the university as "a Zionist outpost in British higher education" in an article.

More recently, during her role as the NUS black students' officer, Ms Bouattia voted down a motion to condemn IS on the grounds that doing so would be "blatant Islamophobia".