Most tertiary students are automatic members of their national student union, and the international union of students, through affiliation of their campus student bodies. Subscriptions come from block grants that universities and colleges pay directly to the international union to support their own local student union organizations, or individually from compulsory student union fees. Only a tiny number of student unions have opted out and individual students have no option to do so, even if the union is taking a political stance, campaigning politically or engaged in activities to which they object.
In the UK, between 2 and 5% of union activity is political, the rest being mundane function such as running bars or sports clubs.
Fees for services, representation and membership of provider organizations should not be an automatic part of university life.
Student unions are part of public institutions; they are not trade unions or a professional organization upholding ethics. They are an integral part of a broad liberal education philosophy, providing practical services, cultural and social opportunities as well as a forum for open and critical debate. All students benefit because all students are members, and membership has always been one facet of the experience that students gain when voluntarily entering the tertiary system. Without completely representative unions, universities would not be encouraged to maintain the host of services, representation and welfare assistance for students.