NZS was established on 22nd of September 1980 at Univeristy of Gdańsk as a result of memorable events and workers' strikes during August 1980 to stand against political regime in Poland at that time.
NZS during 1980 was a kind of students' anwser for Solidarność and gathered young people who wanted independent from the government organization, democracy in academic life, basic political freedom and human rights, respect for Polish independence traditions and patriotism. For a very long time PRL waited with NZS registration.
It was only after students' strike, especially in Łódź, the government agreed for registration. It happened on 17th of February 1981. The first leader of NZS was Jarosław Guzy. Association, besides pro-student activities (eg. reform of higher education), supported also Solidarność's political activities.
During this time a significant person was also Janusz Smaczny, who is the offcial author of the NZS logo.
After the beginning of State of War NZS was delegalised, many members were arrested. On a few universities NZS operated underground. After 1989 NZS was legalised again. Gradually activities were changing, limiting political initiatives, focusing on representing students and their rights, realizing cultural and entertainment projects, becoming a typically student association.
Presidents of NZS
- 1981-1982: Jarosław Guzy (Jagiellonian University) (from the first NZS convention in April 1981 until delegalisation on January 1982 because of State of War)
- Nov. 1987- Jan. 1988: Wojciech Bogaczyk (Catholic University of Lublin)
- 1989–1990 (April): Artur Olszewski (Wrocław University of Science and Technology) (since another legalisation of NZS)
- 1990-1991: Paweł Piskorski (Warsaw University)
- 1991-1992: Filip Kaczmarek (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań)
- 1992-1993: Krzysztof Lisek (Medical University of Gdańsk)
- 1993-1994: Miłosz Bieniecki (Medical University of Silesia)
- 1994-1995: Witold Repetowicz (Jagiellonian University)
- 1995-1996: Robert Macierzyński (University of Opole)
- 1996-1998: Adam Bielan (Warsaw School of Economics)
- 1998-1999: Jacek Zieliński (Pedagogical University of Krakow)
- 1999-2001: Piotr Sulima (Warsaw University)
- 2001-2003: Mariusz Wiśniewski (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan)
- 2003: Paweł Szczeszek (Częstochowa University of Technology)
- 2003: Michał Jaros (Karol Adamiecki Academy of Economics in Katowice)
- 2004-2005: Bartłomiej Bagrincew (Karol Adamiecki Academy of Economics in Katowice)
- 2005-2006: Marek Czerniak (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan)
- 2006-2008: Marcin Leoszko (University of Białystok)
- 2008-2010: Piotr Wiaderny (University of Science and Technology in Bydgoszcz)
- 2010-2011: Jakub Michalis (Warsaw University of Technology)
- 2011-2013: Izabela Jędrecka (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan)
- 2013-2014: Dagmara Koguc (Warsaw School of Economics)
- 2014-2015: Katarzyna Widziszowska (University of Wrocław)
- 2015-2017: Michał Moskal (Warsaw University)
- 2017-2018: Maria Cholewińska (AGH University of Science and Technology in Cracow)
- 2018-2020: Patrycja Serafin (University of Gdańsk)
- 2020-now: Krzysztof Białas (University of Rzeszów)