Good Governance

Good governance is essential for students’ union to function effectively. This website has been developed as a result of the work undertaken by the NUS ‘Good Governance Project’. It now forms part of NUS Quality Students’ Unions framework which the supports organisational development of our member unions.

The Good Governance Project

In 2010 NUS undertook a two year project to support the improvement of the governance of students’ unions, with the view to building stronger relationships between students’ unions (SUs) and higher education institutions (HEIs). This project was funded by the HEFCE; Leadership, Governance and Management Fund.

Project Partners

Universities UK, GuildHE, the Committee of University Chairs, the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, and the Association of Heads of University Administration all supported this project and were represented on the original project steering group, alongside a number of pilot students’ unions and universities. Since its development the Good Governance Code has been incorporated into Quality Students’ Union and now forms a core part of that framework.

Project Research

A range of research was undertaken to identify examples of good practice across the sector and beyond. Students’ unions and higher education institutions throughout England took part in a survey which focused on students’ union governance and the relationships that exist between students’ unions and higher education institutions. 63% of all higher education institutions and 70% of all students’ unions took part and provided some extremely rich data. This data has informed the development of the range of practice guidance available on this site.

Practice Guidance

There is a range of practice guidance which can be found on this site including:

  • Good Governance Code of Practice for Students’ Unions
  • Self Assessment Tool-kit
  • Relationship Agreement
  • Guidance for University Governing Bodies

This section of NUS connect also acts as a hub for accessing additional resources including a range of information developed by NUS, examples of shared practice from other students’ unions and links to other sources of governance related advice and guidance.

Good Governance & Quality Students’ Unions

Unions are able to opt to evidence their governance standard for Quality Students’ Unions by utilising the NUS Good Governance Code of Practice. Governance is one of the components of Quality Students’ Unions which is recognised as creating a ceiling for the overall quality rating.

For example, if a union is judged to be ‘Very good’ for democracy an overall quality rating of ‘Very good’ is the maximum that can be achieved regardless of the standard reached in other areas. The same principle applies to each of the five components listed above.. These five components have been selected as they are fundamental features of effective students’ unions.

For more information please see the Full Guide to Quality Students’ Unions

Links with other good practice guidance

The NUS Good Governance Code of Practice, has been informed by and links directly to the national ‘Governance Code of Practice for the Voluntary and Community Sector’ which has been developed by a Steering Group made up of experts from the field of Third Sector governance.