By Ryan Maguire.
Many could be forgiven for thinking that the students’ union functions predominantly as a venue for cheap beer and as a social hub but unions offer more, including democratically representing your interests as a student. Not shying away from controversy as during freshers’ events for example, unions distribute condoms and facilitate your drinking, in many case they will be responsible for determining a significant part of your experience.
The University of Sheffield Students’ Union
Sheffield’s student union is currently maintaining a brilliant reputation after being voted the UK’s best union for three consecutive years. Reasons include a £20 million refurbishment which took place in 2013. The building boasts cafes, shops, nightclubs, a cinema and support services which include an advice centre and even a nursery. Sheffield’s union officers secured a UK pioneering fixed fees deal for international students for the 2015/16 academic year. Sheffield’s volunteering scheme is award winning and gives students the opportunity to enhance their skill set. Sheffield’s 2014 Freshers’ week included Ms Dynamite in its impressive line-up. Sheffield also boasts over 300 societies.
The University of Dundee Students’ Union
Dundee’s union has been consistently named as Scotland’s best and was recently placed 4th in the UK. The union is rated highly for nightlife, hosting an event every Tuesday called ‘Skint’ which offers £1 drinks. The SU building contains a pool hall, a swimming pool, two bars, two clubs and some media suites, including the location of DUSA Radio, the university’s student radio station. Freshers’ week included a DJ set from Kristian Nairn aka Hodor from Game of Thrones. DUSA’s executive committee runs influential campaigns, for example they campaigned to for Zero Tolerance to Harassment and Discrimination.
The University of Leeds Students’ Union
The students’ union at Leeds is one of the biggest union buildings in the UK. Leeds won gold at the NUS Green Impact Awards and Leeds’ media groups, The Gryphon Newspaper, Leeds Student TV and Leeds Student Radio have also won awards in the past. The building contains a charity shop, a Green Action Food Co-op surrounded by other bars and shops providing the essentials and more. Leeds has introduced a Social Innovation Zone which gives students the opportunity to be involved with the research and action projects of not-for-profit organisations. Leeds’ 2014 Freshers’ week line-up included the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Danny Howard. Leeds has no shortage of activities, clubs and societies.
Loughborough University Students’ Union
Loughborough is one of the UK’s largest independently owned student unions. The Students’ Action Group in Loughborough was awarded the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award in 2013 for utilising students’ ability to volunteer and help the local community. Loughborough Students’ Union Rag is one of the biggest student fundraising organisations in the country and it regularly raises more than £1,000,000 annually. Loughborough’s 2014 Freshers’ week line-up featured BBC Radio 1’s Jameela Jamil and Chris Stark. Loughborough has an ‘Experience the World’ campaign which encourages students to go abroad to work or study. The union’s nightlife has an excellent reputation as well.
Cardiff University Students’ Union
Cardiff’s 2014 Freshers’ week entered into the news controversially this year as Cardiff-based Climax Promotions distributed chunder/shag charts to students. RnB superstar Drake performed at their most recent Freshers’ Week. Cardiff’s SU is currently undergoing refurbishment, as a multi-million investment has been approved to renovate the second floor social space. Cardiff has all the usual bars but also boasts a concert hall with a capacity of 1,600. The union has its own magazine, newspaper, TV station and radio station. It has a ‘Give it a Go’ initiative which actively encourages students to venture into the unknown regarding activities.
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