Almost all students’ unions share a similar set of values. These are typically selfless in nature – promoting things like democracy, equality and collectivism. Yet so often, we speak to students as if they are more motivated by selfish values – trying to engage them through promises of financial reward, status, power and influence. Why do we do this? And is it the most effective way of motivating students to participate in our activities?
NUS conducted studies and found that most students, like students’ unions, have predominantly selfless values. But almost all students’ unions’ communications rely on appealing to more selfish values when trying to motivate students to take action on things like democracy, volunteering and welfare. This may not be engaging the greatest number of students possible. Or worse, using a mixture of competing values, risk engaging nobody.
This report illustrates the gap between our organisational values and the values we promote in our communications and assume as important to our members. Rethinking how we speak to students could increase their engagement with us and more effectively strengthen our values across society.