Despite the fact that every university in the UK has a student union, many students across the country still fail to take full advantage of all that these great organisations have to offer. Higher education can be a tough time both academically and personally. These issues can be substantially alleviated  by simply using all the student union benefits that exist.

What Is A University Student Union

It can be all too easy when embarking on your university journey, to miss out on many of the introductory events in the first few weeks. Fresher’s week, moving into new digs and familiarising one’s self with their new surrounding can all be slightly daunting and hectic, meaning you miss out on exactly what your university student union can offer.

Fear not though, as the Collegiate team has put this handy article together highlighting exactly what your Student Union (S.U.) is and all the benefits it provides.
Firstly, it is important to remember that your S.U. is a separate organisation to your university. Of course, they are inherently connected but they are, as institutions, completely separate. Your S.U. is there to help you as a student, rather than facilitate anything academic. Although they may well be able to help you out with this at times.

What Kind Of Student Union Benefits Can I Expect?

All the student unions around the UK will differ depending on the university in question, but the types of things you can expect from your student union usually include but are not limited to:

Commercial services
A reasonably priced bar (student ID will be required)
Food and beverages
Social events
Student welfare
Sports society membership
Volunteering opportunities
Student representation

A good way to think about your S.U. is a kind of Citizen’s Advice Bureau but just for you and your peers at university.

Do I Need To Join My Student Union?

This is a question we get quite a lot at Collegiate and it does differ from university to university.  That said, in the majority of cases you will be automatically enrolled to your student union when you officially become a student at your chosen institution.

If for whatever reason you do not wish to be, you can of course choose to opt out. We would highly recommend not doing this though, due to the range of student union benefits that exist for you.  You can speak to your S.U. about this if you have any concerns.

How Can I Get Involved At My Student Union?

As well as taking advantage of all the cool stuff your S.U. offers, you can also choose to get involved with being a part of the organisation. If you like helping others and are heading into your second or third year having had some great experiences with your student union, then there is no harm in enquiring to see if you can help out.

Not only does this look fantastic on your CV, but it’s a great way to really embrace the university experience. You never know, you could be a natural leader and it could open doors for becoming your S.U. president, which looks amazing on any curriculum vitae.

A good starting point would be heading the S.U. stand at your fresher’s fair or any other faculty events, but you can also talk to anyone at your student union at any time during the academic year.

Start Your Own Society!

From the Disney society at the University of Exeter, to the Mario Kart society in Essex, there is no real limit to the types of society you can create. Durham even has an Assassin’s’ society! Starting your own is a fantastic way to meet likeminded people, boosting your CV, and the potential to leave behind your legacy at your university.

New clubs and sport societies also pop up all the time at universities across the UK, from the traditional to more wacky sports such as Dodgeball. So, if you have a keen interest and have some friends who share it and your university doesn’t offer it, why not take the initiative and set this up for yourself.

Your student union would no doubt love to hear your suggestions and if successful, this could make you a bit of a hero around campus. You usually only need around 20 signatures to get a society going at university, so it may not be as challenging as it sounds.

Hopefully this has given you some insight into just how valuable your student union can be and getting involved could enhance your university experience significantly.