The National Union of Students (NUS) is the main confederation of students' unions within the United Kingdom. Although the NUS is the central organisation for all affiliated unions in the UK, there are also the devolved national sub-bodies NUS Scotland in Scotland, NUS Wales in Wales and NUS-USI in Northern Ireland (the latter being co-administered by the Union of Students in Ireland).
NUS is a member of the European Students' Union.
The NUS was formed in 1922 at a meeting held at the University of London. At this meeting, the Inter-Varsity Association and the International Students Bureau (which organised student travel and had been lobbying for a national body) agreed to merge. Founding members included the unions of University of Birmingham, Birkbeck College, London, LSE, Imperial College London (who first left in 1923 and have subsequently rejoined and left three times, the last time being in June 2008), King's College London (who supplied the first President (Sir Ivison Macadam) and the University of Bristol.
All UK students' unions are able to join the NUS (providing they are not controlled by their parent institution and their admission is approved by National Conference). To become a constituent member, unions must pay an affiliation fee to NUS, which is based upon the number of students in the union, and the money received by the union from its parent institution. The NUS now has over 700 constituent members (the unions of either higher education or further education establishments) through which it represents approximately five million UK students, which equates to approximately 98% of all students and hence potential members. However, a small number of high profile educational institutions are not members.
The NUS holds national conferences once a year. National Conference is the sovereign body of NUS, and is where NUS policy is decided. Other conferences, such as Regional Conferences, Women's Conference, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans Conference (changed as of 2004), Disabled Students Conference, Black Students' Conference and the International Students' Conference (created in 2004) are run to enhance the representation of the specific members they include.
NUS offer a number of services to their constituent members. NUS owns a 25% share in NUS Services. NUS Services started out as a purchasing consortium that allows its members to benefit from bulk purchasing discounts. NUS and NUS Services work closely with the Association for Managers in Students' Unions.