Go Higher: Scotland and Northern Ireland - The main attraction

The best student unions easily win out over local clubs, pubs and eateries. By Craig Reece

Given their proximity to lecture theatres, plus their well-established cheap drinks prices, promotions and long opening hours, student unions are always a popular choice for students, although the size, quality and popularity of unions varies dramatically from place to place. At St Andrews, the union is a major social player in the area, offering some of the best choice in affordable eating, drinking and entertainment.

The most successful unions today are those who attract not only their own students, but also those from other institutions and the public in general. Increasingly, student entertainment has been drawn towards local clubs and bars which compete fiercely for the student trade. For this reason, offers and promotions are in abundance which can only be good news for those mindful of their financial situation.

Among the best of the unions are Queen's in Belfast with its regular night Shine!, run by local boy David Holmes, which attracts big-name DJs on a regular basis. Another union with a swiftly growing reputation is Edinburgh University's Teviot Row. They have regular club nights with the likes of the legendary Cream, Colours and Back 2 Basics.

Glasgow's hippest student hangout is the School of Art Students Association, still apparently in a Sixties-esque heyday - with sounds to match in the downstairs bar - and hosting a very broad range of gigs, club nights and one-off events.

Other unions in Glasgow include Strathclyde Students Association, which has a plethora of floors, bars and facilities, but offers little in the way of ground-breaking entertainment aside from a local band night.

Glasgow University is blessed with two unions. The Queen Margaret Union used to play host to gigs by the likes of Nirvana, Teenage Fanclub and Therapy?, but this has fallen away in recent years. The present administration promises better things for the future though. The GUU is something of a bastion of the gentleman's network with debating, drinking games and rugby taking precedence.

One development which has had a major impact on the unions' ability to provide entertainment has been the monopolisation of gigs by larger promotions companies, often with strong links to venues. They are not so keen to promote concerts where only students and signed guests are admitted, and so are less likely to opt for student venues. Aberdeen, Robert Gordon and Dundee universities have all suffered as a result of this change, and have sometimes found themselves marginalised as a result.

These days unions have had to offer other reasons for student custom. They've branched out into catering - especially for the large numbers of vegetarian students today. Many unions are well known for their eateries - with Aberdeen and Ulster being among the best respected - and usually have a dining room or canteen, bolstered by one or two cafes.

Nowadays most unions have shops - both their own and those run by outside companies - which offer generous student discounts. Banks, insurance companies and travel agents such as usitCAMPUS and STA have branches which offer the best in student deals.

There is no end to the other facilities. Many offer laundry, showers and TV lounges for those lacking them in their accommodation, plus study rooms and pool/games rooms.

More than anything else student unions are places for information about student life and problems, and a place to meet your peers, eat, drink and dance cheaply. Not bad for one building, and never too far away.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London