Foundation of Edinburgh University Students' Association, 1973

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In 1973 Edinburgh University Students' Association was founded via the merger of the Students' Representative Council (SRC), the Edinburgh University Union, and the Chambers Street Union.

The early 1970s saw campaigns both to increase student participation in university governance and to unify all student bodies into a single organization. At the beginning of the decade, there were three discrete bodies:

The Students' Representative Council - Founded in 1884, the SRC was formally recognised as the official representative body of Edinburgh's students by the Universities (Scotland) Act 1889.

Edinburgh University Union - Founded in 1889, the Union was designed to be the focus of the collective life of the university's students. Nonetheless, membership was male-only.

Chambers Street Union - Founded as Edinburgh University Women's Union in 1906, it occupied the Chambers Street premises and assumed its new name in 1964.

On 5 February 1971, Edinburgh University Union finally voted to admit women. Previous attempts had been thwarted by the need for a 75% majority to effect any change in the constitution of the body. By this stage, the Chambers Street Union had already passed a motion admitting men. At a later meeting, on 21 April 1972, Edinburgh University Union voted to make all students automatic members of the Union.

Negotiations now began to dissolve all three bodies and create a unified students' association. It was soon established, however, that the Students' Representative Council could not be dissolved as it had been officially recognised by the Universities (Scotland) Act 1889. Nor was it possible to alter its constitution in a way that would permit it to take over responsibility for the unions.

In the end, it was resolved that the Students' Representative Council and Edinburgh University Union would continue to exist as discrete entities within the proposed association. Chambers Street Union, conversely, would merge entirely with Edinburgh University Union.

Edinburgh University Students' Association came into being on 1 July 1973. Each newly matriculated student would automatically become a member.


  • Iain Catto (ed.), 'No spirits and precious few women': Edinburgh University Union 1889-1989 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Union and Iain Catto, 1989)