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.

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
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
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

    £70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

    Nursery Nurse

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

    Nursery Nurse

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments