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Top student unions: Which? University Student Survey 2019

From fighting for your rights to entertaining you, your students' union will play a big part in your university experience. Here are the SUs rated top by students...

We surveyed more than 11,000 undergraduates to find out how they rate their union, particularly when it came to organising a variety of events and societies, catering to students' interests and campaigning on key issues.

Which universities have the best student union?

Leeds, Loughborough, Sheffield, Dundee and Harper Adams all retain a place at the top of our student union category in 2019, with newcomers University of Birmingham and University of Edinburgh making an appearance too.

See why students rated their respective unions so highly it might give you an idea of what to look for in your union, once you get to uni.


University of Birmingham (NEW for 2019)

The Guild – the University of Birmingham’s student union – boasts over 250 societies and clubs, according to their website.

Located on campus, the Guild promises study spaces, cafes and a nightclub, Fab. 

Birmingham’s Union also named one of the winners in the Students’ Union of the Year category in the National Union of Students (NUS) Awards 2018.

Learn more about University of Birmingham.


University of Dundee

University of Dundee - Which? University Student Survey 2018: Student Union

'The student union at Dundee is absolutely superb! I firmly believe there are few better in the UK. They are constantly arranging new events, whether fundraising, awareness-raising or just for us students to have a bloody good time!'
Second year student, University of Dundee | 2014

'The Dundee University union is the best I have been in within Scotland. There are many club nights with access to all the floors within the union. During the day there's a café that's great, which also hosts pub quizzes and karaoke nights throughout the year. Plus it's cheap for nights out, which is good for the bank balance.'
Third year student, University of Dundee | 2014

'Many societies meet regularly in the union, making it a real campus hub. This means a wide range of activities take place throughout the week. Plus there are regular book sales in the common areas.'
Second year student, University of Dundee | 2014

Learn more about Dundee University.


University of Edinburgh (NEW for 2019)

The Edinburgh University Students’ Association represents around 40,000 students at Edinburgh.

Students can drop in to The Advice Place at Potterrow for help on a range of matters, from money and housing to employment and city information.

Visit the Association’s website and you’ll see that ‘representation’ stands out as a key theme. Among the Association’s elected representatives are Liberation Officers, who ensure that marginalised students have their voices heard.

‘It's almost impossible to not become involved in something – there is always something different around the corner.’
First year student, University of Edinburgh | 2017

Learn more about the University of Edinburgh.


Harper Adams University

Harper Adams - Which? University Student Survey: Student Union

'There is so much to do that you won't be able to do everything. But try a bit of everything and I'm sure there will be something great for you to do!'
Second year student, Harper Adams University | 2014

'We have an excellent SU run by the students for the students, so your voice is heard and there is very little politics.
Second year student, Harper Adams University | 2014

Learn more about Harper Adams University.


Leeds University

Leeds University - Which? University Student Survey 2018: Student Union

'Rag is the largest society and provides volunteering opportunities abroad and in Leeds. The union also provides a student paper and radio station. There are also science, athletic and campaigning societies. The union puts on fashion shows, plays and other activities aimed at bringing students to the union to meet other students.'
Third year student, University of Leeds | 2014

'There are LOTS of societies and new ones are constantly being formed. Personally I'm involved with the vegetarian, yoga, badminton, green action, and henna societies.'
Second year student, University of Leeds | 2014

Learn more about University of Leeds.


Loughborough University

University of Loughborough - Which? University Student Survey 2018: Student Union

‘Loughborough has a very good student union, and has won numerous awards for student experience over the years. It had over 80 societies and over 50 additional sport clubs as part of the Athletic Union. There's always something for someone, and if not, it's easy to set up your own society.’
First year student, Loughborough University | 2014

‘Amazing events and activities at the Union, from nights out to workshops helping you make bread! [They organise] bonding activities during Freshers’ Week with double-decker buses to other cities for nights out – so fun and memorable.’
First year student, Loughborough University | 2016

‘There are a lot of charity events and societies to get involved with. The union has guest DJs, acoustic performances, foam parties, paint parties and a lot of other themed nights – there is always something going on.’
Second year student, Loughborough University | 2014

Learn more about Loughborough University.


University of Sheffield

Sheffield University - Which? University Student Survey 2018: Student Union

‘The student union exceeded my expectations. There are so many societies available to choose from, as well as the Jobshop and volunteering hub, and a variety of student club nights.’
Second year student, University of Sheffield | 2016

‘I didn't know what it was or why I would need it, but the student union is great! If you have any problems you can go there and know the information you receive will be good quality. The nights out are good because I always feel the safest there – the bouncers are actually nice – and it never gets too hot or rowdy. I have only joined one society (Zumba) but they offer so many more. Plus, the food outlets are a good place to meet friends.’
Second year student, University of Sheffield | 2016

‘The student union is a great place to chill in between lectures, grab a bite to eat, meet for a group project and even nights out. Nights out in the union are the nights I feel safest and well looked after if you have one too many drinks.’
Second year student, University of Sheffield | 2016

Learn more about University of Sheffield.

Read the full results of the Which? University Student Survey 2018 including who came top for nightlife, sports scene and more.


About the Which? University Student Survey 2019

We asked students to score their university on how varied the student union activities were, as part of the annual Which? University Student Survey. Each year, Which? commissions this independent survey of current higher education students in the UK to find out more about their experience of university.

We surveyed a total of 3,874 students from over 127 institutions this year, merging findings from our 2018 and 2017 surveys to give an overall sample of 11,092 students. The survey sample used to analyse the student union category consisted of all students from the 2019 survey, first and second years from the 2018 sample, and first year students from the 2017 sample.

Statistical differences between groups of universities were identified as follows. For each measure, a mean score on the 1-10 scale was calculated for each university. Analysis of variance was used to establish whether there were any significant differences between the means, and then a linear plotting technique was used to identify significant breaks between the means of groups of universities. The groups with the highest mean scores were reported as 'highly rated'.

All surveys were conducted by YouthSight on behalf of Which?, in March/April of the respective year.

Please note, student comments in this feature range from 2014-2018.

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