Going to university is an exciting prospect. There is so much to look forward to doing and getting out of being there. Especially after the last few years. The chance to learn in a new setting, move out of home (if you want to!) and make the most of the social life all make going to university a really appealing prospect.
Most students planning to go to university will have heard of Student Unions (SUs). But do you actually know what they do and why they are there? This blog will try and explain what they are and how to make the most of Student Unions – from taking part in the SU clubs or socials to getting a paid job in the SU!
All the Student Unions are members of the National Union of Students – https://www.nus.org.uk/. The focus for each SU is to enhance the experience of students while they are studying. This can mean anything from running campaigns that relate to student experience, supporting individual students with their issues, to organising social events and sports teams. They are run by students, for students! A lot of students just assume the SU is there and ‘runs’ in the background. That approach is fine – especially in the first few months of being at university. Events like Freshers Week are very much aimed at first years, to help them settle in and make a good start to university life. But there is so much more to the SU that you can use. This blog will give you some ideas of how else you can use your SU to enjoy your time at university and make you more employable afterwards.
Are you keen on sport? There is likely to be an SU club for your favourite sport. How about trying something new, like lacrosse, water polo or dodgeball? Not only can you play the sport but you could get involved in running the club itself. Why? The experience will give you a position of responsibility, some great skills and a chance to get to know lots of other students. Want to find out more about the universities sports leagues – https://www.bucs.org.uk/compete/sports.html?
If sport isn’t your ‘thing’ but you’ve got an interest or hobby, there’s a good chance that there will be a SU Society that you can join. Interested in drama or performing arts? There are several universities that have drama or musical theatre societies. Or an interest in chocolate? There are Chocolate Appreciation Societies too. Or are you after something a bit more relevant to you? There are numerous faith societies and LGBQ+ ones you can look into. And if there isn’t? The SU will help you set up a club or society that meets your interest. This will include financial support too, so if you’re really into Anime, Bollywood or Women in Entrepreneurship, why not think about starting a society? Here’s what one university SU has as their current societies, to give you some ideas https://www.citystudents.co.uk/getinvolved/societies/.
The SU isn’t just about providing opportunities within the student community though. Often they will promote opportunities for you to get involved in the local community too. So if you know you’d like to get involved locally, for instance in local projects supporting mental health or conservation, the SU will be a good place to ask about opportunities.
Its not just about giving you opportunities like this though. The SU is there to support you if you’ve got an issue. If something has come up with your accommodation, academic studies or anything else, the SU is there to give you support or signpost you to where you need to go. Universities can be huge organisations, with a confusing array of rules, regulations and student support spread around different teams. The SU officers will help you navigate all of this to get the help you need!
It’s already been mentioned that SU’s are run by students. What would you think to running for a position in the SU? This could be as SU president, social officer or any number of other positions. Doing this as either a role alongside your studies or taking a paid year out of your studies will develop lots of skills and give you some invaluable experience. Worth a thought? Not only will this be good for your CV but it would help shape the experience of students at the university!
Hopefully this blog has given you some ideas on how to make the most of Student Unions. When you next go to an open day, why not stop at the SU stall and talk to them about their societies, opportunities and how to make good use of them? They’ll be mega pleased to have proactive students to talk to!
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