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Worst Russell Group Students' Unions

These are the worst Russell Group Students’ Unions in 2023, according to students

Uh oh – a third of Russell Group students think their SU is doing a bad job


For a lot of students, their Students’ Union is just an annoying set of emails that get lost in the bottomless pit of emails you get every week. Although they can do some good stuff for students, a lot of the time students’ unions fail to actually connect with the students they are supposed to be representing.

So, in this year’s National Student Survey, one of the questions students were asked was: “How well does the Students’ Union represent students’ academic interests?” Students could answer very well, well, not very well and not at all well.

Of the 66,588 Russell Group students who answered this question, 66.43 per cent of students think their SU is doing a good job. This is, however, up 13 per cent since 2021.

At the top of the ranking, Cardiff University students felt the most represented by their SU but, at the other end of the spectrum, at Durham, only 33.8 per cent of students thought their Students’ Union was actually doing a good job.

Durham’s SU Academic Officer said: “One clear trend in the data is that Durham is not good at listening to its students. It is the SU’s duty to ensure our members are heard, and we recognise that there is still significant room for improvement.”

So these are the Russell Group university SUs ranked from best to worst, according to students:

1. Cardiff University

With 75.69 per cent of students feeling their Students’ Union represents them, Cardiff has officially the best Russell Group SU.

2. Imperial College London

73.39 per cent of Imperial students felt represented by their Students’ Union. 453 students thought their SU represented them “very well”.

3. University College London

4,240 UCL students answered this question and 73 per cent were happy with their Students’ Union in 2023.

4. University of Glasgow

At Glasgow, 72.5 per cent of the 2,549 students surveyed thought their Students’ Union was doing a good job.

5. University of Liverpool

As the fifth best Russell Group Students’ Union, 72.48 per cent of Liverpool students were happy with their SU.

6. Queen’s University Belfast

As the fifth best Russell Group Students’ Union, 72.48 per cent of Liverpool students were happy with their SU.

6. Queen’s University Belfast

Of all Manchester students surveyed, 69.75 per cent thought their Students’ Union was doing a good job.

8. Newcastle University

As the eighth best Russell Group SU, 69.34 per cent of Newcastle students felt represented by their Students’ Union.

9. King’s College London

3,357 students answered this question at King’s. Of these, 68.9 per cent of students were happy with their SU.

10. University of Exeter

At Exeter, 3,880 students took the survey and 2,661 said their Students’ Union was doing a good job. This works out at 68.58 per cent of students.

11. University of Nottingham

Nearly 5,000 Notts students answered the question and 67.56 per cent said they were happy with their Students’ Union.

12. London School of Economics

At LSE, 65.7 per cent of students felt represented by their Students’ Union.

13. University of Warwick

With 630 students saying their felt very represented by their SU, 64,41 per cent of Warwick students felt positively about their Students’ Union.

14. University of York

At York, 63.36 of students thought their Students’ Union was doing a good job. 314 students said they felt “very” represented by their SU and 1,054 said they felt “well” represented.

15. University of Birmingham

Of 3,904 Birmingham students who answered this question, 63.19 per cent were happy with their Students’ Union.

16. University of Bristol

Bristol’s SU is the fifth worst Russell Group Students’ Union with 62.5 per cent of its students thinking it does a good job.

17. University of Leeds

At Leeds, of the 3,930 students that took the survey, 782 felt their SU represented them “very well” and 2,169 “well”, this means that 59.86 per cent of students were happy with their Students’ Union.

18. University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh had the third lowest percentage of students being happy with their SU. 59.5 per cent of students at Edinburgh felt their interests were being represented by their Students’ Union.

19. Queen Mary University of London

Queen Mary has the second worst Students’ Union in the country. Of the 2,387 students who answered this question, 52.62 per cent felt positively about their SU.

20. Durham University

And with only 33.8 per cent of students thinking their SU does a good job, The University of Durham has the worst Students’ Union out of all the Russell Group universities. 1,040 Durham students said that their Students’ Union represents their interests “not at all well” and 895 said “not very well”.

Durham’s pro-vice-chancellor for Education, Professor Tony Fawcett, said: “We aim to provide our students with the very best education and wider student experience. This feedback from our final-year students in this year’s survey is encouraging, especially as they have experienced the impact of the global pandemic and, for many, the disruption of industrial action.

“We welcome the feedback we receive from our students through the National Student Survey, as well as in other formats, and listen carefully.As well as telling us what we are doing well, the NSS provides valuable information that helps us to understand where we might improve. We are looking closely at the survey to identify where we can take positive action for the benefit of our current and future students.”

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