Student Union: Everything You Need to KnowSee All Uni Advice Articles
Going to university for the first time can be a very scary thing to experience. The worries of leaving your friends and family behind, the problems that can arise when you’re feeling homesick at university or what to do when your friends are going to different universities or if you’re struggling with any mental health issues at university. Luckily for you, your Student Union can be a big help to you when adjusting to university!
But what does a Student Union do for students and how does it help students? Well, luckily we’ve compiled a useful guide for you to see how your Student Union can help you.
What is a Student Union?
A Student Union is an organisation that is set up by a university to represent the best interests of students.
A Student Union will help students to deal with any issues that they may have and to introduce students to university facilities. Your student union can also help you if you’re experiencing bullying, sexual harassment at university, homesickness or exam stress, there are plenty of things that your Student Union is able to help you with.
As part of a Student Union, you will also be given an NUS Card, which means you will be able to claim student discounts all around the UK!
Do all universities have a Student Union?
Yes, they do!
All universities have a Student Union and they all work the same way. It is a requirement for a university to have a Student Union. A Student Union represents the voice of the students and are a good way of gauging
Is my Student Union part of a larger group?
All Student Unions are all affiliated with the National Union of Students (NUS). The NUS represents everyone from undergraduates all the way through to Mature Students. However, there are three other bodies that represent student interests nationwide as well, such as:
- National Postgraduate Committee
- Coalition of Higher Education Students in Scotland (CHESS)
- Aldwych Group
These groups cover the same area as the NUS, however, they focus more on other areas. The Coalition of Higher Education Students in Scotland focuses on university students in Scotland and will help you with everything that you need at university, whether that be help with studies, issues surrounding bullying or student finance in Scotland.
The Aldwych Group purely covers Russell Group universities.
Does the NUS cover Northern Ireland?
Yes, it does. Northern Ireland used to have it’s own Student Union, called the National Union of Students-Union of Students in Ireland (NUS-USI), which apart from being an incredibly over-complicated and somewhat confusing name for a student union, became part of the NUS in 1972, which means you’re covered in Northern Ireland as well!
Am I entitled to any discounts through my Student Union?
This is probably one of the best things about being part of your university’s Student Union! As a student, you will be entitled to various student discounts and will be able to use your Student NUS Card (See below) to claim some discounts.
Many companies already offer student discounts for students, but you will need to have your NUS Card as a way of proving that you’re a student first.
Companies like ASOS and Amazon will already have incentives open to students, and being able to use your NUS Card means that you will be able to save money on equipment that you need for university.
What is a Student NUS Card?
A Student NUS Card is a card that allows you to take advantage of student discounts. A Student NUS Card costs £12 and will allow you to save money as a student on everything from food to cinema trips, so if you fancy seeing whatever Star Wars film Disney decide to make this year, then you can go with a nice little discount to help you out.
What is also useful, is that an NUS Card can actually help you with travel too! Although students can still claim a student travel grant, even with their NUS Card, some students still need to apply for various travel incentives, such as the 16-25 Railcard, which allows students to save 30% off of travel. With an NUS Card, you can save 11% off of the cost of the Railcard, talk about top savings, right!?
Will I meet my Student Union representatives at a University Open Day?
This really depends on the university, and the University Open Day itself. It’s unlikely that a university would not have a representative from their university there, they may even have several student ambassadors. Most universities give you the chance to visit the Student Union building on your open day as it is, and as a result, you may be able to go there and speak to them at your will.
Can I speak to my Student Union if I’m facing any difficulties at university?
Your Student Union will always be there for you. Many students encounter different issues at university, whether it be facing issues with bullying at university, sexual harassment, homesickness at university or general exam stress, and your Student Union can help you with all of them!
Your Student Union can help you with exam stress by helping you to draw up a study plan or to help you with revision, they can give you some helpful advice for those that are facing issues with being homesick, by introducing you to a number of different services for staying in touch with friends and family and can help you with any statements made to the police or the university, in cases of sexual harassment.
Your Student Union is one of the most important facilities open to students at university, and we cannot recommend it enough. A Student Union is there to offer you help and is there to provide you with the tools you need to survive university, whether that be an NUS Card for student discounts or helping you with any issues you’re having at university, your student union is always there for you.
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