Student recruitment

  • 31 Aug 2023

Build successful recruitment campaigns and encourage activism using union resources.

Students beginning their journey into the media industry are actively encouraged to join the union and share the benefits of being an NUJ student member, including receiving a press card to use as identification when news gathering.

Branches and chapels

NUJ branches and chapels support student members manoeuvre the world of work, resolving member queries, often acting as the first point of contact for those keen to become involved in the union.

Whilst recruitment campaigns can run successfully throughout the year, ensuring any planning of engagement with students occurs in advance of Autumn start dates when cohorts begin journalism and media courses, can prove successful. Branches and chapels should ensure a timeline of action is in place to maximise opportunities to build networks and promote the union to students.

Planning a timetable of action

This can include:

  • Identifying courses and universities to engage with using the UCAS search tool as a starting point
  • Capturing freshers event dates and opportunities to speak with students at journalism colleges/university fairs
  • Making contact with student newspapers and radio stations
  • Developing relationships with course leaders - they can be helpful contacts promoting the NUJ to students
  • Ensuring reps are allocated to attend events including those where no speaking opportunities are offered  
  • Downloading recruitment materials including the union’s ‘reasons to join’ poster and student materials to hand out at events
  • Promoting the union’s George Viner Memorial Fund bursaries for black and minority ethnic student journalists (note July deadline for applications)
  • Asking existing student members to provide quotes about the benefits of being an NUJ member that can be shared
  • Planning template emails to send to members in their first month of membership. See more detail on this in the ‘retaining student members’ section below
Tailoring approaches

Tailoring communication with student members is important. Just like our full members, each person will have different reasons for considering membership. Student members may be at different stages of studying and gauging their knowledge of the union will be a helpful start to conversations.

The union’s equality bodies, and democratic decision-making processes lie at the core of the NUJ. Remind student members that as members, they can become involved in activism within the union - a great way to learn more about our structures.  

Journalism courses in Ireland

Here is a list of institutions to consider making contact with:

  • Technological University  Dublin

  • Dublin City University

  • Griffith College

  • National University of Ireland, Galway

  • University College Maynooth 

  • Munster Technological University

  • University of Ulster Coleraine

  • University of Limerick

  • University of Ulster

  • Queens university, Belfast

Tip: remember, students may not always be aware they are eligible for membership. Those studying courses within media but not journalism specifically, may be surprised to learn that the NUJ is the trade union for them. When engaging with students over 16, remember to explore this using language that is jargon free and welcoming.

Our crib sheet on making contact with students contains helpful guidance on how and when to arrange events/talks, and tips for planning your recruitment campaign. It includes:

  • Template letter to local journalism college or university department
  • Helpful bullets to expand on in presentations
  • Useful case studies demonstrating the campaigning work of the union, and more

Access our frequently asked questions one-pager tackling common queries:

  • I am not studying a journalism course. Can I still join the NUJ?
  • Do I automatically become a full member when I finish studying?
  • I'm not sure I'll need help from the NUJ, do I still need to join?
  • How does the NUJ's work impact students?
Retaining student members

  • Plan an audit to identify student members within your branch. You may wish to set targets for recruitment to focus on in the Autumn academic intake
  • Review information sent to members before their course ends. This is a great opportunity to explain why remaining an NUJ member is important for next career steps
  • Running a recruitment campaign can be a great way of organising members within the union. Use quotes from existing student and full members that highlight the importance of being in the union, and the impact our work has on the media industry
Encouraging student activism

  • Social media takeover days – allow student members to plan content and post on your social media, sharing experiences of being an NUJ member
  • Facilitate a student meet and greet – online/in person. Ensure online meetings taking place are inclusive with closed captions provided
  • Encourage student members to attend branch meetings to find out more about priority local issues
  • Ask students what priority areas they would like the NUJ to campaign on 
  • Ensure members are aware of NUJ Active and Informed and how to receive publications
Keep in touch with members

  • Introduce the work of the chapel to members and consider a welcome email with an introductory message from a rep
  • Include a section for students in your branch newsletter and highlight events taking place ( they can attend
  • Remind members about how they become involved in the union by sharing an interview with a rep about their NUJ journey so far
Online meetings tips for accessibility and inclusion

It’s been over two years since the covid-19 pandemic began and many of us found ourselves attending online meetings and webinars, up-skilling on digital platforms. When planning student network events online, it’s important they are held in inclusive and accessible ways. Here are steps to take:

•    Ask in advance if members have access requirements and how these may be supported

•    Encourage people to stay muted when others are speaking, to avoid background noise

•   Activate automatic captions as a default. These are not perfect and require people to speak clearly and not overlap, which is good practice for any meeting

•    Encourage those who can, to have their video on when speaking and ensure their faces are clearly seen and well-lit to support lipreading

•    Request that all contributions are made through the chair and summarise key contributions or points to support understanding

•    For larger meetings and public facing events where accurate captions are necessary, book a Speech To Text Reporter. BSL interpreters should be booked well in advance where attendees use British Sign Language. Further information can be found below

•  For in-person meetings, consider locations with minimal background noise and good lighting where members can see speakers clearly. Be aware that lipreading is tiring and not always reliable. Automatic transcriptions such as Otter or speech to text apps are unlikely to work well and good chairing of meetings is important to ensure inclusion

Zoom auto captions
Auto captions can be enabled within Zoom by logging into the account through the browser and changing the settings as below. This cannot be done during a meeting but once the settings are enabled, they remain in place unless changed again: 
•   sign into Zoom
•   ‘In Meeting (Advanced)’ > allow ‘Closed Captioning’ and 
•   ‘Enable live transcription service’
•   when a meeting starts, the host selects the CC icon at the bottom of the screen to select ‘enable auto transcription

Attendees then click on the CC icon in the Zoom meeting to choose running captions or a side window with the full transcript

Young members


The NUJ's Fair Deal for Freelances campaign calls for much-needed action from government and the media sector. It also details how branches and chapels can best support freelances.

Student members may freelance whilst studying and go on to do so in their career. When engaging with them, remember to highlight our campaigning work for freelances, and the support offered as part of their transition to full members.

Freelance Charter
  • 19 Nov 2020
  • Publications

Journalists' safety

The NUJ's safety film features members sharing their experiences of abuse experienced in the course of their work. The film can be used as a powerful recruitment tool when presenting at events/talking with students about priority areas for the union.

Concerns around social media abuse towards journalists are valid, and explaining our work on safety presents an opportunity to show our campaigning work.

Have you run a successful student recruitment campaign you'd love to share? email [email protected]

Return to listing