About Us

We are City Students' Union

What is a Union?

A Students’ Union is, as the name suggests, an organisation made of a united body of students who stand together to improve student life for all its members. All Higher Education institutions in the UK have been required by law to offer students the chance to form a Union since 1994. At City, your Students’ Union automatically enrols every single student at City University as a member, and represents your interests in student life for your entire time as a student. That means that, at any one time, the Union represents around 20000 students, led by students, on behalf of students, improving student life for every single student member.

What does the Union do?

Simply put, the Union changes things at the University. As you may know, Universities have complex structures managing how they’re run, which have little to do with the academics or teaching students see every day. The Union takes student suggestions and issues to the University’s committees, councils, and boards and presses the University’s management from top to bottom to improve student life every way it can. The Union will take action on everything from changing or reviewing your course content, to pushing the University to alter its policy on recording lectures and lecture times, to creating more study space and social space for students around campus, to getting better prices and deals for students at campus shops and cafés.

Apart from working directly with the University, the Union will also run its own events and help students to organise groups and societies on campus. The Union will put on large-scale events like Welcome Week and smaller, specific events which might support studying during assessment periods or recognise minorities and their concerns in the student community. If student members want to set up their own groups and run meetings, discuss issues, organise associations and create events for themselves and other students, the Union will provide resources and support to get student groups up and running as well.

How does the Union work?

The Union is led by its full-time Sabbatical Officers, who are elected from the student body in much the same way as any other political leader is elected. They will run campaigns, make manifesto promises, and if you want them to represent your interests, you’ll vote for them. It’s the Officers who will go to the University’s committees and speak on your behalf, and who will determine the Union’s stance just as a president or prime-minister of a state will determine a government’s stance.

There are a host of other positions to which students can be elected to participate in the Union and direct its work, and many more ways to get involved besides elected positions.

The Union’s full-time staff work tirelessly alongside students to turn their decisions, campaigns, projects, and choices into actualities. All full-time staff are directed in the student interest by students and for students. If you’re a student at City and you want your voice heard, City Students’ Union exists for you!

What are the Union’s origins?

Prior to the 1910s, there is little information which suggests any systematic activity which would resemble the work of a Union today. Indeed, the first organisation known to serve and support the social lives of students at what was then the Northampton Institute was the Engineering society. In the year 1909, a student by the name of E. L. Mayall Emtage became chairman of the Engineering society committee. Emtage went on to be elected Chairman of the first Social Committee chosen by a mass meeting of students at the Institute in 1910. This first form of the Union was deemed illegitimate and disbanded shortly by order of the Institute’s principal. Yet Emtage and the student body persisted and only two years later, in 1912, Emtage announced the official formation of the first Union Society of the Northampton Institute. The Union’s first president was a Mr D. H. Steers. In 1957, the Northampton Institute became the Northampton College of Advanced Technology and in 1966, was granted the charter to become what is now called City University. The Union’s structure and role has remained largely unchanged: a student-led organisation supporting the needs of students during their times of study.[i]

What’s with the carrot?

The Carrot is the Union’s mascot, and has been since the Union’s formation in 1912. Once an actual carrot used to drive the horse-drawn bus which carried students to the annual student-staff cricket match at the Northampton Institute, it now symbolises an ethos of incentivisation over force, encouragement and support over rule and punishment.

The carrot has succeeded in outlasting a number of other symbols of the Union, notably the coat of arms and motto, which have gone through numerous iterations over the years. The motto once read: naturam ad usum tractamus which translates from the Latin to: we treat nature according to use, or possibly: we handle nature with skill, and later was changed to: to serve mankind, with the transformation of the college into a University. Neither the Union nor University use an official motto any longer, but still strive to emulate the values installed at the foundation of the institutions long ago.


[i] Source: Northampton College Union Society Handbook, 1965-66. Eds Steve Cook and John Filmer. London: The Union Society of Northampton College of Advanced Technology, 1966.