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Freshers Survival Guide:

Students' unions

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Almost all universities and colleges have their own students’ union (SU), sometimes called students’ guild or students’ association. It is normally, but not always, affiliated to the National Union of Students (or NUS). Whatever the slant of the union (left, right or apolitical), it is run by students for students – more or less.

At a small college, the SU will be based around a common room. At a large university, it will have its own building with one or more union shops, bars and places to eat. The SU is responsible for entertainments (clubnights, quizzes, ents) and for funding clubs and societies. The larger SUs may run multiple bars and eateries, as well as nightclubs, niteline for personal problems, newspapers and radio stations. There’s usually an SU welfare service which can help on accommodation, jobs (in the SU and locally), hardship funds, changing course − and general advice and knowhow. Most SUs have their own website (see our University profiles) so you can see what is going on.

How much you get involved in union activities is up to you. They encompass a huge range – sport, politics, debating, drama, media etc – and the standard can be very high. Joining in helps to widen your circle of acquaintances, beyond those on your course and in your halls, and taking part in running them can be useful experience for life after graduation.

Featured Universities

Canterbury Christ Church University
Canterbury Christ Church University

Location: Canterbury

Students: 19105

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Liverpool University

Location: Liverpool

Students: 21875

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