Best Universities for Students’ Union
The quality of a Students' Union might not be the first thing on your mind when you’re deciding which uni to go to, but it is one of the key areas that can really impact your university experience.
How are the Top 20 worked out?
We’ve crunched the numbers on 19,232 student reviews to reveal our top 20 league table of the best Students’ Unions in the UK as decided by students! So rather than relying on glossy brochures or fancy websites, you can find out which universities rank best for UK students.
What does a Students’ Union do?
A university’s Students’ Union is so much more than just a good night out! Students’ Unions can be one of the most important sources of independent advice and support whilst at university, so it's important to know what they offer and how well they support students.
As a union, they are there to represent their members. Union Executive Committee members meet regularly with the university leadership team to raise student concerns and campaign on your behalf. That makes them one of the most important sources of student voice at uni.
Students’ Unions also set up and provide student clubs and societies which are all part and parcel of the university experience, helping you make friends beyond your course and accommodation. On top of that, many unions provide opportunities to grow skills as well as volunteering experiences, either through student societies or workshops.
They provide independent advice:
“The student union team are always really friendly and offer advice that is independent from the University." [University of Plymouth #7]
They create vital community:
“Big student union which makes you feel part of a community.” [University of Sheffield #1]
And host great nights out:
"Very good student Union for nightlife" [University of Dundee #17]
The Students’ Union is an important part of uni life.
Find out about the rest of StudentCrowd’s Best University Awards 2021 here.
Published: 29th July 2021
The University of Sheffield
“Big student union which makes you feel part of a community.”
Sheffields' Students' Union tops our union league table and it is easy to see why. The student-led union has over 350 clubs and societies that cover a wide range of interests but you also have the option to start your own society for whatever your passion may be! The Union's purpose is to represent, support and enhance the lives of students, so student voice is at the heart of everything they do.
"The union (even with corona) have been putting on as many events as they can. They have done everything possible to make my first year at uni as good as it can be. It’s so unique to every other university with such a community feel."
The voices, opinions, wishes and needs of students are at the heart of Loughborough Students’ Union. The Union is uniquely placed to represent students, as its owned and managed by students themselves. There are plenty of clubs and societies to join, as well as opportunities to get involved with volunteering and working for the Students’ Union, who believe there is more to university life than just the academic side; social and personal development are also important in having a unique university experience.
University of Brighton
"The union is great and personally messages everyone individually during the pandemic to check how we were."
The University of Brighton's Students' Union has received glowing reports from students who were impressed that they personally checked up on every student during the pandemic. As well as having offering 100 societies, running sports services and hosting events throughout the year, they are living up to their motto: "here to make student life better".
University of Cambridge
"There are loads of clubs and societies to get involved in, at both a college and university level, and plenty of support if you want to set up your own society."
Not only does Cambridge Students' Union offer an impressive range of over 700 clubs and societies, it also seeks to create a plethora of opportunities for students to develop new skills. A passion for student representation runs through everything they do. Cambridge Students' Union actively works to ensure every student has access to a great university experience, whether that's through campaigning on key student issues or its second-to-none Student Advice Service. No matter who you are, or where you come from, Cambridge Students' Union will be on hand to support you.
University of St Andrews
"The Union is great, it has a club attached for those who like that vibe or else there are other pubs/ bars around town."
The University of St Andrew’s Students’ Union exists solely for their students and that shapes everything they do! Facilities such as equipment hire, advocacy, design and more can be found in the Hub. There are also a myriad of support services for students in different situations, for example accommodation help, mental health guidance, safety in all aspects of university life and more.
"The student union have been great and really creative with their ideas- definitely enjoyed the free roast dinners on a sunday!"
Bangor's Students' Union is led by elected student representatives with the aim of enhancing the student experience. Bangor SU has student opinion at the centre of everything they do, regularly researching their students experience and how the Union can help improve it. Alongside the numerous opportunities offered at Bangor's SU, there are also several campaigns to help improve students experience at university.
University of Plymouth
"The student union team are always really friendly and offer advice that is independent from the University which is nice."
The University of Plymouth Students’ Union supports its students in a wide range of ways, from support services, events and development opportunities. A whopping 8,281 hours have been logged this year by students giving back to the community. There is also a dedicated advice centre covering a wide range of student issues such as academic, accommodation, money, student finance and wellbeing. This centre is independent, so students also don’t have to worry about confidentiality.
Nottingham Trent University (NTU)
"Great uni, amazing societies and sport facilities and good student union. Love location of campus too."
Nottingham Trent Students' Union is representative of their students' voices and provides a range of opportunities and support. Not only do they offer over 160 clubs and societies, they aim to empower students to give them the best academic and personal experience. NTU’s vision to create positive change for their students is aimed at ensuring they get the most out of their time at university.
University of Greenwich
"The student union of Greenwich is always accessible and ready to help the students in every way possible."
Greenwich Students' Union provides significant amounts of support for their students with the services and opportunities they offer. StudentCrowd users have reported that the Union is accessible for everyone and ready to help every student in every way. The Union boasts many clubs and societies which hold events and competitions throughout the year, and provide opportunities for students to get involved in to campaign on important issues, develop leadership skills and connect with their peers.
University of Bath
"Good facilities across the site and as you might expect, excellent sports! Lots of coffee shops and eateries although nearly all are SU owned so price and variety are a little fixed."
Bath Students' Union aims to grow and support their students by providing them with a plethora of opportunities. The campus has SU-owned coffee shops and eateries so students can enjoy a catch up with friends or a break from studying, all at student friendly prices. There are numerous student events hosted throughout the year including fairs, cultural trips and music events to make students' university experience as memorable as possible.
University of Leeds
"Good student union with delicious food and also the food markets every Monday on the campus itself."
Leeds Students' Union has a mission to make their students feel good, be valued members of the SU and be ready for their future. They run several events for their students including day trips, exercise classes and hosting a food market on campus every Monday. There are several support services in place for students to take full advantage of including a dedicated health and wellbeing project, which provides information and hosts workshops for students to take care of themselves at university.
University of East Anglia
"The UEA campus is amazing... and the student union is always busy because it’s the hub of the uni..."
Not only does UEA offer a huge range of clubs and societies, they also help students transform themselves during the time they spend at university. StudentCrowd users have said the Union is always lively as it is at the hub of the university with shops, bars, clubs and study spaces. UEA SU provides several development opportunities across lots of areas for their students, so there really is something for everyone.
University of Liverpool
"The student union is good offering cheap pints, pool and quizzes."
The Liverpool Guild of Students is home to services all for students. They aim to improve, develop and enrich student experiences throughout their whole university journey, from a prospective student to alumni. There are lots of opportunities to participate in volunteering projects, events and even get support from professionals and fellow students.
University of Glasgow
"Student Union provides a lot of useful information including careers information, professional lectures and so on."
Glasgow Students' Union's mission is to increase diversity as well as enhance the student experience. Alongside the array of clubs and societies on offer at Glasgow, there are numerous events throughout the year from debate training and quizzes, to open mic nights. There are plenty of opportunities on offer at the Union to get involved with, many being committee positions which can be a great addition to your CV!
University of Exeter
"I haven’t personally heard a lot from students union or what they’re up to, but they handled issues with grading due to covid very well."
Exeter Students' Union's full-time officers represent student interests in order to provide their students with a fun and memorable university experience. StudentCrowd users have left positive reviews on how proactive the Union has been in supporting students during the pandemic, as well as providing up-to-date student information on their site. Their advice services ensure students are well supported through their university journey. Alongside the wide range of clubs and societies on offer, Exeter SU also hosts several events throughout the year to keep students entertained!
University of Birmingham
"Great campus and facilities, active student union and plethora of societies."
In addition to providing a vast array of clubs and societies at the University of Birmingham, their Students' Union also makes sure students get the most out of their time at university. The SU provides numerous job opportunities and helps students have fun outside of study time, develop new skills and provides enhancing social experiences.
Manchester Metropolitan University
"So many opportunities regarding societies and the union, and all the facilities are top-notch or being improved."
Manchester Metropolitan's Students' Union actively work to support their students in every aspect of their university life. They encourage and aid students to lead their own projects and make the changes they want to see across campus, in the local area and further afield. The Union has an impressive range of student advice services as well as several clubs and societies to choose from, and all money raised by the Union is invested back in to developing it.
University of Dundee
"Very good student Union for nightlife and daytime social engagements."
Unlike lots of other universities, Dundee's students automatically become members of their Students' Union. There are numerous development opportunities for students to get involved in and meet new, like-minded people, such as volunteering, RAG, job opportunities, clubs and societies. The Union also offers lots of support and advice for students across various topics in order to help students with any issues they may face at university.
University of Reading
"Reading is one of the best universities in the world, ranking in the top 1% of world universities...I loved my time there. It is a vibrant, stimulating community with great facilities in a lovely parkland campus..."
The University of Reading Students’ Union’s aim is to improve student experience. As the SU is independent of the university, students are welcome to seek advice from an unbiased standpoint. There are lots of part-time jobs on offer, as well as the opportunity to volunteer. For those interested in a career in media, why not try volunteering for the Spark newspaper, Junction11 radio or the Campus News Show?
"I am loving my experience at Northumbria. Weekly quizzes at Habita are always fun, support is great from the students union. The library facilities are outstanding and the societies are a lot of fun."
In addition to the 100+ societies offered at Northumbria, there are lots of support services available to their students. Northumbria Students' Union have a team of Sabbatical Officers dedicated to representing students and making improvements to the student experience. The Union provides several venues such as clubs, bars, coffee shops, workspaces and chill out zones to give students the best university experience possible.
Think your university deserves to be in the StudentCrowd top 20? Leave a review now for our 2022 University Awards!