Value For Money

Our finances explained

What's this all about?

We do a lot in the Students’ Union, and need to make sure that we balance the books to ensure we are operating in a sustainable way.

It can sometimes be complex, but you can find here a broad overview of our finances: our budget, how decisions are taken, and what the impact of those decisions might be.

We are a charity, which means that there are no profits. Any surplus we do generate through trading goes towards funding things like our advice service and student groups.

This also means that we publish our annual accounts online, where we report on the previous year’s work and detail our financial activities as required by the Charities Act 2006.

2017/18 Accounts

Our Budget.

In order to make sure we are providing the best value for money, we set annual budgets for all areas of the Union and review these regularly.

When it comes to setting our budget we use a number of different mechanisms to ensure we can deliver everything we want to in the next academic year. This includes forecasting spending across our venues, looking at past performance in our teams and understanding the campaigns we will be tackling.

Once this work is complete our trustees approve the budget. This sets out how we will allocate our limited financial resources, and defines the targets our trading services must meet to deliver everything we want to do. The budget is then used by the Senior Management Team and professional staff team to ensure we are delivering the best possible service to you that we can afford.

Who are our trustees?

The Breakdown.

Running the charitable side of the Union (excluding our trading services such as Tommy’s Kitchen or the Union Venue), costs around £1.37M per year.

This includes Student Voice, Student Opportunities and Marketing and Communications, as well as the back office support for these operations and general running costs.

To put things into context, this is about £520k more than the College gives us in our annual block grant, so we need to make up the difference ourselves. We do this by generating a contribution through a variety of trading activities, such as our shop and bars, as well as through advertising, our weekly food market and other marketing offers.


20k Strategic investment Every year we make investments in projects that we feel will have long term benefits. For example, previously this has funded a new lighting grid for the main hall and our representation review which has helped to reshape academic representation on campus.

125k Buildings and infrastructure With our main building doubling up as a night club we have a number of considerable costs to ensure it is both cleaned and maintained. The cost of keeping our venues safe and secure are also in this budget line.

190k Marketing and comms This covers the cost of running our website, all our design work and generating income through advertising and our market days.

250k HR, finance and IT Exactly what it says on the tin. The less glamorous stuff that every organisation needs in order to function.

380k Student voice We support over 330 course and faculty reps to make changes in their department while our elected officers represent your views in order to make your life better at Royal Holloway.

405k Student opportunities Helping our 140 student groups with direct funding, administration and guidance, and delivering our Give It A Go programme and Helpdesk.

TOTAL: £1.37m


As you can see, there is lots to consider and we regularly review our costs to make sure we are spending in the most efficient way and within our means. The support costs may seem high, but if you think about keeping our venues repaired and cleaned, that we need decent IT for over 50 workstations, that all of the income and expenditure needs to be accurately processed and that all of our staff need to be recruited and trained then paid each month, the costs soon start to mount up.

Our changes.

Since 2016 we've been looking at how we can make our prices fairer for you, our members.

This is much more than just looking at the cost of a bottle of VK, it’s looking at every aspect of the organisation to see where we can make savings and pass these onto you. From freezing the prices across a whole range of our services to implementing new procurement policies, we’re constantly finding new ways to operate in a more efficient manner.

Click the generator to see what we’ve already done to save you money.

Good news generator

We’ve introduced a two for one offer at The Packhorse, giving you more dish for your dosh.

What if?

Setting budgets and prices requires a balanced approach. Use the sliders below to see for yourself what the impact of some of those choices might be.

When viewed in isolation, it can be easy to think ‘this should cost less’ or ‘we should spend on'. In reality, every decision will have an impact on at least one area of the organisation and therefore needs to be carefully considered.

The Trustee Board delegates authority to the Chief Executive, Senior Management Team and individual staff members to make spending decisions within the approved budget. Give it a go for yourself: see what the impact of particular financial decisions might be.

Cost of a VK.

£2.80. The standard.

Cost of a meal deal.

£3.49. The standard.

Cost of advance tickets.

£5.00. The standard.

Cost of jungbombs.

£3.00. The standard.

Cost of Union Bus tickets.

£1.50. The standard.

Cost of a Summer Ball ticket.

£75.00. The standard.

The ideas above are just an illustration of the things we consider when setting the annual budget, and we know that you will have you own ideas about how the Union should balance the prices we charge and the services we offer. Keep an eye on the website for how you can get involved in some of these discussions and help ensure that our budgets are always student-focussed.

News and Updates

How Our Finances Work

Helping you understand how your Union generates and spends funds to make your life better at Royal Holloway.