Everyone paid to do academic work or ‘professional and managerial’ (academic-related) work by the University of Leeds, including postgraduate students who teach, can and should join UCU.

UCU is a union of people hourly paid or on fixed-term contracts as much as it’s a union of full-time permanent employees of the university.

It’s a union of postgraduate students who are doing paid teaching as much as it’s a union of established academics and managers.

It’s a union of women, men, and non-binary people, of migrants working in the UK as much as UK citizens, of people of colour as much as of white people, neurodiverse, physically diverse, of disabled people as much as non-disabled people, of lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual and people of other sexualities, and transgender and gender fluid as much as heterosexual and cis-gendered people. It is our union and in it we are all equal.

It’s a union of the entire academic and academic-related part of the university. Join your union!

Student membership

Student membership is for postgraduate students who don’t yet do paid work for the university, particularly for members intending to work in Higher or Further Education. Student membership, which is free, is not full union membership and you won’t be balloted in elections or for industrial action.

Postgraduates who teach

Postgraduate students who teach, or do other paid work for the university which would come under the academic or academic-related constituency, are normally entitled to full membership for free for the duration of your course while you remain a student (up to four years). See more at ucu.org.uk/free

Can I join UCU if I’m in an administrative or technical role?

Trade unions have a national agreement to stop us having to compete for new members instead of focussing on making things better for members. This means we don’t seek to recruit members outside the “constituency” for which we are officially recognised by the university. UCU’s constituency is academic staff and staff on academic-related contracts, which the university calls ‘professional and managerial’.

If your contract says “support” or “technical” then you’re in the consistency is covered by Unison and Unite unions. It’s a good idea to talk to colleagues to help you decide which of those two is best for you, and to have a look at their websites. You could join UCU and we could represent you in meetings with management but we won’t be negotiating on your pay or terms and conditions and our caseworkers are likely to be less familiar with some of your contractual arrangements than Unison or Unite reps might be. While there are very occasional exceptions, we would generally recommend that if you’re in an administrative or technical role you join Unison or Unite instead of UCU.


The subscription is made up of a national subscription and local subscription, both on a sliding scale.

The current national subscription rates are at ucu.org.uk/subscriptions

The current additional local subscription rates are at ucu.org.uk/localsubs

Union membership between jobs

While UCU is making progress here at Leeds in pushing back the culture of casualisation of academia, there are still be times in many of our careers that we are between jobs. Union membership is free once your contract finishes until you start your next contract. Contact the membership department to set this up. (Membership can be free for unemployed members for up to 12 months.)

Your union membership when you retire

There are different options to choose from when you retire. For details see ucu.org.uk/retirementoptions

Tax relief

Members are entitled to tax relief on 67% of their National Subscription. See further details by following ucu.org.uk/taxrelief

Further Information

For further information see ucu.org.uk/ucumembership or email ucu@leeds.ac.uk.

This page was last updated on 22 February 2021