Case studies

Made in Arts London
University of the Arts London Students’ Union

Made in Arts London is a creative enterprise developed by the University of the Arts Students’ Union, with help from funding and mentoring from the Enterprise Project in 2010/11.

Students had been asking for a trusted platform from which to sell their art and design work. The students’ union acknowledged this feedback and approached the Enterprise Project for support.

The education officer at the time, Robyn Minogue and student, Kate Rintoul developed a business plan for the project and won a £7,500 grant from NUS Services to get the project off the ground.

And as well as funding, the Enterprise Project provided the students’ union with an experienced mentor who helped refine their business model and concept.

Made in Arts London is now a successful online platform for students to sell their work. Click here to see what they’re up to right now. This website is the only enterprise selling artwork guaranteed to be from UAL students.

One of the University of the Arts London Students’ Union’s strategic aims is to be an ‘innovative and creative arts union for arts students’. The funding and support from the Enterprise Project has enabled the student’s union to meet this aim.

Furthermore, as well as providing a trusted platform to sell work, the Made in Arts London project works with creative ambassadors – current students who are in touch with artistic practices and popular cultures, and who work to hunt for talent and develop artists.

Something which began from student feedback and is maintained buy student creative ambassadors, Made in Arts London is a truly exciting and student-led initiative.

iCYCLE Manchester
Matt Robinson, chief executive, Manchester Metropolitan Union

With support from last year’s funding, Manchester Metropolitan Union (MMU) partnered with Cycles Recycled, which specialises in recycling bicycles, to provide an improved cycling experience to students and staff at the university.

Through the scheme, MMU provides affordable cycle hire, access to cycle maintenance programmes, and information for staff and students to become better informed about reusing bike parts and other sustainable transport options.

Since its soft launch in June 2011, the project has built a fleet of over 50 new and refurbished bicycles. The response has been positive, and a bike rental scheme for local businesses has been put in place to account for potential loss of revenue over the summer.

The combination of income from bike hire, auction and repair services will enable the project to remain sustainable as the fleet increases.

The project has been successful, and revenue is growing. As well as meeting its objective of providing improved cycling facilities, the project attracts volunteers (staff and students) to refurbish bikes and to learn about bike maintenance. Initial sales of bikes, rental and servicing revenue indicate that the project is on track to be a sustainable investment.

In-house printing
Amanda Ledwards, retail manager, Staffordshire University Students’ Union

For some time we had been discussing ways that we could support students who wanted to develop their business skills and knowledge.

We had considered the possibility of purchasing specialised vinyl printing equipment, but with a modest budget, this was out of our reach. When we heard that another round of funding from the project was open, we were quick to get involved.

In preparing to present our bid, Emma Harris, our commercial services officer (2011/12), attended the one-day NUS Services event, where there were entrepreneurs, business owners and finance managers delivering advice on how to deliver a successful pitch.

The funding we secured has allowed us to purchase the high-quality printing equipment we had hoped for, as well as ‘start up’ stock. And during this term, we will be offering opportunities for students to print their own designs and artwork, and create their own T-shirt and clothing designs.

There are many more opportunities now open to us. We are hoping to print our own staff uniforms in-house, and our university is interested in purchasing staff uniform printing from us too.

We have the opportunity to print clubs’ and societies’ kits and social wear, and can easily run bespoke prints for students who want to personalise their kit. We can offer this to students at a much reduced price than they are currently paying.

We have high hopes for this being a successful student-led venture, and are grateful to NUS Services for helping us to get it off the ground.

Learner engagement
Sammy Engele,
learner voice co-ordinator, Worcester College of Technology Students’ Union

We applied to the project back in 2010. Before then, we had a fairly decent union with nine part-time officer positions. But in the union’s four-year history, all nine positions had never been filled simultaneously.

We have had some very good officers who worked tirelessly to represent our student body, but their efforts were often stifled by some obvious shortcomings.

Firstly, the union didn’t have an office to work from. Secondly, because they were part-time officers and were also studying full-time, quite often they couldn’t get involved with certain campaigns and events.

With all this in mind, we saw the project as a fantastic opportunity to solve a number of these issues. We decided to concentrate our bid on two main areas: a full-time officer and the Students' Union Bureau (SUB).

In most parts, we have been able to make this plan a reality. The SUB, a one-stop students' union hub, has been open for almost a year, and has proved to be immensely popular – so much so that the college has commissioned a second SUB to be built in another building.

We also elected a second full-time officer in March this year, in what were our most successful elections ever. For the first time, we filled all nine positions.

Overall, the whole project has been a success. The look, structure and purpose of the students’ union has improved dramatically, and we get involved with so much more. But most importantly, our engagement with students is much better.

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Thu 28 Mar 2013

Results for elections to the NUS Services board of directors

How we're developing officer training

Wed 27 Mar 2013

NUS learning and development officer, Amanda Stanford discussed how we can make our programme the best possible.

Students’ unions as catalysts for quality employment opportunities

Tue 26 Mar 2013

Dannie Grufferty, vice president society and citizenship chaired a discussion about how the student movement can provide employment opportunities.