NUS Wales has called on the Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning to address the inconsistencies in proposals for student representation in further and higher education governance structures.
Two reports on the governance of further and higher education were released today:
• Report of the independent review of higher education governance in Wales
• An independent review of the governance arrangements of further education institutions in Wales
NUS Wales broadly welcomes the recommendations made in both reports to create stakeholder forums, which would exist alongside governing bodies / boards in further and higher education institutions. The reports suggest that these forums would act as sounding boards; help to set the institution’s strategic direction; inform the board; challenge the board; hold the board to account and ratify appointments.
However, NUS Wales is extremely frustrated to note the lack of reserved places for students on governing bodies in two key areas:
• Institutional governance in FE
• National governance in HE
In the report on HE Governance, the recommendations include a new national funding and regulatory body (to replace HEFCW), whose board would include institutional and external directors. NUS Wales is extremely disappointed that the report fails to propose any places for students.
The NUS Wales President currently sits as an observer on HEFCW Council, and the Minister’s recent remit letter to HEFCW stated:
‘Student voice will become more, not less, important.’ (Minister for CELL)
In light of this and the ongoing changes to higher education funding, which shift more of the cost onto students, NUS Wales urges the Minister to ensure that students have a place on the proposed new funding and regulatory body.
On a positive note, NUS Wales warmly welcomes the following recommendation put forward by John McCormick in the report of the Independent Review of Higher Education Governance:
R 12 Each board should include members of the staff and student community as full members of the board not just to fulfil a representative role, but to provide essential input to strategy.
However, in contrast to this, NUS Wales is extremely disappointed to note the proposal to completely remove any reserved places for students on the governing bodies in Further Education institutions, despite the report stating that:
“Currently, FEIs are required to have one student member on the governing body, and good practice guidance issued by the Welsh Assembly Government in 2010 recommends two student members...”
We believe that Recommendation 12 in the HE Governance report should also be applied to FE institutional governance. NUS Wales urges the Minister to commit to ensuring that students have reserved places on the governing bodies of Further Education institutions.
Commenting on the reports, Katie Dalton, President of NUS Wales said:
“NUS Wales welcomes the proposed introduction of stakeholder forums to contribute, challenge and hold to account the work of Governing Bodies in both FE and HE. However, it is important that students also have reserved places on the governing boards of institutions in both FE and HE.”
“We are also very disappointed to see that the HE Governance report makes no mention of representation on the proposed national funding and regulatory body. The Minister must address these inconsistencies and ensure that students have places at every level of FE and HE governance.”