Newcastle University Students' Union

Newcastle University Students' Union (NUSU) is the students' union of Newcastle University in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It is an organisation with the intention of representing and providing services and welfare for the students of University of Newcastle upon Tyne. It was originally set up as the Union Society and changed to its present name in 2011. It is not affiliated with the National Union of Students (NUS).

Newcastle University Students' Union
InstitutionNewcastle University
LocationUnion building, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Established1881 as the Junior Union Society
Sabbatical officers
  • President: Katie Smyth
  • Education Officer: Pablo Charro de la Fuente
  • Welfare and Equality Officer: Sara Elkhawad
  • Activities Officer: Eleanor Killner
  • Athletic Union Officer: Joe Gubbins
  • Postgraduate Officer: Karina Juliana Sorrels
  • Editor of the Courier: Grace Dean
  • Chris Simpson, Jon Bennett, Ben Sadler (sabbatical trustees)
  • Tom Lowe, Bridget Donaldson (student trustees)
WebsiteOfficial website

The Students' Union is run by seven sabbatical officers and nine part-time unpaid officer positions. It also employs around 300 people in ancillary roles including bar staff and entertainment organisers.

Students' Union Building

Unlike the majority of other students' unions in the United Kingdom, Newcastle University Students' Union owns the building where it is housed. The Union building was built in 1924 following a generous gift from an anonymous donor, who is believed to have been Sir Cecil Cochrane, a major benefactor to the university.[3] It is built in the neo-Jacobean style and was designed by the local architect Robert Burns Dick whose firm designed the Laing Art Gallery, the towers of the Tyne Bridge and The Spanish City in Whitley Bay. It was opened on 22 October 1925 by the Rt. Hon. Lord Eustace Percy, who later served as Rector of King's College from 1937 to 1952. In 1987 the Students' Union was made a Grade II listed building.[4]

The building was originally split in two with one union for men and one for women. In the 1960s the university funded a significant extension, known as the 'flying wing'. This was given to the union for a 99-year lease with a peppercorn rent. The modernist copper-clad extension, which is part of the Hadrian Building, was designed by Sir William Whitfield who also designed the Northern Stage.[5][6] A debating chamber which hung over Kings Road was also built, though it was demolished in 2003.[7]

In 2010 the university donated £8 million towards a redevelopment project for the Union Building.[8] This work won the Education Interior Design category of the National Mixology Interior Design Awards 2011.[9]

The building houses Luther's – the student union bar, the Student Advice Centre (SAC) and food outlets including Subway and Domino's, along with a number of offices and rooms for its members. In the basement is Venue, a nightclub and event space, with space for 1,400 people.[10] Artists that have performed at Students' Union include Maxïmo Park,[11] Snow Patrol, Coldplay,[12] George Ezra and The 1975. The union building also houses a printers and a branch of Santander.


NUSU is made from a merger of several earlier student organisations. The oldest of these was the Junior Union Society, founded in 1881, which arranged debates and dances for the Durham colleges in Newcastle. From 1914 to 1925 Newcastle Union Society and the Durham Union Society collaborated with a shared president and vice-president selected alternatively from the two divisions.[13] The previous Union Society dealt almost solely with student societies and entertainment and was governed by a Union Management Committee. The committee was composed of the President (in the Chair), the Lady President, two Vice Presidents (one male, one female), the Secretary, and various members of staff from King's College (including the Bursar and the Society Steward). This structure remained in varying forms until the 1950s.

The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) of Armstrong College was formed in 1900 to represent all students, in matters of policy, to the Board of Professors. It remained a separate entity from the Union Society. In 1937 it became the SRC of King's College, and subsequently for Newcastle University when it disaffiliated from Durham University in 1963.[6] The management of the Union building was run by a board of trustees appointed by the University Council.

In 1985, the SRC was merged into the Union Society. This put the student council and its elected student representatives in full control of the union. In 1990 the union also went through significant restructuring after a period of poor management and high debts.[6]

The Union Society became a limited company, with a board of trustees, in 2009.[14] In 2011 it also became an independent charity after completing the legal requirements and registering with the Charity Commission. This coincided with a name change to Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU).[15]

In 2017, the Students' Union voted to rename the student bar from Mensbar to Luther's, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the honorary doctorate awarded to Martin Luther King Jr. by the university in 1967. The previous name came from the fact it was initially male-only, originally Men's bar, and from the motto - ‘Mens Agitat Molem’ – of the Armstrong College.[16][6]

National Union of Students

In May 2016, NUSU held a referendum on their membership of the NUS. A 67 per cent majority of students voted to end the affiliation. The then NUSU president Dominic Fearon said students felt the NUS “no longer represents their views, does not prioritise correctly, and is not effective at achieving change.”[17] A second referendum was held in December 2018 with the result being to not re-affiliate with 52% of the vote, and a turnout of only 4%.[18]

Clubs and societies

Newcastle Students' Union has over 160 registered student societies in many different areas from the 20 Minute Society to Zumba.[19] There are also 65 sports clubs run through the Athletic Union (AU).[20] Students are able to set up their own societies. For a society to become ratified it must have 15 members as well as an executive committee which consists of a president, secretary and treasurer. Any student is eligible to become a member of a society and the typical membership fee is £5.

Elected Officers

Newcastle University Students' Union is run by seven full-time Sabbatical Officers and eight unpaid part-time "Liberation Officers". The sabbatical officers work as full-time employees of the Students' Union whilst the part-time officers complete the role alongside their studies. In September 2019, the Students' Union introduced the seventh sabbatical officer position, the Postgraduate Officer. They are responsible for representing students studying, both taught and research, postgraduate courses such as master's degrees and PhD's. The role is only open to students who have previously studied at postgraduate level.

Officers are elected usually in March via a cross-campus vote typically preceded by a four-day campaign period. All Newcastle University students are eligible to vote in elections via the Student Union website. Officers officially begin their roles in July of the year in which they are elected. The election period typically sees candidates canvassing around campus and student accommodation sites as well as participate in debates facilitated by the Students' Union and in more recent years, The Courier, NSR and NUTV. The results of the elections are typically announced on the Friday of elections week often in a live-show format held within the Students' Union. Newcastle University Students' Union currently uses a transferable voting system which allows students to vote for candidates for each position in order of preference as well as vote to re-open nominations (RON) if the student does not feel any candidates are appropriate for the role.

Student media

The Courier is a weekly free student newspaper. Established in 1948, the current weekly readership is around 12,000, most of whom are students at the university. It is published every Monday during term time.[21] The Courier has won The Guardian's Student Newspaper of the Year award in 1994, 2012 and 2013.[22] The Courier is edited by a number of section sub-editors who are all Newcastle University students.[23] The Courier also has a head editor who works full-time editing the newspaper. The role is currently a sabbatical officer role and is therefore elected by Newcastle University students for a one-year term. The current editor is Grace Dean.[24]

Newcastle Student Radio (NSR) is an award-winning student radio station based in the university, which broadcasts 24 hours a day. It host's music alongside news, sport and talk programs.[25] The station aims to cater for a wide range of musical tastes, from Metal and Punk to R&B and swing music.

NUTV, known as TCTV from 2010–17, is a student television channel first established in 2007. NUTV's output is on-demand on its YouTube channel and through live broadcasts. It covers events such as student council and sports as well as student-made dramas, cookery programmes and fashion shows. It is affiliated with The National Student Television Association (NaSTA) and has links to the Royal Television Society.[26]

Notable former officers

See also


  1. "Your Voice". NUSU. Newcastle University Students' Union. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  2. "Board Of trustees". NUSU. Newcastle University Students' Union. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  3. Bettenson, E (1971). The University of Newcastle upon Tyne: a historical introduction, 1834–1971. University of Newcastle upon Tyne. ISBN 0-900565-32-2.
  4. Historic England. "Students' Union (1355263)". National Heritage List for England.
  5. "Sir William Whitfield obituary". The Guardian. 3 April 2019.
  6. "The History Of The Union Society". Archived from the original on 19 July 1997.
  7. "Union Debating Chamber". Newcastle University SINE Project. 2004. Archived from the original on 5 March 2012.
  8. "Newcastle University building revamp starts". BBC News. 7 November 2010.
  9. "Union wins Interior Design Award..." NUSU. 22 November 2011. Archived from the original on 2 December 2011.
  10. "The Venue". NUSU.
  13. "Catalogue of Durham University Records Associations and Societies Date range of material: 1846 - 2012". Durham University Library. January 2014. p. 158.
  14. "Newcastle University Students' Union". Companies House.
  15. "Newcastle University Senate" (PDF). Newcastle University. 12 April 2011.
  16. "New name for Newcastle University's Student Union Mensbar revealed". Evening Chronicle. 11 March 2017.
  17. "Newcastle University Students' Union becomes second to disaffiliate from the NUS in a week". The Independent. 12 May 2016.
  18. "NUSU to remain out of NUS". NUSU. 7 December 2018.
  19. NUSU - Societies List
  20. NUSU - Sports clubs
  21. "Contact us". The Courier. Archived from the original on 12 March 2010.
  22. "Newcastle University's the Courier wins student publication of the year". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  23. "Sub-Editor – The Courier Online". Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  24. "Editor of the Courier". Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  25. "NSR – Newcastle Student Radio. About Us". Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  26. "NUTV". Newcastle University Students' Union. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
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