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Best UK Universities for Students’ Union 2022

All of the best UK universities have a Students’ Union that represents and supports its members. As Unions are independent from their associated university, most university league tables do not reflect the value of the Students’ Union. However, Students' Unions are a key part of student life, and should be considered when looking at places to study.

What is a Students’ Union?

A Students' Union exists to represent students and ensure the student voice is heard when running campaigns related to higher education. Most top universities in the United Kingdom have a Students' Union, though sometimes they are titled differently. For example, the Union at the University of Liverpool (#6) is called the Liverpool Guild of Students.

Students’ Unions in the UK also aim to improve the student experience. This is done through organising free events, providing spaces for socialising and studying, and lobbying for better student facilities on campuses. At the University of St Andrews (#2), the Union organises different themes for each week of the semester, to celebrate cultural diversity or raise awareness of important issues.

Student university reviews on StudentCrowd regularly mention how valuable the Students' Union is for creating memorable experiences.

As the central hub for clubs and societies on campus, Students' Unions help students to meet new people and go outside of their comfort zone. If a university website or prospectus mentions social groups, they are usually managed by the Students' Union. Sports clubs, interest groups and cultural socials are some of the ways students can get involved individually with their Union.

How is our top 20 worked out?

Our Top 20 Universities for Students’ Unions is calculated from 15,871 student reviews submitted on StudentCrowd between June 2020 to May 2022 across 10 different categories. We believe our annual University Awards help to showcase universities which students themselves have rated highly for particular aspects of the student experience. They are also the only awards based entirely on authentic student reviews. At StudentCrowd, we only allow reviews verified by a valid ac.uk email address, to ensure all the opinions on our site are expressed by real students. You can read more about our authentic review process here.

We can now reveal the top 20 universities for Students’ Unions in our league table below!

Find out more…

Check out all of the Best UK University Awards 2022 to see all of our UK university rankings across categories like value for money, clubs and societies, job prospects and lots more!

Want to see which unis topped our charts overall? Here's StudentCrowd’s Best UK Universities 2022.

 

The Top 20 UK University Students’ Unions

 #1 

The University of Sheffield

“University has the best students union in the UK and it shows!”

Overall rating
 
 
4.06/5

For the second year running, Sheffield’s Students' Union has been placed on top according to our student reviews. Located in the centre of campus, there is no doubt this Students' Union actively represents and supports the life of Sheffield students. This Union is committed to sustainability and as part of this aim, they host a clothing ‘Swap Shop’, alongside a zero-waste food shop. If students need to grab some food between lectures, the Union has a range of eateries and shops, including an entirely vegetarian and vegan cafe. Fancy a bit of live music? Foundry, the SU’s own venue, frequently showcases music artists from around the country, as well as regular club nights and discos of all music genres.

 

 

 

 #2 

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 aforementioned clubs and societies also put on events of their own throughout the year which are a fab time.”

Overall rating
 
 
3.95/5

Promising to be an advocate for students during academic difficulties and appeals, St Andrews’ Students' Union places student support at the forefront of its priorities. Each semester the Union hosts themed weeks such as ‘Multicultural week’, ‘Wellbeing week’ and ‘Disability Pride’, with events that discuss and highlight issues that impact students the most. The building itself contains a range of facilities open for students to use, including a rehearsal room, meeting rooms, a broadcast studio and design suite. This makes the Union a central hub for hosting the hundreds of societies at St Andrews. As well as social spaces, there are lots of ideal spots for studying in between classes or meeting up with course mates.

 

 

 

 #3 
 

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Cardiff University

“... The students union is a great place to relax, study and get some food.”

Overall rating
 
 
3.92/5

Being the heart of student life at university, Cardiff Students' Union aims to actively engage with students in their new vision. It’s student-led services, which cover mental, physical and sexual health, help to positively support students throughout their time at Cardiff. As for live music and events, The Great Hall and Y Plas venues have capacity of up to 1,500 and have hosted various renowned artists in the past. If exploring outside of the city is on the agenda, the Union organises trips around Wales and beyond (one trip went to Amsterdam!). The Union also provides advice for students on housing and assists in addressing any conflicts between student tenants and landlords.

 

 

 

 #4 

The University of Manchester

“The Students Union is really good, they are completely independent of the university which is rare in modern day universities”

Overall rating
 
 
4.12/5

Manchester’s Students' Union has been around for the last 155 years, providing a central hub for students to study, eat and socialise. There are lots of opportunities for student leadership positions, whether that is running a campaign or being a course representative. During exam season, the Union organises free wellbeing events such as pet therapy, yoga and crafts, making sure all students are looked after. Contributing to Manchester’s iconic musical scene, the Academy venue is a key place for evening entertainment at the Students' Union, with concerts being held there weekly. Additionally, the Union provides over 300 flexible jobs for students - a great option for earning some extra cash alongside studying.

 

 

 

 #5 
 

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University of Reading

“...The student union is friendly and often tries to help whenever they could.”

Overall rating
 
 
4.18/5

Improving student life in Reading is the central aim of the Students' Union, hoping to represent all 20,000 students at the university. The Union puts on the largest club nights in town on Wednesday and Saturday nights, as well as roller discos and free pool events. All the revenue collected from the various retail outlets funds student activities and campaigns across the Union. The Study is a great space located at the back of the Union, perfect for revising, meeting up with course mates and working on that last minute essay. Contributing your ideas for change in the Union is made simple by the ‘Change It’ online platform hosted by RUSU. They also host meetings for students to put forward ideas and assist in improving the Union.

 

 

 

 #6 

University of Liverpool

“ ...The guild hosts lots of events and the student union works really hard to make sure that everyone is listened to.”

Overall rating
 
 
4.10/5

The Liverpool Guild of Students focuses on enriching students from application to graduation. Through a fun and friendly environment, this Students' Union wants to benefit all members, encouraging students to make the most of this cultural city educationally, but also socially. Offering the infamous £2 pint, The Sphinx and Guild Garden are enjoyable spaces for socialising or watching the latest match with friends. The Union offers advice to students on academic issues as well as personal and accommodation issues. Sustainability is important to the Liverpool Guild of Students, and as part of their green commitments, the Union offers bike hire for the academic year, and opportunities to be a flat sustainability champion in student halls.

 

 

 

 #7 

University of Cambridge

“An amazing University in an amazing city! Probably the best University experience one can get in the UK, with exceptional education, a very diverse and culturally rich student community...”

Overall rating
 
 
4.23/5

Fighting for the needs of students, Cambridge Students' Union pushes for student voices to be heard on campus and in the community. Home to hundreds of societies, the Union is a social hub for activities and meeting new people. The network of academic representatives ensures that all students have the opportunity to share their views and receive support. Union events range from pop-up advice centres to movie nights and musical masterclasses. Each college at Cambridge has a Junior Common Room and Middle Common Room which act as elected representatives for its students. Within the colleges, there are sports, music and special interest societies for students to join, like University Challenge, the Jazz society and Rowing.

 

 

 

 #8 

University of Greenwich

“...The student union of Greenwich is always accessible and ready to help the students in every way possible...”

Overall rating
 
 
4.27/5

Greenwich Students' Union inspires students to become the best they can be at university and into the future. The Union has organised over 30 academic communities, so students have at least one social network from freshers week to final year. Student wellbeing is a top priority at Greenwich, where the Union offers exam anxiety workshops and exam season meal deals, so students can stay fueled on a budget in stressful periods. Looking for a midweek pick-me-up? Candy Shack offers custom milkshakes by day and candy-themed cocktails at night. The Union showcases spaces across their campuses all providing many locations for socialising, meeting new people and studying during term time.

 

 

 

 #9 

Nottingham Trent University (NTU)

“...the Student Union bar and club are a point of pride.”

Overall rating
 
 
3.87/5

Enhancing student life is key for NTU Students' Union. Facilities include The Landing, a 2,000-capacity nightclub venue, The Mezz, a relaxed space for studying and catching up with friends between lectures, and the Retreat, a basement level low-lit space with comfortable seating. As a city centre university, the SU works with local clubbing venues such as Rock City and Stealth to create safe spaces for students when going out. The NTU Skills Swap gives societies the opportunity to share their experiences and knowledge with other groups, providing further chances for mingling and learning something new. Whether it is ice skating lessons or medieval combat taster sessions, each society provides a new skill to try.

 

 

 

 #10 
 

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University of Leeds

“...The Union also run a lot of events e.g. arts and crafts session particularly in freshers week and there’s been dog therapy sessions through the year. There’s also lots of spaces for society meet-ups...”

Overall rating
 
 
4.05/5

LUU is the go-to place for food, advice and (naturally) the Old Bar, the campus pub. The Union building is a central hub featuring multiple cafes, an ice cream parlour, stationery shop, zero-waste shop and Co-op. There are multiple floors of rooms available to use for societies or study groups. In the evenings, the Union venue Stylus hosts various gigs and clubbing events every week, including the renowned Fruity Friday which is Leeds’ longest-running student club night. Being a member-led organisation, any student can make changes to what campaigns are promoted throughout the year. Joblink is LUU’s student job-shop, where you can pick up work on an ad-hoc, flexible basis, helping students to balance education and earn extra cash.

 

 

 

 #11 

University of Birmingham

“A great and genuine University focused on quality of study and welfare of its students.”

Overall rating
 
 
4.13/5

Ensuring students have a distinctive Birmingham experience, the Birmingham Guild of Students aims to support, represent and entertain. The Union hosts a network of support for students, including a Student Mentor scheme, which focuses on helping new students in university accommodation. With over 300 societies to join, you can become part of the diverse and vibrant community. In terms of entertainment, whether it's a bar crawl, ceilidh or relaxation workshop, there is something for everyone. Every Saturday the Union hosts Fab ‘n’ Fresh, their longest running club night, with different genres of music per room. Located in the centre of campus, the Union is a solid hub for Birmingham students to eat, drink and socialise throughout the year.

 

 

 

 #12 

Robert Gordon University (RGU)

“Beautiful campus amazing staff and union. Just a lovely place to be”

Overall rating
 
 
4.42/5

RGU’s Students' Union recognises that student living isn’t just about education, it is about the entire experience: meeting new people, being adventurous and exploring opportunities. The Union building is a hub for socialising, with pool, games consoles and arcade games available for any student to enjoy. Thought of an idea for a new society? This Union runs an ideas board where students can propose society ideas and vote for their favourites. RGU Union also runs a support system, perfect if students need some ad-hoc advice on university life or just a listening ear. The Duke of Edinburgh award group is an adventurous way to meet new people and explore the surroundings, or students can join the men's or women's gaelic football teams too!

 

 

 

 #13 
 

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Bangor University

“...The students union has done their best with the current pandemic, so can't fault them for the events that have been put on, which have followed the rules and still engaged students at the uni...”

Overall rating
 
 
4.23/5

The Students' Union at Bangor is called Undeb Bangor (the word ‘Undeb’ means Union in Welsh). Hoping to empower students to influence change and shape the academic experience of those at Bangor University, the Union encourages student leadership and network-building amongst its members. This is accomplished through the hundreds of society choices and options for coordinating events within these groups. For example, the surf society meet every week on the coast of Anglesey and the Disney society organises movie nights and quizzes; the options for social events are endless! On campus, Bar Uno is the central hotspot for watching sporting events with friends, or just grabbing a pint on a Friday evening with course mates.

 

 

 

 #14 

Loughborough University

“Though the students Union isn't my first port of call usually, nights out when all 3 rooms were open and accessible for FND and hey EWE were incredible and incomparable to elsewhere.”

Overall rating
 
 
4.23/5

Loughborough Students’ Union offers students a university experience that expands beyond academics. Whether it is spaces to relax with puppy petting or board games after exams in the Summer, the Union has an event for every kind of student. Home to the biggest clubbing venue in town, students can purchase a LSU Season Pass, providing access to all the club nights throughout the term. As sports is a central part of Loughborough University, the Athletic Union creates more opportunities for students to take part in sports, regardless of ability level. Considering starting a business alongside studying? Enterprise encourages students to kick-start their ideas into reality with funding, business advice sessions and networking opportunities.

 

 

 

 #15 

Northumbria University

“Students union is very good and has a lot to offer...”

Overall rating
Campus/Facilities
 
3.15/5

Working hard to have a positive impact on students, Northumbria Students’ Union hosts and invests in over 100 different societies. In 2021, NSU invested over £100,000 into these groups for activities and volunteer events. The award-winning Union bar Habita offers live sport and weekly quiz/karaoke nights. As the Union is independent of the university, they are able to offer external advice on academic appeals, misconduct and complaints. They also organise the election of programme reps to represent individual courses and sections of the university, so students have an accessible member to discuss specific issues. There are many societies on offer, including the dog walking society, which allows students to borrow local dogs for the day!

 

 

 

 #16 

University of East Anglia (UEA)

“...Student Union and... student reps have done well this year with getting a rent rebate, making extensions free of requiring evidence (from Jan 21 to Mar 21) and letting final years get a better overall grade if there grades were better last year. Great work.”

Overall rating
 
 
3.86/5

As the UEA Students’ Union is run by students, the priorities change year on year, ensuring that the Union is always up-to-date with what its current members want from university life and how they can enhance the student world. Being student-run makes the Union a popular spot for socialising and studying. For example, Unio Coffee is an ethically-focussed coffee shop on campus managed by students at UEA. The Scholar’s Bar is a dedicated space for those who are postgraduate or mature students, found within the Graduate Centre, making a space that feels exclusively graduate-friendly. Nighttime entertainment is generally found in The LCR, a venue that hosts weekly club nights and gigs, as well as special events like balls at the end of term.

 

 

 

 #17 

University of Bradford

“I am a part of many clubs and societies and I am very happy to be a part of the Student Union”

Overall rating
 
 
4.24/5

UBU complements student life in Bradford, whether that is joining a cultural society or ensuring the safety and wellbeing of those studying in this northern city. Starting university can be quite daunting, so UBU created Kickstart, an engagement programme that organises weekend residential trips for freshers. Students can pay just £10 to join these events, making it an accessible way to make friends and enjoy the weekends. The Union also offers local volunteering opportunities, such as working with the Bradford Science and Media Museum or various Yorkshire charities. Over 30 individual and team sports societies meet each week, with a range of abilities and sessions for continuing or trying out a new sport whilst at university.

 

 

 

 #18 
 

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University of Bristol

“...The Student Union is first rate, there is honestly something for everyone there....”

Overall rating
 
 
4.11/5

Bristol SU is all about representing students on the issues that matter most: wellbeing, housing and education, making university life less stressful and more memorable. The Bristol SU building is full of spaces to unwind and relax with friends. There are distinct rooms for society meet-ups like the pottery room, dance studio and photographic dark room. Want to take part in sports without the pressures to train or play regularly? The Intramural social sports league at Bristol SU enables anyone to start a team and play sports including football, hockey, badminton, volleyball and netball. For those who want to start a new society, Bristol SU offers workshops on time management, campaigning and organising trips to make your society idea come to life!

 

 

 

 #19 
 

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University of Glasgow

“The university provides many conveniences for students, such as the new study building. Student Union provides a lot of useful information including careers information, professional lectures and so on.”

Overall rating
Campus/Facilities
 
3.44/5

Within Glasgow’s grand Students' Union building, complete with period features throughout, this Union has been running since 1885. This historic setting is contrasted with the modern HIVE nightclub, located in the same building! For the last 112 years, GUU has organised the annual ‘Daft Friday’ end of term 12-hour party for its students. But for those who can't wait to dance, the Union hosts HIVE Thursdays, which is the most popular student night in Glasgow. As well as late-night entertainment, GUU is home to one of the best debating Unions in the world, having been declared British and Irish champions 16 times. GUU runs weekly public speaking sessions for members to try and hosts regular debates in its debate chamber.

 

 

 

 #20 
 

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Swansea University

“Great university to study in!...the student Union is super helpful!”

Overall rating
 
 
4.09/5

Swansea Students' Union represents the whole student body at Swansea University. Ensuring that students are supported, feel empowered and have their voices heard has been Swansea SU’s top priority since being established in 1920. The SU’s mission is to give their students the best possible experience whilst studying at Swansea and all students are automatically enrolled into their large and diverse community. Students are able to choose from a huge range of 150 societies, join an elite sports team, get free support from their advice and support team, or relax in the SU Bar. The Union also runs some high-profile events such as the Welsh Varsity and Summer Ball.

 

 

 

 

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