Edinburgh University Students' Association

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Edinburgh University Students' Association
Logo of the Edinburgh University Students' Association
Motto by students, for students
Institution University of Edinburgh
Location Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Established 1884 (SRC)
Members c. 30,000 total
Affiliations National Union of Students, National Union of Students Scotland, Students for Cooperation, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, United Kingdom Council for Overseas Student Affairs, Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council, Association for Managers in Students' Unions, Child Poverty Action Group, Birzeit University Student Council, The Work Foundation, Aldwych Group, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, Abortion Rights UK, Edinburgh Student Forum, Votes at 16 [1]
Turnover and Pint Count £9.8m (2011/12) and 244,993 pints.[2]
Website www.eusa.ed.ac.uk

Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) is the students' union at the University of Edinburgh.

As a students' union EUSA is an autonomous, student-led, campaigning organisation, which provides services, representation and welfare support on behalf of its members – the University's students.

Edinburgh University Sports Union (EUSU) is not part of EUSA, having its own representative and organisational structure.


An Edinburgh Students' Representative Council (SRC) was founded in 1884 by student Robert Fitzroy Bell.[3] Shortly afterwards, the SRC voted to establish a union (the Edinburgh University Union (EUU)), to be housed in the building now known as Teviot Row House. The Edinburgh University Women's Union was founded in 1906, becoming the Chambers Street Union in 1964. On 1 July 1973 the SRC, the EUU and the Chambers Street Union merged to form Edinburgh University Students' Association.[4] Through the SRC, EUSA is the oldest students' union in the UK.[5] In 1994 the University forced the merger of the King's Buildings Union and EUSA, despite the KB Union voting against the proposal.[6]

In 1976 EUSA disaffiliated from the National Union of Students (NUS),[7] a decision that was reversed in 2004.[8] In 2005 EUSA formally twinned with Birzeit University Student Council, West Bank, with each union annually hosting delegations from the other.[9][10][11]

Following a student consultation process and plebiscite a new constitution was established in 2012.

EUSA was criticised in 2013 after acting using the Court of Session to "censor" The Student as it "was due to publish details of the suspension of Max Crema, vice-president of services at the union". President James McAsh defended the action, claiming it was taken "to protect the rights of our employees".[12][13][14]

In 2013, EUSA made the decision to ban the playing of Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke in its venues, attracting some attention in national media.[15][16] The song was deemed to promote "an unhealthy attitude towards sex and consent", and for being in breach of EUSA's 'End Rape Culture and Lad Banter on Campus' policy, designed to tackle 'myths and stereotypes around sexual violence' and stop the sexual objectification of female students.[17]

In 2014, EUSA was threatened with legal proceedings by the National Secretary of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), Charlie Kimber, following a motion[18] put forward banning the SWP from the Edinburgh campus due to the 'Comrade Delta' rape scandal. EUSA eventually withdrew the motion. This also resulted in the editors of The Student newspaper, a EUSA society, manually ripping pages out of their own newspapers to avoid personal legal liability, as the story about the motion had already been printed before it was withdrawn.[19][20]

In 2016 EUSA became the first students union in the UK to affiliate to Students for Cooperation as an affiliated supporter in order to promote and support student led cooperatives. EUSA also submitted policy to NUS Scotland to affiliate themselves with Students for Cooperation and the proposal was accepted.

EUSA's logo until September 2016

Also in 2016, EUSA sabbatical officers and management submitted a referendum to the student membership over whether to change the Association's name to "University of Edinburgh Students' Union", alongside a number of internal administrative changes. The name change was rejected by 69.9% of students.[21] However, EUSA continued with a major rebranding programme, changing the logo and encouraging the organisation to be referred to as "the Association", or "your Students' Association" instead of "EUSA".[22]


EUSA's activities include representating and campaigning on behalf of students, the administration of societies, running a network of bars and other venues, organising volunteering opportunities and providing numerous welfare and advice services.[23] EUSA also directly organises regular events such as Freshers' Week, club nights, pub quizzes, band nights, various comedyevents, and the Graduation Ball.


Edinburgh students protest in London against fee rises

In recent years, EUSA has supported campaigns for same-sex marriage,[24] against tuition fee rises and education cuts,[25] and for better private tenancy rights;[26] EUSA also lobbies the University on internal issues, such as on-campus child care. It has also had a significant role in the overhaul of the University's student support structure,[27] and in making Edinburgh Scotland's first Fairtrade University in 2004.[28][29][30][31] In 2007, following several years of pressure from EUSA, the University Senate revoked Robert Mugabe's honorary degree that had been awarded in 1984 "for services to education in Africa".[32]


EUSA supports and oversees over 240 affiliated societies.[33] There are societies for most academic disciplines, political parties, nationalities and minority groups.

Student theatre at Edinburgh is particularly active. The Edinburgh University Theatre Company (EUTC) was founded in 1896 as the Edinburgh University Drama Society, and since the early 1980s has run Bedlam Theatre, the oldest student-run theatre in Britain, and The Improverts, the city's longest running improvised comedy troupe. Edinburgh University Footlights and Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group (EUSOG) are musical theatre societies, the latter having an emphasis towards the Savoy operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Theatre Paradok are dedicated to experimental theatre.

Music is a large part of EUSA's output. The Edinburgh University Music Society founded in 1867 is the second oldest music society in the United Kingdom. With a Symphonic Chorus of up to 200 members, a full size Symphony Orchestra and Sinfonia, EUMS performs up to seven concerts a year in the university. The university is also home to the Edinburgh University Renaissance Singers conducted by University Lecturer Noel O'Regan.

Media-themed societies include The Student (Edinburgh's own student newspaper), Fresh Air (a student radio station, online only since 2008), the Edinburgh Movie Production Society (EMPS), the Edinburgh Film Society and most recently EUTV, Edinburgh University Television Station.

Charitable and campaigning societies are numerous, including Edinburgh Global Partnerships and the Edinburgh branches of the Nightline support hotline and People & Planet charitable network.

Buildings, venues and outlets[edit]

Teviot Row House as seen from Bristo Square

EUSA operates 13 bars, 7 catering outlets, 5 shops, a catering company (Honours Catering) and numerous other services located across various sites.[33] Most of these buildings are operated as Edinburgh Fringe venues during August.

  • Teviot Row House is the largest EUSA union building and the oldest purpose built student union building in the world. Located on Bristo Square, Teviot contains six bars (The Library Bar, The Sports Bar, The New Amphion, The Lounge Bar (informally known as The Jazz Bar), Teviot Underground and The Loft Bar), a small nightclub and a variety of meeting rooms and halls. Following a fire at their Grassmarket venue, Teviot is now Gilded Balloon's primary base during the Fringe.
  • Pleasance provides EUSA societies with meeting space during semesters. It also has two bars and a theatre with an approximate capacity of 300. It is located next to the University's Centre for Sport and Exercise. During the Fringe, Pleasance is run by the Pleasance Theatre Trust Ltd[34] as the "Pleasance Courtyard".
  • Potterrow Mandela Centre, is also located on Bristo Square. With its distinctive dome, this building includes two shops, two cafes, a 1200 capacity nightclub, the Societies, Charities and Volunteering centre (collectively known as EUSA Connect) and a student support centre (The Advice Place) and EUSA's main administrative offices. Potterrow is also run by the Pleasance Theatre Trust, along with many other Fringe venues, and is branded as the "Pleasance Dome".
  • King's Buildings is the home of most of the College of Science and Engineering, located in the south of the city. King's Buildings House, includes a bar and food outlet, a small gym, a branch of the Advice Place and a small shop. The Magnet Cafe is located in the James Clerk Maxwell Building, and there is another shop on the ground floor of the KB Centre.[35]
  • Pollock Shop is a late opening shop in Pollock Halls.


EUSA is a democratic membership organisation, a charitable body and a company limited by guarantee.

All Edinburgh University students automatically become members of EUSA upon matriculation, though they retain the ability to opt out, as per the Education Act 1994.

Democracy is provided through an open Student Council (the SRC) supported by three topical Standing Committees; the Academic Committee, External Affairs Committee, and Welfare Committee. There is also a Societies Council which makes decisions relating specifically to student societies. Alongside these are a series of open, autonomous liberation groups (Black Minority and Ethnic, Disability and Mental Wellbeing, LGBT, and Women) and student section groups (International, Mature and Postgraduate).

Elected representatives also sit on all major University bodies and subcommittees. Complementing these structures are autonomous school councils and a class representation system providing local, democratic spaces for organising. This organisational structure was designed to help foster a system of participatory democracy throughout the University.[36]

The Association's day-to-day student leadership is provided by a team of four full-time elected students, the Sabbatical Officers, currently:

  • President - responsible for the overall functioning and external politics of the association;
  • Vice President Societies and Activities (VPSA) - responsible for activities in relation to recognised student groups and representation to the University on non-academic service provision;
  • Vice President Academic Affairs (VPAA) - responsible for representing students to the University and beyond on academic matters
  • Vice President Services (VPS) - responsible for the running of EUSA's buildings and financial affairs.

EUSA's financial, legal and employment matters are the responsibility of the Chief Executive and a senior management team, who report to and are held accountable by a Board of Trustees, which currently consists of:

  • The four Sabbatical officers
  • Four elected student trustees
  • Three external trustees, appointed by the student trustees for no more than three years.

EUSA has complete ownership and control over a subsidiary company, EUSACO, incorporating any activity which is outside EUSA's charitable remit, such as the Edinburgh Fringe and external catering activities.[37] Responsibility for EUSA's commercial services is delegated by the Board of Trustees to the Trading Committee. As the direct descendent of Edinburgh University Union's Committee of Management, the committee dates back to 1889. The Trading Committee has direct input from the SRC and the four student stakeholder groups (Bars, Catering, Entertainment and Retail). The Trading Committee currently consists of:

  • The VPS (the chair) and VPSA
  • Four elected student members (Declan Sheridan, Niall T O'Coinleain, Morgan Reilly and Nathan Bower-Bir)
  • Two appointed non-student members (Ewan Hawthorn and Sue Diamond)

Notable people[edit]

This is an incomplete list of notable former office bearers, staff and others with EUSA and its predecessor unions.


  1. ^ "Boycotts and Affiliations". Edinburgh University Students' Association. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Finances". Edinburgh University Students' Association. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Wintersgill, Donald. "Bell, Robert Fitzroy (1859–1908)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Catto, Iain (1989). 'No spirits and precious few women' - Edinburgh University Union - 1889-1989. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Union. p. 120. 
  5. ^ Denton, edited by Steve; Brown, Sally (2009). A Practical Guide to University and College Management Beyond Bureaucracy. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis. p. 86. ISBN 9780203874554. 
  6. ^ Wilson, Graeme (2 June 1994). "Students Protest at Merger Decision - Edinburgh University". The Scotsman. 
  7. ^ Tom, McConnell (5 February 1979). "Court move against student in union referendum tussle". The Glasgow Herald. 
  8. ^ University of Edinburgh Journal. 42-43: 77. 2005.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ "Visit to Birzeit University from Edinburgh University Student Association". Birzeit University. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  10. ^ "Right to Education/Birzeit Twinning EUSA resolution". Edinburgh University Students for Justice in Palestine. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  11. ^ "Right to Education/Birzeit Twinning". Edinburgh University Students' Association. 
  12. ^ "EUSA hits back in Student newspaper censorship furore". The Journal. February 2013. Archived from the original on 24 February 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  13. ^ editor, Lucy Sherriff Multimedia; UK, The Huffington Post (2013-02-07). "Student Paper Gagged By Its Own Union". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  14. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20130208072341/http://www.journal-online.co.uk/article/10094-editorial-i-may-not-like-what-you-say. Archived from the original on 8 February 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ Michaels, Sean (2013-09-13). "Blurred Lines banned by Edinburgh University". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  16. ^ "Blurred Lines song banned at Edinburgh students' union". Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  17. ^ "University of Edinburgh bans Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' from playing on campus". The Independent. 12 September 2013. 
  18. ^ "Student Rights - SWP motion shows importance of consistency". www.studentrights.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  19. ^ "The Student - Timeline | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  20. ^ "The Student editors vandalise own paper after lawsuit threat from Socialist Worker Party". The Tab Edinburgh. 2014-10-23. Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  21. ^ "Elections". www.eusa.ed.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  22. ^ "New Students' Association logo". www.eusa.ed.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  23. ^ http://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/about/
  24. ^ "Student fury at gay marriage petition names". Edinburgh Evening News. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  25. ^ "Students march to protest education cuts and tuition fee increases". EUSA. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  26. ^ "Students' association launches campaign to protect tenants". Scottish Television. 28 February 2012. Archived from the original on 18 April 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  27. ^ "Edinburgh University to replace DoS system". The Journal. 18 January 2012. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  28. ^ "Fairtrade and the University of Edinburgh". University of Edinburgh. Archived from the original on 23 December 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  29. ^ Ballard, Mark. "Motion S2M-05639: Mark Ballard, Lothians, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 22/02/2007 Fairtrade Fortnight 2007". The Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  30. ^ Stephen Sterling; Larch Maxey; Heather Luna, eds. (2013). "9". The Sustainable University: Progress and prospects. Routledge. ISBN 9781136236938. 
  31. ^ Lamb, Harriet (2008). Fighting the banana wars and other fairtrade battles. London: Rider. p. 197. ISBN 1846040833. 
  32. ^ "Mugabe stripped of degree honour". BBC News. 6 June 2007. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  33. ^ a b "Finances". Edinburgh University Stduents' Association. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  34. ^ https://www.pleasance.co.uk/about_us
  35. ^ http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/science-engineering/about/kings-buildings
  36. ^ "Governance". Edinburgh University Students' Association. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  37. ^ "Memorandum Articles of Association" (PDF). Edinburgh University Students' Association. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 

External links[edit]