Why it is essential to engage the student body in this process
The 1992 Act and the 1994 Education Act state that it is a legal requirement for a students' association to have a constitution. Any changes to a constitution or the creation of a new constitution needs agreement from both the Student Association and the Board of Managers.
Other than legal responsibilities, the merging or the federalisation of colleges and their students' associations will have a direct impact upon the student experience. Engaging the student body and allowing elected officers to represent their views will make sure that the new college structures fit students' needs.
Taking the opportunity to further develop a working relationship between the institution and the student body would not only be of benefit during the transition but also for the future.
Consider the following roles and responsibilities during a merger or federation:
- Students' Union Officers.
- Student Governors.
- Student Liaison Officers.
- NUS support.
Roles and responsibilities of a students' association during a merger or federation
Students' Union Officers should remember that they are the "main channel of communication between the college and the students", and so are a key stakeholder in the college.
It is likely that you will be invited to discuss the proposals along with other students in the form of a meeting or meetings, but you should also push to respond formally as a students' union.
This gives you a chance to consult with students, consult with the other students' union(s), talk to NUS Scotland and make an official submission from a students' perspective at that consultation phase.
Student Governors have a vital role to play both in being part of the Board that manages this process, but also in inputting concerns from the student perspective. If the Governors are not linked to the students' union we advise that they meet with the students' union to ensure effective student liaison.
Student Liaison Officers (SLO's) also have a vital role to play in supporting both the above in representing the students' views. This might mean facilitating a meeting, or helping to write up the student union response to the consultation.
That said SLO's should avoid directing the views of the students or being seen to "take over". SLO's are often key to ensuring that students' voices are heard and presented, but can sometimes feel under pressure, so we advise SLO's to talk through some of the issues with their line manager and / or NUS Scotland before helping their students in this way.
The National Union of Students (NUS Scotland) and Student Partnerships in Quality Scotland (sparqs) are able to provide advice, guidance and support during and after a merger process.
This guidance was developed in 2012 and will be reviewed in 2017.
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