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Students’ union participation report launches

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NUS has now launched Mapping Participation, a research report focussed on tracking students’ union participation and understanding the motivations and barriers to involvement. The research brings together many of the key activities in the students’ union and looks at the paths that students take to involvement.

Students’ unions face a variety of challenges to engaging students. From accessibility problems such as institutions with a high proportion of commuter students to a lack of student knowledge about the democratic processes of the union, a variety of barriers to participation exist. This report looks to combat some of these barriers by supporting all types of students to become involved in the students’ union experience.

In a survey of over 6,000 higher education students, results showed that while most students participate in some type of activity with the students’ union, the majority of these involved students participate in clubs and societies and not in campaigning and standing for elected positions, which suggests that there is room for increased participation at a deeper level, particularly in the democratic processes.  

Several key factors were found to influence students to participate on a deeper level. Focus group research revealed that meeting people involved in the students’ union, discovering a need or problem that requires a change and involvement in club and society committees were some of the key factors to increased engagement with the students’ union.

The report provides 10 recommendations that students’ unions can use to help support increased and deepened participation:

  1. Get out and talk to students face to face
  2. Focus on communication
  3. Support brand recognition
  4. Get the ‘leaders’ on board with the students’ union
  5. Think outside the Freshers’ box
  6. Continue to get to know your students and share research
  7. Continue to support the union’s physical space
  8. Let students know about your wins
  9. Consider the accessibility of students’ union language
  10.  Find students at their point of interest


Click here to download the full report.

For any further questions please contact Fiona Ellison, Project Manager.


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