Edinburgh University Students’ Association is a surprisingly large and complex organisation. We are a student-led charity whose board of trustees is made up of five elected student sabbatical officers, four student trustees and three external, non-student trustees. All students are automatically a member of the Students’ Association.
We operate bars, cafes, shops, nightclubs, a gym and an external catering business. We provide impartial and confidential advice to students on areas ranging from financial matters to relationships and studies. We campaign to ensure that students get a better deal during their time at university, and support students from overseas. We help students to volunteer in the community and support the many student societies that exist. Our total income is close to £12 million a year, we employ over 140 salaried staff and in 2016-17 we paid over £1.8 million in wages to hourly-paid staff, most of whom are students.
Where our money is from
Our income can be split into two main groups: commercial and grant income. Commercial income from the Association’s bars, cafes, shops and Festival operations was £8.6m in 2016-17, and makes up the greatest share of our total income. Grant income (from the University) at £3.0m is the next largest, and there are also various smaller sources such as rental income from the Teviot Print shop and Vitality optician/dentist in Potterrow.
However this only shows part of the picture. The commercial income represents gross takings at the Association’s outlets. If you factor in the direct costs of selling the products – buying in goods for resale or ingredients to make the food that we sell, plus the wage costs of the people staffing our outlets, a profit of about £0.6m was made.
So a more realistic way of looking at the income is to consider the ‘useable’ income. This is the surplus from our commercial activities plus the annual grant from the University and other sources. This adds up to just under £4m in 2016-17 as can be seen in the second chart..
Where the money goes
We use our income to run our student support activities such as The Advice Place, the Peer Support programme or the Activities Office. We also use it to pay for the teams and activities that support the whole organisation, such as the Human Resources and Marketing teams, Estates (who maintain our buildings) or Front of House (who provide our door security).
You can see more detail of the things that we do to directly help our student members on our website.
We spend slightly over half of our ‘useable’ income on non-commercial staff costs. That leaves about £1.5m to spend on everything else: heat & light, repairs & maintenance, equipment hire, design and print costs, and much more. Anything that’s left over at the end of the year is retained to help rebuild the Association’s reserves (see ‘balance sheet’, below)..