Mr Aaron Porter (Doctor of Laws)

Friday 18 July, 11am

Press Comment

"Studying and then representing fellow students at the University of Leicester (2003 – 2006) proved to be a truly life changing experience for me. I was incredibly grateful to have had a world class student experience at an institution that continues to hold a special place in my heart. My time leading the students’ union at Leicester (2006 – 2008) inspired me to get involved in student politics and ultimately as President of the National Union of Students during the high profile debate on tuition fees in 2010-11.

"To be recognised by the university with an honorary degree is incredibly humbling, and to share this day with students who will be graduating after years of hard work is an honour. Like many of the students graduating today, I want to pay special tribute to the staff that taught me, the teachers before them, and my parents throughout that time. Higher education in the United Kingdom is something we can be immensely proud of, and institutions like the University of Leicester make such a vital contribution through its world leading teaching and research that will continue to inspire future generations of students to make society a better place."


  • Attended Wilson’s School (a Grammar School) in Sutton, Surrey
  • First in family to attend university – University of Leicester. Department of English (2003 – 2006)
  • Active as a student; course rep, editor of the student paper ‘The Ripple’, President of Stamford Hall Junior Common Room committee
  • Twice successfully elected as a sabbatical officer of the University of Leicester students’ union (Vice President in 2006/07 and President in 2007/08). Achievements included securing funding for re-development of the Percy Gee building
  • Elected as Vice-President (Higher Education) of the National Union of Students 2008-2010
  • First graduate from University of Leicester to be elected as President of the National Union of Students (2010-11). Follows in the foot steps of Jack Straw, Charles Clarke, Trevor Phillips and Jim Murphy as a former NUS President. Ran campaign to secure pledges from candidates of all political parties to vote against any increase in tuition fees. Famously (infamously) signed by a number of high profile MPs including all Lib Dem candidates including Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and Danny Alexander. Pledge was also signed by a number of high profile Labour MPs and a handful of Conservative MPs.
  • Published a graduate tax alternative to tuition fees in 2009 (
  • As NUS President, led a high profile campaign against the proposed increase in tuition fees which included high level lobbying including with the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Business Secretary and Leader of the Labour Party.
  • Led a 50,000 strong demo against the increase in fees. Largest student protest since the 1960s, and biggest UK protest since the Anti Iraq war demonstration in 2003.
  • Appeared extensively on TV (including Question Time, The Politics Show and Newsnight) and radio. And was described by presenter Andrew Neill (“a rising star, surely a future MP”).
  • Written for a number of publications including The Times, The Observer, The New Statesman and the Times Higher Education. More recently has been published in a book, ‘The Student Engagement Handbook: Practice in Higher Education’ (2013)
  • Served on the boards of a number of organisations including the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS), the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Academy (HEA), the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA). Outside of higher education he has been a director at Endsleigh Insurance.
  • Since leaving NUS, he has been invited to undertake work for the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills to evaluate and independently assess the impact of government programmes. He is also helping to oversee a 3 year evaluation of the National Scholarship Programme (a £150m fund to support the poorest students)
  • He is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Winchester, overseeing research into the student learning experience and emerging models of student engagement.
  • He serves on the Board of the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) which oversees access into higher education providers in the UK.
  • He is a Director at the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) a UK wide body helping to foster collaboration in research and the development of graduate talent between higher education and employers.
  • In January 2014 he was appointed as the Associate Director (Governance) for the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, overseeing a national programme of training and development for the governors of universities, and research to better understand upcoming challenges and opportunities that relate to governance in the sector.
  • He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts

Personal Interests:

Regular theatre goer, follows football (season ticket holder at Crystal Palace), cricket (member at Surrey County Cricket Club).

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