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What is a Students' Union?

Written by: UPSU



When you join the University of Plymouth, not only are you enrolling as a student but you also become a member of the Students’ Union, and with that comes a wide range of benefits and opportunities that you have access to.

Our main focus, and our reason for existing, is to support the wellbeing of every student studying with the University. We want to make sure you have a successful, fulfilling and rewarding time both at University and in the future. We do this by helping you: to be empowered, learn and grow; be socially fulfilled; feel more financially secure, and know you are supported and cared for.

But... what is a Students' Union?

When people hear the phrase Students’ Union or SU, what springs to mind for many is a bar and cheap pints. While we do have an award-winning venue, social space and bar to unwind in after a day of lectures, what we are and what we can offer you go so much further than those four walls. Most importantly, we are a student-led organisation – we are a union of students. As a member, your SU belongs to you, you shape what the Students' Union is and does.

Every year you elect a new Sabbatical Officer team. These four representatives lead the organisation, speak on your behalf at high-level meetings and work to implement the changes that you want to see to improve your student experience.

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As an organisation that is led by you, the students, we work hard to ensure that you have the opportunities available to feel empowered and to make your voice heard. We support more than 500 elected part-time student representatives who listen to and collate your feedback to share with University staff to shape and improve your academic experience.

Collectively, we represent your views in University decisions, as well as local and national topics. We campaign for you on issues you care about, as well as providing opportunities for you to meet new people, develop your skills, campaign for change and try something new.

As your SU, we also recognise the importance of developing skills outside your course curriculum to help you get ahead when your time at University comes to an end. That’s why we offer free and discounted training opportunities on a range of topics that will help you in your future career. We’re also passionate about developing the skills of our dedicated volunteers through training for club or society committee members, student representatives and our members of student staff.




Social fulfilment


Starting university is effectively starting a new chapter of your life, and this can be daunting – for many, starting university means moving away from home, adjusting to a new environment and/or preparing to find a new group of friends. If this has crossed your mind, you are not alone.

We work hard to build opportunities for you to meet new, like-minded people. We support 40+ different sports clubs and 90+ societies, each of which is its own individual family ready to welcome new members with open arms. If you currently have a particular passion or interest, check out the full list of clubs and societies on our website.

If you’re undecided, then you can try our Give it a Go programme, browse our volunteering opportunities – which can be tailored to fit around your studies or consider joining one of our academic societies to meet other students from your course outside of the lecture hall.

Finally, our building, located in the heart of campus, offers you a social space to catch up with friends or grab a coffee, plus a busy events schedule throughout term time to keep you entertained.




Financial security


There are no two ways about it: starting university is an amazing opportunity but it’s also a financial (and personal) commitment. We want to ensure that you feel you’re getting the experience that you deserve for the best possible value.

Our independent Advice Centre saves University of Plymouth student hundreds of thousands of pounds each year by helping them to submit claims, access appropriate benefits and navigate through their Student Finance applications.

Furthermore, if you’re looking to earn while you learn, we employ over 200 members of student staff in a variety of roles from running our award-winning bar, preparing coffee in ourcafé, serving customers in our shop or providing technical assistance at our events.





Our student population is a diverse community of individuals, coming from many different walks of life, each with passions and needs but brought together and connected by one institution.

As such, we work to provide platforms and forums in which you can tell us how you need us to support you. Being a part of the SU gives you access to many different types of support. There may be times during your studies when you need help; maybe things haven’t gone to plan or you just need that extra bit of support or guidance. This is perfectly natural, and we are on hand when you need us. As a member of your SU, you have free access to our confidential Advice Centre and our team of dedicated advisors.

Your SU Advice Centre is completely independent from the University, so you can be confident that the advice you receive will be impartial and will not be shared unless absolutely necessary as set out in our privacy statement.

The team offers support on accommodation and financial, academic and wellbeing issues, and will work with you to find a path forward. The best thing about becoming a member of the Students’ Union is that you don’t need to do anything: no sign-ups, no membership fees, no renewals*. You can choose how you want to interact with us.



*Once enrolled, you will be given the option to ‘opt-out of membership to the University of Plymouth Students’ Union. If you choose to opt-out of becoming a member, you won’t be able to purchase event tickets, access support services or join clubs and/or societies through our website.



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