The Graduate Union asks Middle Common Rooms (MCRs), or their equivalent, to pay an annual affiliation fee to the Graduate Union.
In most universities, money allocated for student unions comes directly to the union. In Cambridge the situation is complicated by the college system. The Graduate Union does receive significant central funding, covering core costs of employing staff and providing facilities and basic services. Income from affiliation fees is used by the Graduate Union to strengthen budgets for activity in key student-facing areas – welfare, international students, student parents, and others. Most of these budgets are directly controlled by the GU's elected officers (sabbatical officers or part-time officers).
Affiliating to the GU forms an important political link between the MCR and the GU. Each affiliiated MCR has a vote at GU Council, and plays a key role in forming GU policy and holding the GU's officers to account. In this way, MCRs can feed the voice of their students up to University level, as the GU officers act as the recognised graduate representatives within the central University. The GU President, and GU-CUSU Welfare & Rights Officer, attend a significant number of central committees to input the views and needs of students; representation is very much at the core of the GU's misison.
How is the level of fee decided?
The GU Council is responsible for setting the level of the affiliation fee each year. The GU Council includes representatives from each MCR so MCRs have a direct and decisive say in setting their fee.
How is the fee calculated and charged?
The fee is currently set as a per capita figure £3.50). Only full time graduate students are counted. The fee for an individual MCR is calculated by multiplying the per capita fee by the number of full time graduate students as stated in the most recent edition of the Reporter Special Edition on Student Numbers.
Since the Student Numbers edition of the Reporter comes out in May, and carries numbers for 31 December of the previous year, the fee for a given year is effectively calculated by reference to last year’s numbers. This makes no difference in the long run, and offers clear administrative advantages over seeking to establish numbers in each college by some other means each year at the time the bills are sent out.