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

Unique elements

Most who know or begin to learn about what students’ unions do, how they run themselves and how they go about their activity would agree that they are organisations that are quite unlike many other organisations in the third or education sectors.

  • Generally SUs have quite complex leadership models, with yearly elected students leading the organisation supported by management and staff teams. Ultimately SUs are lead by their members.
  • While management and staff remain a constant, officers may serve a year or two in post – this brings fresh leadership and changing agendas and goals.
  • As described above, the range of services and opportunities provided are numerous and diverse, more than many other comparable organisations.
  • SUs are independent of their institution yet need to work closely together to provide quality outcomes for shared customers/members. Institutions are part funders of SUs.
  • SUs are often at the lead of change in society through campaigning and other activity – from green issues, discrimination and equality across all parts of society, health, well being and positive futures for students.
  • SUs work with a wide range of partners – universities and colleges, commercial partners, NUS, local and national government, local and national third sector, voluntary organisations and local health networks.
  • Activity ranges between the commercial and non-commercial services – a challenge to successfully deliver in competitive marketplaces with sometimes limited resources.