Student Officer consultation

Tell us your thoughts on our new representative model

Students told us that we should change our representation processes, we did some research and have come up with a proposal.

The Union has been reviewing the charity’s democratic processes since 2016, in consultation with over 3,000 students through focus groups, surveys and questionnaires.

The Union's democratic processes include the Union Actioning Body (UAB) which is made of a range of elected representatives from the student body. Some of these roles, including Student Officers, have not been reviewed or amended for at least ten years.

With the support of the charity’s trustees, the Union is ready to share a new democratic model that aims to represent students more fairly.

What students have told us

In the current Student Officer model, students have identified the following drawbacks:

  • The 10 current positions are not always filled as they are set
  • The roles have set remits with limited flexibility
  • Officers may not engage wider student communities
  • Officer activity could be more transparent
  • Lack of support structure to backup Officers' activity and campaigns
  • One elected individual is less representative than a group

What is going to change?

The Union is proposing a new Representative Network Model which would replace the current Student Officer Model.

Students would be able join networks that represent a liberation area (such as BME or LGBT), shared interest group (such as mature students) or a particular mode of study (such as postgraduates).

This would replace the current Student Officer Model where only one student is elected by the student body and is currently not supported or empowered to engage the community or area they should represent.

In the network model, all members of a network can be actively engaged in developing campaigns and relevant student ideas. Networks would select their own Network Representative Chair, from within the network membership, to represent them at the Union Actioning Body (UAB) and ensure their voice is heard.

A key feature of the new Representative Network Model is that these networks will be reviewed and renewed on an annual basis. Annual reviews should give more opportunity and flexibility for new networks to form inline with current student issues, in turn offering better equity of voice across the student body. Networks will be suggested by the Union’s insights function and setup by UAB each summer before the next academic year.

The networks are designed to be fluid and won’t have set structures meaning that progress can happen whether there are a handful or a hundreds of people engaging. Where a network is struggling UAB will be required to review it and identify the reason for lack of engagement.

What won’t be changing?

  • The Have Your Say Process – Including how ideas are submitted, actioned, voted on
  • Sabbatical Officers – These roles are not changing. We will be undertaking consultation on the roles next academic year.
  • Accountability - How this happens
  • Union Zones remain the same but will be reviewed each year

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