Cambridge University Students' Union

Not to be confused with Cambridge Union Society.
Cambridge University Students' Union
Institution University of Cambridge
Location SUs' Building, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
Established 1971
President Priscilla Mensah (Girton)
Sabbatical officers
Members c. 21,000
Affiliations National Union of Students, Aldwych Group, UKCISA

Cambridge University Students' Union (CUSU) is the university-wide representative body for students at the University of Cambridge, England. CUSU is a federal body made up of individual college student unions (known as JCRs and MCRs).

CUSU should not be confused with the Cambridge Union Society (often referred to as simply 'the Union'); membership of both is open to all students at Cambridge, but the Cambridge Union Society is a private society, whereas CUSU is part of, and funded by, the University of Cambridge.

Graduate students at Cambridge University are eligible for membership of CUSU as well as the University of Cambridge Graduate Union, specifically for graduate student affairs.


CUSU was founded as the Cambridge Students' Union (CSU) in 1971 to represent all higher education students studying in Cambridge, that is students attending the University of Cambridge plus undergraduates at CCAT (the then Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology, which in 1993 became Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge). CSU also represented students at Homerton College, then a separate teacher training college in the city.

CSU during its early years from 1971 to 1974 received support from CCAT Students' Union as CCATSU was from the 1960s the only large NUS-affiliated, and conventionally funded, students' union in Cambridge. CSU in turn supported CCATSU in its campaigns to get more student housing provided for CCAT degree students, a serious issue for the college by the early 1970s. CCATSU and CSU went their separate ways after 1974.

CSU was formally recognised by the Cambridge University authorities on May 25, 1984 and renamed, following a student referendum in March 1985, as CUSU - Cambridge University Students Union. CSU's second president, in 1972, was Charles Clarke, later a Labour MP, Secretary of State for Education and Home Secretary.

There had been previous university-wide groups, such as CAMNUS (Cambridge NUS), which was founded in 1964 by Gordon Heald, John Bibby and others. CAMNUS arranged certain university-wide student facilities, such as 'CAMNUS Coaches' (an end-of-term bus service to all parts of the country), and an inter-collegiate mail service.


CUSU holds elections annually for 6 or 7 full-time officers, several part-time officers and a number of delegates (5 in 2011, with the President making the 6th delegate ex officio) to the National Union of Students (NUS) Annual Conference.

The full-time officers take a one-year sabbatical from their studies (or directly after they have graduated) and are:

There are also five Autonomous Campaigns, which are semi-independent bodies dealing with a particular subset of students. They are:

The chairmen of the autonomous campaigns may only be elected by members of that campaign.


In March 2006, the largest Cambridge college students' union, Trinity College Students' Union voted to disaffiliate from CUSU for the academic year 2006/2007. Several other colleges were reported to be also considering the option.[1] Trinity College Students' Union reaffiliated in early 2007, following re-engagement work by the incumbent sabbatical officers. On November 14, 2010, both the JCR and MCR of Corpus Christi College disaffiliated, following a college-wide ballot in which 71% of undergraduates and 86% of postgraduates voted in favour of disaffiliation.[2] Also, in November 2013 Gonville and Caius College disaffiliated following a referendum which saw a result of 213 votes for disaffiliation and 91 votes against.[3]

In 2015 the University had to give CUSU a £100,000 bailout after financial mismanagement.[4][5]

Former Presidents and Sabbatical Officers

Notable former sabbaticals include:


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