The battle over the raise of tuition fees lasted for almost three months and led to division of Britain’s student movement. After fierce criticism that Aaron Porter has faced for not doing enough to prevent trebling of tuition fees, he decided to step down. In the times of austerity, the next NUS president could be a candidate without a degree. Shane Chowen, 22, is the frontrunner in the race to steer the NUS after Aeron Porter. This week student delegates will gather for a national conference in Gateshead to decide who will be the next NUS president. The result of this conference will be published as essay
If elected, Chowen, who is currently a vise-president for further education, will be the first NUS president who has never been to university. Shane Chowen has close relationship with Aeron Porter who was criticized for being too late to show public support for direct action protest over tripling of tuition fees. The outgoing NUS president was also criticized for not attending the national day of action when students were protesting
for hours. Chowen’s relationship can tarnish him in the eyes of some students who will elect the next NUS president.
Actually, Chowen was not “for” university occupations: "I see them as a valid form of protest, a way of creating change, but only in certain circumstances." He considers that NUS should reach out to the left of the student movement which was split after the protests. He is planning to create an education system that "no longer has an academic, vocational divide", if elected. He said: "It's actually a class divide that starts at school, is reinforced at college and reinforced again at university. I want middle-class families to be OK with their young people coming home and saying, I want to do an apprenticeship." At the moment his closest rival is Liam Burns, 26, the current president of NUS Scotland and a physics graduate from Heriot-Watt university. Both candidates oppose the raise of tuition fees and consider that if universities charge the maximum tuition fees, the market in higher education will become weak and untenable.
Another candidates to become a NUS president are Mark Bergfeld, a member of the Socialist Workers Party, and Thomas Byrne, a Conservative supporter who seconds the raise of tuition fees.