Students are vital in setting the mission and values of the colleges and universities in which they study. Student involvement in all levels of governance is key to making sure that institutions’ long-term strategies are in the best interests of their most important stakeholders – students.
Students deserve a seat at the table in the key strategic decisions of their institution. In 2011, we won on keeping student governors in further education a legal requirement, despite growing freedoms for colleges to change their governance arrangements.
Student participation in decision-making should be built into the culture of institutions and all boards and sub-committees in institutions should be considering the views of students in every decision they make.
This is more than just having student representatives. It is creating strategies that embed a culture of student voice that empowers students and students’ unions to get their voices heard.
Boards of governors also have the responsibility for ensuring the students’ union, where one exists, is open and democratic, and financially accountable.
A challenge for boards of governors across further and higher education is to recruit women and ethnic minorities in to governance roles.
NUS and students’ unions have long campaigned for increased student representation and involvement in the governance of colleges.
Through our Student Governor Support Programme, we are developing student governors and supporting institutions to become more open, accessible and welcoming towards student voice and fostering a culture of student voice throughout the sector.
• Student Governor Support Programme
• Association of Colleges Governance Hub
• Safeguarding and Young People in Positional Power
Higher Education Governance
It is now standard practice that boards of governors in higher education will include student representation and including a student governor is recognised as best practice by the Committee of University Chairs. Students are further represented in many institutions across a range of governance and management bodies.
We provide an audit toolkit to help students’ unions determine how democratic their institutional decision-making processes are, including assessing the diversity of their governing bodies. NUS is campaigning for greater representation of women and BME staff in HE governance and management, as well as for more transparent and accountable decision making.