An international student’s guide to the Student Union

All UK universities have one. It’s an essential part of UK university life, but not all international students know what the Students’ Union is and what it can do for them.

What is a Students’ Union?

The National Union of Students (the NUS) is a organisation that supports and promotes students’ rights and issues. Each UK university has its own Student Union, and as a student studying with us you can choose to join the NUS via the University of Brighton Students’ Union (SU).

The NUS is nearly 100 years old and has a long history of championing causes that affect students.Click here to find out more about the history of the NUS. The NUS a successful business in its own right. The University of Brighton SU runs on-campus shops, cafes ad bars. It has full and part-time employees, as well as taking on student sabbatical officers for short term placements.

Why join the NUS?

Support when things don’t go to plan

You will get access to all the support services the NUS and your SU has to offer, should you need them. Services include support with housing, problems with your course, bullying, money worries and more. Click here to view how the SU can help you.

Starting university – Freshtival & Year-round events

The first week of term is an extremely formative part of your university experience. You will meet people who will most likely become lifelong friends. The SU Freshtival events are a celebration of the start of university and are designed to get you out and about and meeting fellow students.

Throughout the year the SU hosts many events, including trips and end of year parties. Click here to view the events calendar.

Student discounts

Perhaps the greatest advantage of joining the NUS is that you will get student discounts in many shops, restaurants and for other services. From Spotify to the Coop supermarket, take a look at what the NUS discount card (called the NUS Extra Card) can offer you.

Employment and sabbatical opportunities

Each university has a Students’ Union (SU). The SU runs various shops, cafés and bars on university campuses at affordable prices. Find out where your local SU shop and café is here.

Student Societies

Student run societies are an integral part of the SU. Student Societies are groups or clubs formed and run by students around a particular interest, hobby, skill, religion or cause. The University of Brighton SU has over 100 student societies, including an international student society based at the Brighton and Eastbourne campus.

As an international student we strongly recommend that you join the International Student Society (IntSoc) as well as other societies which share similar interests to yourself. It’s a wonderful way to maintain aspects of your home culture whilst you are in the UK, as well as meeting new friends.


If you’re interested in competitive or recreational sports, the SU runs a comprehensive programme of recreational sporting activities via its Parklife programme. Regular exercise can help with stress, sleep and promoting mental health and wellbeing, and you’ll also get to meet like-minded people too. Take a look at the Parklife programme here.

Work experience & employment

Working at the SU is a great way to find work on campus, and gains valuable and transferable work skills. Whether you’re interested in a sabbatical or placement officer role, or a part-time paid post in a shop or café the SU recruits all year round. Click here to view current vacancies.

Useful links & reading

The University of Brighton Students’ Union (SU)

The National Union of Students (NUS)

UKCISA information about Student Unions


Brighton student unionNUSNUS discountStudent unionSU

Sarah Digon • June 5, 2017

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