Students' Union

Students' unions (also known as students' guilds or associations) exist in most colleges and universities. Upon enrolling at an institution you automatically become a member of the union. If your union is one of the many affiliated to NUS (National Union of Students), you will also be eligible for an NUS card and all of the benefits that brings from local cinemas to national travel operators. All full list of companies that specialise in dealing with students and offer discounts to NUS members are listed on

Students' unions (SU) are the backbone of NUS and are integral to student life. They provide a broad range of services from welfare advice and information to clubs and societies, bars, shops and catering services, student community action projects and charity fundraising events. The university SU will for many become the centre of the universe when it comes to eating, drinking and socialising, however they can offer much more besides the cheapest beer in town!

Students' union services and activities vary from one institution to another. They may include any or all of the following:

  • campaigning and representing students' rights.
  • arranging entertainment programmes and social activities for students.
  • running restaurants, bars and shops on campus.
  • providing information on student travel, sport and leisure facilities.
  • offering discounts on a variety of products.
  • offering advice on welfare issues such as accommoation and immigration requirements.
  • providing information and advice on part-time work as well as listing of graduate jobs available in the students' union and local area.

Students' unions also play a vital role in facilitating the representation of students' views within the institution. Students' union officers often sit on the board of governors of the college or university and students' unions help student course representatives at a departmental level as well as supporting students in academic appeals.

Unions are there to represent your interests, co-ordinate clubs and societies and provide affordable commercial services - so make the best use of them! Inquire about getting involved in some of their activities and consider running a society as this can cover creative, cultural, religious, political, education and sporting pursuits of students. Time spent organising events or sporting activities will not only develop your skills but is often admired by many potential employers. Time can be the main restraint when it comes to the level of involvement you can realistically achieve but at the very least you will have a lot of fun by joining one or two societies or clubs.

Elected student officers conduct the affairs of the students' union and implement policy. Every student has the opportunity to take part in making decisions on policy and areas of work through general meetings or elected councils. In larger students' unions, some elected officers spend a sabbatical year working full time for the students' union whilst many unions also employ professional staff. Students' unions decide whether they wish to affiliate to the National Union of Students.

Every constituent member of NUS pays an annual subscription fee. This is calculated by a number of means, depending on the number of full-time and part-time students who are members of the union and the amount of money the union receives from their college or university.

The funds raised from affiliation fees are used to fund the campaigns and activities of the National Union, including the running of all of the democratic structures in which the union is entitled to take part.

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