But the move, announced at its annual conference last week, has failed to deflect criticism for being unrepresentative of its FE membership.
David Gibson, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said FE students were poorly served by the NUS and should consider forming their own union. "I don't think they get a fair deal. When have the NUS argued vociferously or had demonstrations about the need for local authorities to maintain discretionary awards?" More than half the NUS's 3.5 million members are in further education. But at the union's annual conference the elections of new officers were again dominated by university delegates who won 14 out of the 22 senior officers posts.
An NUS spokesperson said the change attempted to make the union more accountable to its FE members and that it was "ludicrous" to suggest they should break away or that the NUS did not campaign on FE issues as conference had passed a motion demanding maintenance grants for college students.
"The issues facing HE and FE, while they are diverse, are becoming closer and closer."