He is due to take office on the 1 July and will replace Aaron Porter, who decided last month not to stand for re-election.
Burns, 26, is a physics graduate and the current president of NUS Scotland. He has proven to be a popular leader amongst students across the border. In April’s election he beat NUS vice-president Shane Chowen to the top national role in the last round of voting. The final result was 446 preferences to 279.
Some have questioned whether a student who has never had to pay tuition fees is an appropriate choice, representing a student body who will soon be charged up to £9,000 a year. Burns however has expressed his concern for students nationally, and described the coalition as “a government that is hostile to young people”, regarding their cuts to higher education.
He has also spoken regretfully about the NUS’ poor and sometimes lacking support for the recent student protests, telling the Guardian that, “NUS made the wrong call on our handling of emerging grassroots campaigns.
When students peacefully occupied their university buildings, the union was not clear enough about how and if we could support that action”.
Burns wishes to ‘marry’ the lobbying efforts of the NUS with direct action and has been explicit in his opposition to the possibility of a fall in student numbers.
Sussex sent four delegates to the NUS conference, with the University of Sussex Students’ Union stating that “all…delegates were vocal in their support of Mark Bergfeld for President”.
Cameron Tait, Students’ Union President, stated, “Liam has said he will battle commercialisation in education and put liberation campaigns at the heart of the NUS and I hope he can fulfill these promises.”