University of Sheffield Students' Union

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Sheffield Students' Union
InstitutionUniversity of Sheffield
LocationWestern Bank, Sheffield, England
PresidentLilian Jones [1]
Sabbatical officers
Anna Crump Raiswell (Education) [1]

Mel Kee (Development)[1]

Cecilia Hudson-Molinaro (Activities)[1]

Sarah Morse (Sports)[1]

Mayeda Tayyab (Women) [1]

Katharine Swindells (Welfare) [1]

Rex Béchu (International Students)[1]

Members28,848 student members[2] (2017)
AffiliationsNational Union of Students, Aldwych Group, National Postgraduate Committee, Nightline, UKCOSA, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce
WebsiteSheffield Students' Union

Sheffield Students' Union, officially known as the University of Sheffield Students' Union[3], is the representative body of students at the University of Sheffield. It is run by a team of eight elected sabbatical officers.


The forerunner of the University was Firth College (1879) which had both a Student Common Room and student societies including an Athletics Union. The Common Room Committee specifically had a 'chairman/woman' indicating equal status (unusual for the time) with a woman student winning the earliest known election in 1896.[4] However, for the University itself, a Student Representative Council (SRC) was formed in 1906, with the name 'The University of Sheffield Union of Students' being first used in 1923. The first SRC had 20 men and 10 women elected, with 4 men and 3 women as officers. There was a Student President and two Vice-Presidents, one male and one female.[4] For some periods it was called the Guild of Students.[4]

The building for the new university, now called Firth Court, had two common rooms for students, one for men and one for women in which events could be organized. There was initial reluctance to hold dances on university property, but eventually dances were held in the main hall at lunchtimes and evenings.[4] The University acquired two small buildings in 1928 to serve as student clubs, but the Union did not get a separate building till 1936, the Graves building (funded by J. G. Graves and designed by the Professor of Architecture, Stephen Walsh). This building is still present within the complex, though the interior is much altered.[4]

Because of the expansion in numbers, a new building was constructed in 1960–61 adjacent to the Graves Hall and linked to it, which is the basis of the current Union building. A link block had what was claimed to be the longest Union bar in the country.[5] A further expansion of the building took place in 1978, and various refurbishments occurred thereafter until 1993–6 when there was extensive reconstruction and extension, to accommodate a further increase in numbers, creating a substantially new building, designed by Mott Architecture.[4]

In addition to the Union building, the Union shared facilities with the University in adjacent buildings; University House and the Octagon Centre. A major development project was completed in 2013, integrating University House into the Union building and providing an enclosed bridge to the Octagon Centre.[6]

Aims and policies[edit]

The Students' Union aims to "advance the education of Students" by "representing the students of the University locally and nationally, organising services and activities to meet their needs" and "taking positive measures to encourage and build a student community which respects and celebrates the diversity of its membership".[7]

The Students' Union, its officers and staff are bound by democratically chosen policies and are reviewed every three years (unless circumstances warrant a more frequent review).[8]

Education policies[edit]

The Students' Union campaigns for the abolition of all tuition fees, introduction of financial support for postgraduate students, reinstatement of public investment in education as a social good, and against cuts to education.[8]

Environmental and ethical policies[edit]

The Students' Union maintains an environmental policy, undertaking the Students' Union to: educate its members on the issue of climate change, implement an Environment Code of Best Practice, call on the University to reduce its environmental footprint, lobby local authorities to work towards a sustainable Sheffield.[8] Nestlé products are banned within the Students' Union and its commercial services and the Students' Union has no dealings with the company due to its "unfair exploitation of third world countries".[8] As the result of a referendum in 2012, the Students' Union has introduced a 'strong anti-arms trade policy', and has consistently lobbied the University since to divest itself of any involvement with the international arms trade.[9] In a referendum in 2011, students of Sheffield Students' Union approved a policy to stop selling bottled water and replace it with a series of free drinking fountains and affordable, re-usable bottles.[10] The bottled water ban was upheld following a referendum in October 2014,[11] and will remain in place until 2017. The Student's Union council gave its support to the Go Fossil Free campaign by passing a motion in spring 2014.[12] This global divestment movement, initiated by, encourages investors to remove their financial support for companies involved in the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels; activities which must be stopped in order to limit anthropogenic global warming.

Representative policies[edit]

The Students' Union has LGBT friendly policy, ensuring that all activities, facilities, services, organisations and events are LGBT friendly.[8]

Policies pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict[edit]

The University of Sheffield Students' Union has two policies relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, entitled "End Israeli Occupation" and "Twinning with the Islamic University of Gaza".[13] The Students' Union, according to these policies, lobbies the University to "divest itself from... companies that are complicit in the occupation of the Palestinian territories"[14] and ensures that the University fosters links with the Islamic University of Gaza, offering a scholarship programme to one of their students on an annual basis. It further commits the Students' Union to "raise awareness of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement", although does not explicitly endorse it as was the case prior to March 2019.[15]

On 16 January 2018, the Students' Union released a statement condemning the decision of President of the United States Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel. In the statement, on behalf of the Students' Union Council, President Kieran Maxwell condemned the move as resulting in "the human rights of Palestinians [being] undermined and violated" and called for "an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, and for East Jerusalem to be recognised as the Capital of Palestine".[16]


The Union is run by a variety of working, representative and standing committees, presided over by the Student Union Council (SUC) and eight elected full-time sabbatical officers. These elected officers are supported by a number permanent staff led by the Chief Executive Jaki Booth, who took over the reins from Steve Hubbard. Paul Blomfield, now MP for Sheffield Central constituency, was in the role for a number of years before stepping down in 2010. It is a constituent member of the NUS.

Current and former sabbatical officers
Role Academic year
2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
President Kieran Maxwell Lillian Jones Jake Verity
Education Stewart McMillian Anna Crump Raiswell Charlie Porter
Development Megan McGrath Mel Kee Harry Carling
Activities Tom Brindley Cecilia Hudson-Molinaro Martha Daisy Evans
Sports Flo Brookes Sarah Morse Annie Timmis
Women Celeste Jones Mayeda Tayyab Rosa Tully
Welfare Reena Staves Katherine Swindells Beren Maddison
International Students' Santhana Gopalakrishnan Rex Béchu Sissi Li
[17] [3] [18][19]


Concourse during Intro Week

The Union has a turnover of around £11,000,000. It provides for over 270 student societies,[20] and contains a student employment service, two bars, four club venues, and outlets for food and drink, clothing and stationery.[21]

'Bar One' is a traditional student bar, while 'The Interval' is described as a "continental style cafe/bar".[by whom?] Both bars hold pre-club nights with music and special events, and serve food and drinks. 'Bar One' was previously the longest union bar in the country. The union contains one of the largest beer gardens in Sheffield.[citation needed]



The Students' Union holds a variety of student club nights throughout the week at the main club venue, Foundry. These include pop music nights ROAR on Wednesday, Pop Tarts on Saturday. On Tuesdays, The Tuesday Club is a night focusing on underground dance music, usually Drum and Bass, UK Garage or House. Various other nights including LGBT+ night "Proud", Swing & Jazz night "Jam Jar" and international students' night "One" are held in the Foundry monthly on alternating weeks. Live music events and gigs are also regularly held in the Foundry, along with conference events and fairs.

Several times a year, larger, multi-venue events encompassing the entire Students' Union site, such as Halloween Freaks Festival in October and Summer Social in June, attracting over 4,000 students.[22]

The Union, under its obligation as part of the NUS to provide 24-hour support for students, funds Sheffield University Nightline, a telephone and email based listening and information service run by student volunteers from the University.

Societies and clubs[edit]

The Union has a list of approximately 320 societies and clubs, all run through a section of the union named "The Activities and Sports Zone".

Film Unit, the Union's Film Committee, shows three films a week during term time on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Films are played in a cinema with a capacity of nearly 400, equipped with commercial 35 mm film projectors and a Dolby Digital sound system. SUTCo (Sheffield University Theatre Company) produce six plays a year at the Drama Studio, a studio theatre converted from a church, as well as the biennial 24 Hour Charity Musical – rehearsed, choreographed, designed and produced within a 24-hour period. They also produce two alternative venue productions per year. The Technical Services Committee (TSC) are volunteers responsible for the setting up and running of equipment at the aforementioned club nights and live events at the Union.


The union has an active volunteering and charity community. The RAG (Raising and Giving society) raised over £180,000 in 2011–12, through general fundraising and several larger events; the union is host to the world's largest student organised charity hitchhike, Bummit, which runs every year.[23] Another RAG tradition is Spiderwalk, a 12.5-mile trek through the city and the Peak District through the night; other societies run fund-raising activities throughout the night, such as a 24-hour role-playing event. The Union's "SheffieldVolunteering" scheme is one of the country's most active and well-recognised student volunteering schemes, with over 26,269 hours logged in 2011–12, and has won various national acclaims over the years.[24]

Publications and broadcasting[edit]

The union's publication and broadcasting is branded under the name of Forge Media.

The Forge Press newspaper (formerly The Steel Press) is published fortnightly, while Forge Radio is the union's own radio station which broadcasts throughout the Union building during term-time and over the internet. Forge TV – the newest part of Forge Media – is the Union's own television station, broadcasting online and around campus, as well as producing on-demand content.

As of September 2010, former Radio 1 DJ Mary Anne Hobbs joined the Forge Media team.[citation needed]


The union supports a large number of sports teams, which compete in the BUCS championships. The annual Varsity Challenge takes place between teams from the University and its rival Sheffield Hallam University in over 30 events.


It has won a succession of prestigious awards, including:

– Best Higher Education Students' Union in the country at the first ever NUS awards ceremony in 2008 [25]

– Top UK Student Union: in the 2001 Virgin Alternative Guide to Universities

– #1 Students' Union in the UK every year since 2009 to the Times Higher Education reports.[26]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "SU Officers 2018/19". Sheffield Students' Union. 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Facts and Figures". University of Sheffield. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b "University of Sheffield Students' Union Constitution" (PDF). Sheffield Students' Union. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Mathers, H., (2007) Standing up for Students University of Sheffield Union of Students
  5. ^ Mathers, H., (2005) Steel City Scholars James & James ISBN 1 904 022 01 4
  6. ^ University of Sheffield Estates and Facilities Management Recent Projects.
  7. ^ "University of Sheffield Students' Union Constitution" (PDF). University of Sheffield Students' Union. May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Current Policy". University of Sheffield Students' Union. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^
  11. ^ Archived 23 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^[better source needed]
  17. ^ "SU Officers' Year Book @ Sheffield Students' Union". Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  18. ^ Wilde, Robin. "Jake Verity elected President as 2019/20 Officer results announced | Forge". Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  19. ^ Warner, Ben. "At last, new SU International Students' Officer is… | Forge". Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  20. ^ Student Voice, Sheffield Students' Union
  21. ^ "Outlets and services", Sheffield Students' Union
  22. ^ The Tab Sheffield Retrieved 17 November 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. ^ "About Us". 20 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  24. ^ "About Us". 20 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  25. ^ "NUS Awards winners announced". National Union of Students. Retrieved 11 May 2009.
  26. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°22′50.2″N 1°29′14.6″W / 53.380611°N 1.487389°W / 53.380611; -1.487389