My experience

As an undergraduate student, I got involved in my students’ union when I founded our first Hip Hop Society and then later on established the Postgraduate and Mature Students’ Association at the University of Birmingham. I fell in love with how students’ unions were a force in transforming lives of students on campus, and society as a whole. I went on to co-found Defend Education Birmingham, one of the foundational campus groups (groups which fight rising fees, course closures, expulsion of staff and more),  and I haven’t stopped fighting for our education since. 

Since then I have:

    Co-founded Black Women’s Forum UK 2012

    NUS NEC member from 2012-present

    Winner of the Eight Women of the Year Award 2014

    Awarded Black Mental Health top 30 leading individuals of the year 2014 & 2015

  Awarded the Tempest #40WomentoWatch: Incredible trailblazers that completely ruled 2016

    NUS Black Students’ Officer 2014 – 2016

    NUS Trustee Board Member 2015 – 2016

    NUS Anti-Racism and Anti-Fascism Co-convenor 2014 – 2016

    NUS President 2016-2017


As your President

Last year you elected me on a platform that promised to take the fight to the
government, establish broad coalitions across
society, and put liberation at the heart of everything we do. It has been a privilege to do just that.1B11BD7A-7B5F-4967-A60A-8065AFCE9186-711-000000D73D86D160_tmp

From demos and lobbies, to toolkits and strikes, I’ve worked to put forward our vision of a free, liberated and accessible education. I’ve built relationships with trade unions, academic groups, local and national campaigns, as well as out international counterparts to amplify our collective voice. I have led the process of transforming our movement and empowering our grassroots.

Have a read of what I have achieved below!


↓↓ Defending Education ↓↓

Supported the launch of #LiberateMyDegree, alongside VP HE, including the delivery of running workshops and sitting on panels of over 20 universities

Successfully made the demand for Post-16 Skills plan to coincide with investment in FE, which has been shared by providers, AoC and other sector bodiesdan1.jpg

Supported the #BursaryOrBust and #SaveOurNHS campaigns with Nursing and medical students, including ensuring they were platformed in demos

Worked alongside the UCU (University College Union) and NUT (National Union of Teachers) in the ‘Invest Don’t Cut’ campaign for better funding, smaller class sizes and better services in schools and colleges

Put FE area reviews at the centre of our Lead and Change summer trainings

Emphasised supporting FE students and collaboration between HE and FE in regional network training

Sat on the board for the Higher Education Funding Council

Led on organising a 10,000+ strong, National ‘United for Education’ Demonstration on #Nov 19 alongside the UCU, which put forward our demands for both FE and HE

Worked with the UN special rapporteur on Free Speech to tackle the spread of Prevent internationally

Won a prize from the IHRC for national campaign against Prevent

Supported and participated in the UCU’s Cradle to the Grave campaign

Supported parliamentary lobbying, legal proceedings and campaigning activities in support of TOEIC Victims

Developed toolkits on how unions can campaign for their institutions to become rent guarantors for international students


↓↓ Putting Liberation At The Centre of Everything We Do ↓↓0lib

Founded the national Black Sabbs Network and Black Students’ Campaign regional networks

Organised four National Black Women’s Conferences

Co-launched the Race Matters report into the experiences of Black SU staff

Supported Islamophobia Awareness Month initiatives since its establishment

Developed workshops, toolkits and reports on narrowing the Black attainment gap for sabbs, staff and university senior management

Worked alongside the ARAF committee to get a week of action, a national policy day to address representation and the planning of a national conference

Developed an action plan over hate crime post #Brexit

Organised nine roundtables on hate crime with stakeholders, institutions, and external organtisations to inform and shape our work on hate crime, on Ableism, Antisemitism, Interfaith, Islamophobia, LGBphobia, Racism, Sexism and Misogyny, Transphobia and Xenophobia.

Launched an on-line hub focusing on anti-racism, anti-fascism campaigning and tackling hate crime

Supported Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and others with the distribution of resources and to encourage SUs to also take part in national commemoration. Attended Holocaust Memorial HMDT national event

Worked with FOSIS and UJS to plan I Will Lead the Way for Women of faith national event

Co-organised Muslim Women in Leadership conference and produced briefings with the NUS Women’s Campaign on gendered Islamophobia

Launched Students Not Suspects helpline as well as the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project

Worked with the disabled students campaign on new tools for SUs to assess counselling services on their campuses in terms of funding, accreditation and practicesjames

Co-organised and chaired the FE mental health roundtable

Started the research with the disabled students’ campaign on culturally-competent services and the accessibility of MH services to students who are Part-time, mature, disabled, International students and parents and careers

Helped organise the conferences on Culturally Competent Mental Health and the National Conference on mental health

Spoke on the funding gap in counselling at Universities UK Annual Mental Health Conference

Worked with NUS Women’s Campaign to call for the first ever nationwide research into student-staff misconduct 

Supporting a motion calling for updated guidelines on sexual harassment for unions across the country

Working to ensure that the NUS’ Institutional Racism Review, which I demanded last year, took place properly and that its findings and recommendations were communicated and circulated to our staff and membership 


↓↓Building A Strong, Grassroots-Led Union↓↓

Hosted multiple national #BlackLivesMatter tours and joined UK-US Justice Tour alongside the United Family and Friends Campaign

Led Students Not Suspects tours and PREVENT day of action across the UK, and co-authored the Preventing PREVENT handbook

Built links with the TUC and UCU by developing joint training initiatives, resources and co-led a national tour

Hosted workshops on building anti-deportation networks at Autumn term Regional network and developed a guide for students and officers who want to do anti-deportation campaigns.Savannah

Supported individual students with deportation cases, for example, organising a fundraiser and demonstration for #SaveKelechi.

Organised and built the UK wide One Day Without Us protest on February 20 alongside the International Students Campaign

Organised the National Summit: Trump, Brexit and Beyond- Building Bridges Not Walls

Supported the development of FE Students Against Trump at the heart of our intervention around the national mobilisationslondon-uk-20th-february-2017-malia-bouattia-president-of-the-national-HPC2YN

Held NUS’ first regional networks in London, North West, North East, East Midlands, West Midlands, South East, and South West regions to ensure students across the country can feed into NUS and be supported by us

Argued for the centrality of linking up HE and FE institutions through our regional work

Developed the regional network work through the launch of housing summits in London and Scotland, the widening participation conference and #ItStopsHere one day event in Manchester, and the Defend International students and migrant rights campaign day hosted at Canterbury Christ Church SU

Built links between the NUS and the national grasswork network of housing activists, speaking at the National “Rent Strike Weekender” and started a process of collaboration with UNITE the union to tackle housing costs

Built international relationships with other students’ unions around the world including addressing student conferences in France and Canada and coordinating our national demonstration ‘United for Education’ with similar actions in Canada, France, and South Africa

Attended the 45th anniversary of the establishment of NUS-USI alongside my Irish and Northern Irish counterparts

Overseen the work of our on going governance review as chair of both the NUS UK board and NEC, as well as checking and developing the proposals with other officers as part of the task and finish group

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If there were any terms or acronyms used that you didn’t understand, check out our jargon buster here and see if it is in there!

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