What is Imperial College Union
Imperial College Union is a students' union. Students' Unions are membership organisations in higher education institutions which exist, under the Education Act 1994 , to represent the interests of students. All registered Imperial students are automatically members of the Union, unless they decide to opt out (which is so rare, it's almost non-existent). We are a separate legal entity from the College, which protects our independence. However we are partially funded by the University, as required by law, and share a number of central resources. You can read more about how we are funded later on this page.
Legally, the Union is a democratic charity and must follow the laws and regulations which govern UK charity organisations. You can read our public information held by the Charity Commission here.
What does Imperial College Union do
Imperial College Union exists to advance the education and welfare of students for the public benefit by:
- Promoting the educational interests and welfare of students at Imperial College London during their course of study and representing, supporting and advising students;
- Being the recognised representative channel between students and Imperial College London and any other external bodies; and
- Providing social, cultural, sporting and recreational activities and forums for discussions and debate for the personal development of its students.
These are our aims in a nutshell and they translate into five main categories in which all our activities fall:
We amplify the student voice and enable change through Representation structures, elections, and campaigns
We provide guidance and advice on College regulations and academic issues, help with life challenges like debt and housing, and represent student support issues to College
We help students engage outside the classroom through provision of extra curricular activities
We provide programmes that help students develop leadership skills outside the classroom
We provide the means for students to have fun and make great memories through restaurants, entertainment venues, retail outlets, and events
Who runs Imperial College Union
The President of Imperial College Union is a student, elected to represent the voice of all Imperial students for a year. The postholder must either be taking a year out of his/her studies or has just completed their course of studies. The President is a full time staff member of the Union for his/her year in office and does the following:
- Represents all students as a member of College Council, the University's executive governing body (not to be confused with Union Council, which is a student governing body). This is where strategy is set, appointments are made, along with important decisions about the direction of the university.
- Sits on Union Council, the democratic student body which sets policy on issues and which keeps the president accountable through reports, debates, and questions. Union Council meets every four weeks.
- Sits on the Board of Trustees of Imperial College Union and ensures the Union is being run in the interest of students, sets the strategic direction of the Union, and ensures it is financially responsible.
The President for 2019/20 is is Abhijay Sood.
The Deputy Presidents
The President of the Union is supported by four full-time Deputy Presidents. These Deputies are also students elected to work full-time in the Union for a year. There is a Deputy Presient for each of the following areas:
- Education (DPE)
- Clubs and Societies (DPCS)
- Welfare (DPW)
- Finance & Services (DPFS)
These deputies do everything listed above for the President, except they do not sit on College Council. Each deputy has a very specific College Committee or College staff member/s that they engage with regularly in the interest of students.
The Managing Director
The Managing Director is the permanent staff lead of Imperial College Union. The postholder is a professional who is responsible for executing the strategic direction set by the Board of Trustees in the daily operation of the Union. The Managing Director is supported by four profesional strategic senior managers who head individual directorates in which 60+ professional staff members function. These staff members are appointed through open recruitment. They provide professional guidance and support to the elected leaders of the Union, while also being guided by the democratic mandates of the elected leaders. The directorates are organised as follows:
- Representation Team
- Advice Team
- Marketing & Communications Team
Student Experience Directorate
Bars & Catering Team
Venues & Conferencing Team
The Managing Director for 2019/20 is Jarlath O'Hara. Find contact information for elected leaders and professional staff members here.
How are we funded
As a charity organisation, the Union is not run for profit. However, we aim for a financial surplus each year so that we can build healthy reserves. This ensures we always have enough cushion to preserve the quality of our services and staffing, and that we can weather periods of instability. Everything that is earned by the Union is recycled back into the services we provide.
We are funded in the following key ways:
We get a lump sum from the university annually in order to run our services.
We run bars, restaurants, shops, and sell our physical spaces to external clients
We develop partnerships with external organisations who will pay to reach our students through advertising or enriching experiences.
We carefully invest some of our reserves for a healthy return
By law, our students must have oversight of our finances and as a result, they are reviewed by our Union Council, as well as our Board of trustees, external auditors, and the Charity Commission.
Get a more detailed explanation of how money functions in the Union here.
Our Governing Bodies
Union Council represents the voice of students to set the policy of Imperial College Union through bringing together student leaders from across all of our activities. In Union Council, our Officer Trustees come together with the leaders of our Constituent Unions, Academic & Wellbeing Representation Networks, Management Group Chairs and Liberation Teams, as well as elected Undergraduate and Postgraduate representatives of students from every faculty of Imperial College London.
Union Council's role is to provide political leadership and to support and scrutinise the Officer Trustees. It does this by passing policies, mandating student leaders to carry out certain actions or campaigns, and by holding student leaders accountable. Union Council has three subcommittees to support specific discussion and decision-making - Clubs, Societies & Projects Board, Education & Representation Board, and Community & Welfare Board.
Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees is the most senior governing body of Imperial College Union. It provides the strategic direction and vision of the organisation by ensuring that we are working towards Our Strategy, and verifies that our staff and student leaders are conducting their activities safely and legally. The Board of Trustees approves Imperial College Union's annual budget and examines its financial performance, issuing our Annual Reports.
The membership of the Board of Trustees is a mix of elected students (including the Officer Trustees), appointed students, and trustees drawn from outside of our student body. These 'lay trustees' are selected from industry and academia, for their expertise and experience and their external perspective.
The Board of Trustees meets six times a year, and has four subcommittees: Finance & Risk, Communications, Governance, and Appointments & Remuneration. Proceedings of the Board of Trustees can be found here.
Constitution & Byelaws
Imperial College Union's founding documents are the Constitution & Bye-laws, which set out the fundamental purpose and structure of Imperial College Union. The Constitution & Bye-laws, as well as other key agreements and partnership documents, can be found here.