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Student unionism in Asia-Pacific varies throughout the region and sometimes are referred to as A students' union, student government, free student union, student senate, students' association, guild of students or government of student body is a student organization present in many colleges and universities and many high schools. In higher education, the students' union is often accorded its own building on the campus, dedicated to social, organizational activities, representation and academic support of the membership.


Depending on the country: the purpose, assembly, method and implementation of the group might vary. Universally the purpose of students' union or student government is to represent fellow students in some fashion.

In some cases students' unions are run by students, independent of the educational facility. The purpose of these organizations is to represent students both within the institution and externally, including on local and national issues. Students' unions are also responsible for providing a variety of services to students. Depending on the organization's makeup students can get involved in the union by becoming active in a committee, by attending councils and general meetings, or by becoming an elected officer.

Some students' unions are politicized bodies, and often serve as a training ground for aspiring politicians. The combination of the youthful enthusiasm of the various members, a general lack of serious consequences for decisions, and a student media that is itself often partisan, inexperienced, and under no financial pressure to slant coverage to please a broad readership encourages very vigorous campaigning, debate, and political gamesmanship [citation needed]. Students' unions generally have similar aims irrespective of the extent of politicization, usually focusing on providing students with facilities, support, and services.

Some students' unions often officially recognize and allocate an annual budget to other organizations on campus. In some institutions, postgraduate students are within the general students' unions, whereas in others they have their own Postgraduate Representative Body. In some cases, graduate students lack formal representation in student government.

Variations depending on country[edit]

As mentioned before universally the purpose of students' union or student government is to represent fellow students. Many times student's unions usually focusing on providing students with facilities, support, and services. Depending on the country there are different methods of representation compulsory education to Higher education or tertiary.


In Australia, all universities have one or more student organizations. As of July 2006, membership and union fees are voluntary by law.

Australian student unions typically provide such services as eateries, small retail outlets (e.g., newsagencies), student media (e.g., campus newspapers), advocacy, and support for a variety of social, arts, political, recreational, special interest and sporting clubs and societies. Most also operate specialized support services for female, LGBT, international and indigenous students. Many have expressed concerns over the introduction of voluntary student unionism (VSU).

The National Union of Students of Australia represents most student unions at a national level. With VSU becoming law, its future is in doubt.


Azerbaijan Students Union (ASU) was established by students from Baku on 15 September 2008. ASU is an organization which was established on basis of international experience and it was the first student organization which united students irrespective of gender, race, creed, nationality.

During its action period ASU has formed stable structure, presented new suggestions about student policy to appropriate bodies, made close relations with international and regional student organizations, prepared new action plan according to the universities-students-companies' relations in Azerbaijan.

ASU considered international relations very important. For the first time ASU’s delegates were participants of the First Asia IAESTE Forum in Shanghai during 12–15 November 2009. After that forum ASU established close relations with IAESTE which is one of the biggest student exchange organizations. As a result of relations on 21 January 2010 ASU was accepted a member of IAESTE. Our union gained right to represent Azerbaijan students in IAESTE. That membership was the union's first success on international level. During 20–27 January Azerbaijan Students Union was accepted as associative member of IAESTE in 64th Annual Conference in Thailand. Also Azerbaijan Students Union is a full member of European Students' Union.


In China, the student body is called 学生会 (Xuesheng Hui) or 学生联合会 (Xuesheng Lianhe Hui), literally means students' union or students' association. A student association of a particular university, usually plays the role as the organizer of student activities such like holding a party, organizing some interesing matches and so on. The membership in different universities has different functions. Some universities may give the membership a task of recording the students' attendance and the complex grades. Student associations of Chinese universities are mostly under the leadership of Communist Youth League of China, which to a large extent limit its function as an organization purely belonging to students themselves.

Hong Kong[edit]

All universities in Hong Kong except the Open University have students' unions. Most of these students's unions are members of the Hong Kong Federation of Students.[1] Many secondary schools are also having students' unions or equivalence.


India has developed a complex tradition of student politics dating from the era of Congress Party domination. Student unions are organised both within universities, like the Student Council of IISc and across universities, but affiliated with political parties, as in the case of NSUI, ABVP, SFI,etc. The latter compete in elections to control posts in the former. Examples of activist unions include the Delhi University Students Union.

All India Law Students' Association (AILSA) or अखिल भारतीय विधि छात्र संघ is a non-profit association of students and lawyers who are dedicated to the promotion of welfare of law students all over India. AILSA provides students with opportunities to Interact with legal professionals in international arena. The organization's activities include academic conferences, publications, the global coordination of student organizations, Seminars, providing free legal aid Non political student association in India in which NATIONAL STUDENT ASSOCIATION OF INDIA (NSAI)IS THE UNION SURGE FOR STUDENT

All India Students Association, National Students Union of India, Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Students Federation of India are major political Students Union in India.


In Indonesia, every university, college and higher education schools has student union. The student body in senior high school is called Organisasi Siswa Intra Sekolah, abbreviated OSIS, which is the official student organization formed by the government. A general election to choose the leader is usually held every year. OSIS organizes school's activities such as extracurricular and school's music and art show (pentas seni/pensi).


In Japan, the student body is called 学生自治会 (gakusei-jichi-kai). In Japanese, the word 学生自治会 (gakusei-jichi-kai) means students' self-government-organizations. The student body in Japan promotes extracurricular activities. Usually, a cultural association, 文化会 (bunka-kai), and a sports association, 体育会 (taiiku-kai), are included within a student body as autonomous organizations. A student belongs to one or more students' organizations, and he or she does extracurricular activities through these students' organizations. However, the extracurricular activities of universities and colleges have been declining since the 1990s.


Malaysia has 20 public institutions of higher learnings. Each of them has one Student Representative Council (Malay: Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar or MPP) which is the ultimate legislative body among the students. The MPP holds the highest administrative authority in the Student Union of each university. A general election is held every year, usually in September, to elect representatives to the Student Representative Council. The percentage of voter turn-outs are usually high (70% to 95%) largely due to enforcements from the universities' governance which at the same time acts as the Election Committee. The students are represented by two side which is pro-aspiration and pro-students.

Every year, the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education would set meetings and arrange programmes with all MPP. Nevertheless, each MPP has their own autonomous right to govern their own membership. The size of the MPP differs from each university, from as little as 12 person to as many as 50 person. (note: There are no sabbatical officers in the Malaysian Students' Union system. All members of MPP are part-time officers)

In certain private and public university, they have a different student organization such as in the National Defence university of Malaysia student organization, they are divided by two which is Student Representative Council or Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar (consist of military and civilian students) and also rank holder and cadet mess secretariat which are consist of military students. see the website of SRC UPNM - *National Defence University of Malaysia Students Representative Council

New Zealand[edit]

Students associations have a strong history in New Zealand of involvement in political causes, notably the Halt All Racist Tours campaign during the 1981 Springbok Tour. All universities, and most polytechnics and colleges of education have a students association. Since the economic reforms of the 1990s and the introduction of user pays in tertiary education, students associations and the national body have shifted their focus to challenging inequities in the student loan scheme and high levels of student debt.[citation needed] Part-time work alongside the introduction of internal assessment and the change of semester structure has been attributed to the declining involvement in extracurricular activities and a shift in focus of the student movement from mass protest to lobbying.[citation needed]

Previous to 1998 membership of Students' Associations was compulsory at all public Tertiary Education providers (universities, polytechnics and colleges of education). In 1997 the centre-right National party proposed the Voluntary Student Membership amendment to the Education act which would have made membership of Students' Associations voluntary at all Tertiary Education Providers.

However the National Party relied on support from the centrist New Zealand First party to pass legislation. The New Zealand First party preferred that Tertiary Students themselves choose whether their provider should be voluntary or complusary and pushed through a compromise to the amendment that allowed for a Compulsory Vs Voluntary referendum to be held at every public Tertiary Education Provider. The amendment also allowed for subsequent referendums which could not be held until at least two years had passed since the previous referendum and only if a petition was signed by 10% of the student populace.[citation needed]

The first wave of referendums were held in 1999, in which several Polytechnics and two Universities (the University of Waikato and the University of Auckland) elected to become voluntary.[citation needed] In 2002 a second referendum was held at the University of Waikato and students choose to return to compulsory student membership.[citation needed] Similar referendums at Auckland University in 2001, 2003 and 2005 have all elected to retain voluntary student membership.[citation needed]

Most of New Zealand Tertiary students' associations are confederated under the New Zealand Union of Students' Associations.


The Philippines has a complex student union. The usual names used are "student government", "student council", "student body" The Student Government Program of the elementary and secondary schools is handled by the Department of Education while the student councils in state universities and colleges is under the Commission on Higher Education. As well, Every public and private elementary and secondary schools under the Department of Education (DepED) has its own student governments. At the Tertiary Level, also known as higher education or "university" every private and state college and universities in the Philippines has its own student councils. In a university, there is a university student council and every college has its college student council. If a university has external campus(es), the external campuses has its own student council. The student councils within the university (main campus and external campuses) has the student regent, which would represent studentry of the whole university. One example of that is of the West Visayas State University and Central Philippine University.

Sri Lanka[edit]

In Sri Lanka, each state university has several Students' unions with formal links to respective faculties. However most of these have political affiliations and function as proxies of these political factions. Many union take an active political role within the university and in the country as a whole. This frequently lead to much clashes between rival students' unions or the authorities.

See also[edit]


Category:School terminology Category:Types of organization