what this means for student representation here.

Key ingredients for effective student
associations and representation: 2 years on
David Scott
Institutional Support and Development Manager
Student Participation in Quality
Funded by the Scottish Funding Council since 2003 to
support students and institutions by:
– Supporting students to engage in enhancing their education
– Supporting institutions and students’ associations to have
effective student engagement mechanisms and practices
– Supporting student engagement in national policy
– Supporting the development of a culture of student engagement
across Scotland
Current context
Post-16 Education (Scotland) Act 2013
Review of FE governance in Scotland - Griggs
Thirteen college regions
Ten regions with single incorporated college
Two with a Regional Board, one (UHI) with a Regional
Strategic Body
• Efficient learner journeys
• Alignment of curriculum portfolio between FE/HE
• Student engagement – re-affirmed (also in QAA/Ed Scotland)
Students Associations are part of the fabric of
university and college life, for socialising, for sports and
for other activities. But they also play a key role in
representing students in times of difficulty, both
academically and personally. It is vital, therefore that
the students of all institutions have an effective body
to represent their interests, support them and help
them integrate into further and higher education.
Cabinet Secretary for Education
Griggs Report recommended that:
“Student participation and representation become a
commitment across the College Sector. Student
Associations should be strengthened and become
appropriately funded, autonomous and sustainable.”
Griggs 2012 – Recommendation 23
• SFC funded project – NUS and sparqs
• Consultancy provided to each Scottish college going through a
merger process
• Engaging students in the merger process
• Supporting the merger of college student associations
• Assisting in the development of structures and constitutions
• Assisting in the development of Transformation Fund bids
Recommendation 23
• One of the key recommendations in the Griggs
review of FE governance
• Working Group – SFC, Scottish Government, NUS,
Regional Lead
• Strategic Dialogue events across Scotland
• National Framework – principles and components of
effective, autonomous, and sustainable Student
Future support for Student
• August 2014 - 2 year project funded by the Scottish
Funding Council – NUS/sparqs
• £300K
• Further consultancy and capacity building
• Based on the national Framework
• Range of partners involved long-term
Emerging good practice across the
• Sabbatical officers
– 19 before regionalisation
– 49 current position
Highlighted at all of the Strategic Dialogues by students and
staff as one of the key features of progress in the capacity
and effectiveness of Student Associations –
availability, visibility, flexibility
• Support staff
– No accurate figures across the sector but a definite increase (for
example D & A College, 2 engagement officers – now four engagement
officers and a Sports Union Officer)
Appropriate skills required
Training support to officers and the association
Support for strategic, operational and budget planning
Link to college structures and staff
Consistency between academic years
Representation - hearing the student
• Course rep structures and processes
– aligned with institutional feedback and quality processes
– are students able to play a full part – training, timing,
• Membership of key committees
– are students members of key decision-making committees;
are they given papers, trained?
• Flow of information
– does the student association have access to key data –
learner survey results, PIs etc.?
Student Association area
• Dedicated space
– Raised at Strategic Dialogue events as important to the
visibility of the student association
– Focal point for students – central location preferably rather
than in a back room
– Accessible for students and provides for a space for
planning, meeting with people and promoting the
association and events/activities
Training and Hand-over
• Sparqs training for officers – College Leadership
• Institutional training programme – how things work
• CPD programme
• NUS and sparqs events throughout the year
• Effective hand-over from one year to the next
– contacts, plans, committees – two weeks
Communication strategy
• Development of a communication strategy
– SA website preferably one that is easily accessible from the
institutional front page or is the student home page at login
– Online survey capability – creative approach to capturing
student interests and views
– Online data access
– Social media
– Use of video technology to increase access and encourage
– Feedback loop important – student views matter and can effect
Staff buy-in
• Partnership – engagement works best when staff are
committed to and promote student representation
and engagement
– Promote the Student Association and the class rep system
– Facilitate the gathering of student views and reporting
back to students
– Encourage student participation in decision-making on
their college programme
Student Partnership Agreements
 Define and capture the relationship between the student
association and the institution
 Outline the areas of work on which the student association
and the institution will work together over a given period of
 Make clear to students how they can get involved in helping
to shape the student experience
 Raise the profile of quality systems within institutions
 Give an opportunity for institutions and student associations
to sit down and discuss the way they interact
1. Student Health and Wellbeing
This work stream will build on the achievements of the NUS-sponsored Student Mental
Health partnership project that ran in 2012-13. It will extend the scope and range of
activities and resources relating to student mental health and will also incorporate the
development, dissemination and awareness raising of sexual health issues and resources.
2. Assessment Feedback
This work stream will take deliberate steps to address this issue which recurs perennially
across the sector and has been a feature of various internal student survey outcomes. The
university and UHISA will work together to uncover the reasons for student concern about
assessments and work towards the full implementation and enhancement of assessment
policy and practice.
3. Social Integration
This work stream will address another recurrent issue in institutional student survey
feedback: that of ensuring that all students feel a sense of belonging to the university and/or
their peer groups. The university and UHISA will work together to finalise the social
experience policy and to ensure its implementation through a partnership approach.
Dundee University/DUSA –
Student Partnership Agreement
Assessment and feedback
Reading lists
Student Support Environment Review
Personal Academic Tutors/Advisors of Studies
Planning and self-evaluation
• Strategic and operational planning (possibly in line with the
institutional Outcome Agreement)
• Public documents which can be discussed with the student
body and used to assist evaluation
• Self-evaluation
• Evaluation through institutional student surveys and in the
case of higher education, the NSS – FE pilots to begin soon on
a national set of questions
• Regular reporting on progress to the Board
…if the Association is not well funded, then you will get the
“association you deserve!”
• National Framework is looking at a possible formula as
guidance on the funding of Student Associations
– Size
– Number of campuses
– Distance
• Budgetary planning – what are you as an association planning
to do – how much will it cost? What are the priorities?
Sharing good practice – looking
• Danger of looking inwards and only focusing on local campus
issues – common issues across the UHI network (and further)
• Regional and national issues – networking of good practice
and identification of solutions
• More student officers in colleges in Scotland – national
perspectives emerging – strength and support in attendance
at national and regional events
• UHI can lead on methods of addressing the geographical
challenges – common issue across FE
• Sustainability
• Culture of partnership and engagement throughout the institution –
strong student/staff buy-in with evidence of joint working
• Student Association listens to its members (the student body) and
represents their views to the college/university and reports back
• There are a range of formal and informal mechanisms for students
to make their views known
• The college/university welcomes student views and works with the
Student Association in partnership but is mature enough to know
that there will be times when it takes a differing view
The relationship matrix, Cadogan
Summing up
Culture of partnership – institutional buy-in/SPAs
Active officers
Support staff
Planning and self-evaluation
Course rep structures
Space – presence on campus
Sharing good practice – outward focus
Contact details
David Scott
Institutional Support and Development Manager
[email protected]
07977 980 867

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