Stanley Kenneth Jenkins was born in Brecon, South Wales, on 25 November 1920. After several years working for his family's building firm, Jenkins joined the army in 1942, serving with the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers in Nigeria, India, Burma and the Gold Coast. In 1946, after demobilisation with the rank of Major, Jenkins enrolled as a student to study Building Technology at Cardiff Technical College; he was elected president of the Welsh Universities and Colleges Council and vice-president of the National Union of Students in 1947, and president of the National Union of Students in 1949. After his resignation as NUS president in 1951, Jenkins joined the Foreign Office, serving overseas in Singapore, Malaya, Burma, Cyprus and Oman, before returning to London. He retired in 1978.
Stanley Jenkins was the first full-time paid president of the NUS and first president to come from a technical college. At a time when the NUS executive was dominated by members of the Communist Party, Jenkins was unusual in being unaligned with any one political party. His term in office was dominated by issues relating to Communist Party involvement in student politics and Jenkins played a key role in halting the trend towards Communism within the NUS.
Prior to his election as NUS president, Jenkins was already active internationally. In 1949 he participated in a debating tour of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, taking part in over 100 debates with audiences of up to 6,000, and meeting the Prime Minister Pandit Nehru. In the same year Jenkins was sent to Prague to investigate the oppression of students following the Czech coup d'etat (he attributed the report of his findings to a full congress of the NUS council as the action that won him the presidency). Following his election as president, Jenkins frequently visited Eastern Europe to attend meetings of the executive committee of the International Union of Students (IUS), regularly clashing with the Soviet representative Alexander Shelepin (a future head of the KGB). One of his last actions as president was to speak in support of the successful referendum to disaffiliate the NUS from the Communist-dominated IUS.
[Information from the article 'Stanley Jenkins: an astonishing life journey' in 'Spotlight', Feb 2011; curriculum vitae; profile in 'Student Chronicle', no.15, Nov 1949; and other sources within the archive]