A statement from the YUSU and GSA Presidents on the future of the Unions
Announcing our ambitions for a single and unified Students’ Union
The University of York is one of a very small number of Universities to have two students’ unions: the University of York Students’ Union (YUSU), for all students registered at the University, and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA), reserved for taught and research postgraduate students.
The unions provide a variety of valuable services to the student body that range from student representation and advocacy, specialist advice services, a range of events, trips and student opportunities, as well as on-campus venues. Both organisations are registered charities with separate governance arrangements from the University.
Board and management representatives, including both of us, have been holding meetings over this academic year, supported by the Academic Registrar, to consider the benefits of establishing a single, unified Students’ Union for all students at the University.
Unions are built on a proud tradition of collectivism and the idea of bringing people together for a combined good. We feel that, due to our planned move into a shared, custom-built space in the new Student Centre, the time is right for us to unify. This provides us with a unique opportunity to strengthen our combined offer for students by working together more closely and catering to as many students as possible.
It is important to stress that none of our plans are final and this merger of equals is not intended to happen immediately. As a group, we are working on detailed proposals for the respective Boards of each union, and we will be turning to you, the students, for your input into our vision for a shared future. We will be taking you along with us every step of the way.
In the coming months, we will be issuing a joint survey to garner your thoughts on what a new union could look like. We will also be running targeted focus groups for student groups we feel have been traditionally left out of Union activities and for postgraduate researchers specifically to ensure our transitional arrangements and the new union deliver for them.
Your direct feedback, along with focus group feedback, will be shared with our working group to inform our considerations and next steps. We anticipate that we will publish your key ideas and aspirations and how these have influenced our plans for the future by Summer 2023