Setting up a students' union

There are many reasons why students may want to establish a students’ union. At one level they may just want to create a social focus on campus, at another level it may be out of concern for the way courses are being taught in the college and students want a body to make representations to the college authorities.  

Whatever the case, it is important that students are clear why they want a students’ union.

Talk to as many students as possible

When setting up a students union, the most important step is often to get people talking. Talk to as many students as possible.

You will need to sell the idea, but for any of the later stages to succeed, there needs to be a level of informal discussion amongst students so that when you hold the first meeting they come along to see what the fuss is all about.

Plan the next stages with a group of students

Hopefully, as you discuss the idea, you will find more people who are enthusiastic about it and are prepared to help. Get a small group together (from different groups in the college if possible) to plan the next stages which will involve:

Don't restrict your group to immediate friends, otherwise you will be seen as a clique and possibly viewed with suspicion.

Liaise with a sympathetic member of staff

It will be positive to liaise with a sympathetic member of staff. Colleges of further education will probably have a student liaison officer (or staff advisor) who will be able to explain college procedures and give support.

The next step is to call a meeting of all students

You could hold it at a time when students are together anyway. If this is not possible try and get the Principal to cancel a lecture or extend the lunch hour so that people have a chance to hear all the arguments and decide what they want.

It is important to get as many students to attend as possible. You will need to put up posters and give out leaflets, but the most effective way is one to one contact with students.

Detailed specialist advice for further education institutions

For a more specialist guide on setting up a students' union in a further education institution please have a browse through our additional guide.