Everything you need to know about working in, being an officer in or being involved with students' unions.


Students’ unions are funded from a variety of income streams.

  • Institutions usually give a block grant to their partner union. The level of grant can vary year on year with the union submitting proposals each year.  Unions often have to “bid” for specific projects or more funding as part of the colleges budget planning process.
  • Commercial revenue can be generated by a variety of services, including retail outlets, bars, rental/leasing of space to other commercial providers or franchisees.  Services provided can include coffee shops, travel services, banking outlets, clothing shops, card shops, branded goods and many other services often found as specialist high street providers.
  • Grants from partners in local government or the third sector for specific services, often gained through a competitive bidding process.

Unions occasionally own their own buildings, but this is the exception.  They are often located in college or university buildings close to teaching facilities, where they may pay a commercial rent or a space usage fee.  Where an institution operates from more than one site the Students’ Union may also operate from a number of offices.  Depending on the history of the union, financial reserves are used to support activities in difficult times or when major investment is required.

The profile of services provided by a union varies according to the type and size of institution, its history, the student demographic, whether an institution is campus based or multi-sited, competition from other providers and the services provided by the University or college.  No union is the same – their services will often vary significantly.