A fall in revenue from student union bars is contributing to a major rethink of the role unions play within universities, writes John Gill. According to Matt Hyde, chief executive of the National Union of Students, bar sales have fallen 46 per cent in the past decade.
He said: "The funding model has changed, and with that there has been a re-evaluation of the mission and purpose of student unions. Rightly, in our view, that has led in most instances to the focus on representation, advocacy and the voice of the learner."
His view was echoed by Wes Streeting, vice-president of the NUS, who raised the issue at the 1994 Group student experience conference last week.
He said that he had come across "horror stories" of student unions "struggling to make the basics".
"That does, I think, make it contingent upon institutions to provide greater support and funding through the block grant, to enable student unions to focus on their core business, representation and advocacy. Students unions would be able to provide far greater and more meaningful feedback if they had the policy, staff and advisers to help support them."