Oxford University's student union has voted to leave the National Union of Students and became the latest university to turn its back on the student body.
The UK's old institution joins the likes of Southampton, whose students opted to stay disaffiliated from the union in 2012, and the decision is likely to be a bitter blow to the NUS. Glasgow, Queen Margaret, St Andrews and Imperial College are also among the universities not affiliated with the student body, whose current president Toni Pearce, did not attend university.
The OUSU's president Tom Rutland said he was "disappointed" with the result to leave. "I’m concerned about the impact it will have on OUSU and Oxford students," he said. "My time at OUSU has shown me that NUS membership is a real lifeline both for our elected officers and our student body."
Jack Matthews, who led the successful "Believe in Oxford" campaign, said he was "delighted that Oxford has had the courage to stand up against the NUS and demand change".
According to the Oxford Student, the yes to stay with the NUS campaign received 1652, while the disaffiliation campaign received 1780, with 32 abstentions.
A statement from the NUS said it "respects" the decision of the students. "We would of course welcome the union back should it wish to re-affiliate in the future and look forward to making the case for the considerable savings membership brings to students."
More than 600 student unions currently belong to the NUS, which the body says allows them to "invest in a movement which campaigns to defend, extend and promote the rights of students on the national stage". Students can also save money through the NUS extra card.
The union added: "NUS provides help and support to individual students’ unions which enables them to undertake their own work by supplying expert research, training, advice and information, and through supporting under-represented student groups to get their voices heard."
Many students are already looking to alternatives for the NUS; Syndicalist Students, a group founded by students, is just one of several grassroot organisations who are actively searching for ways to "move forward.
Tim Berkman, a Bristol University student and member of the Syndicalists, told the Huffington Post UK the NUS was "bureaucratic, and dominated by people who want to get a career in politics rather than change anything" - referring to past NUS presidents such as Jack Straw, Stephen Twigg and Labour MP Jim Murphy.
"Most students don't want to sit through long meetings with politicians - we want to take action," Berkman says. "We can do this much better without the people who claim to 'represent' us or 'lead' us - we don't need them.
"Student debt, privatisation, education cuts, and huge rents all need to be opposed. The NUS is not doing, and cannot do, this effectively."