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What your students' union can do for you

Around 600 students' unions are members of the National Union of Students (NUS), so over to NUS to explain how to get the most out of yours...

At some point in your first few days at university you will probably come across the students’ union. It may be because they are holding a freshers' fair or similar welcome event. It may be because the registration process is taking place in a students’ union building.

You may have sought it out yourself because you’ve heard it's where you can get free stuff from stalls, or to collect your discounts via an NUS TOTUM card (formerly known as NUS Extra). Or maybe you’ve already signed up to some evening activities in the union and have gone to collect your tickets, wristband or fancy sampling the bar.
One thing is for certain: whatever your first interaction is with your students’ union, you will probably only have scratched the surface on what it's got to offer. Your union is more than just a place that sells cheap beer (though they usually do that, too).

Enjoy playing sport?

Your union will probably run a sports club for the sport you love the most. And lots more too. Why not try a new sport, or one you haven’t played for a few years? Not only does it get you some exercise, you’ll make great friends and there are all sorts of positions of responsibility that keep these clubs running. You can develop your leadership skills while having fun – all good stuff to put on your CV. Perfect!

There are so many sports clubs that it is impossible not to find one that you like, and even if you aren't a sports person, going to the events and cheering for your team in the varsity leagues is a great experience. First Year English Literature Student | Nottingham Trent University

Have a hobby?

Your union will probably provide a society that will link you up with other people who have the same hobby. And even if they don’t, you can start one. Maybe you could be the first ever president of the Funny Shaped Pebbles Appreciation Society at your union...

The Students' Union hosts sports clubs and societies, of which there are over 70, and they even give you an option to start your own club or society if they don't already run one in an area you're passionate about. Second Year Psychology Student | University Of Huddersfield

Having problems at university or college?

Not only will your students’ union be able to offer advice, or at least direct you to the best place to receive advice, but they will also be able to find ways of addressing the problem through lobbying or campaigning on your behalf. So if your halls of residence aren’t clean enough, the bus routes not frequent enough or your course feedback not good enough then go to your union, they will be able to help.

The student union is very organised and provides an outstanding support for students with any queries and problems. Second Year Medical Biochemistry Student | Kingston University

Want to develop your skills alongside your education?

Whether it be running a club or society, volunteering in the community or getting elected to a union committee to lead campaigns on issues that affect you and your fellow students, your students’ union is waiting.

The student union is what you want it to be. Lots of provision for students who are willing to run their own night, launch a political campaign, do some volunteering. Second Year Media Student | Goldsmiths University

So don’t just think of it as a place for drinks and discounts. At university you will make lifelong friends, share unforgettable experiences and develop your skills and ideas to become the person you want to be.

The Uni Guide provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from the National Union of Students (NUS), a confederation of 600 students' unions representing the interests of more than seven million students.

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