Guidance for University Governing Bodies

Guide for Governing Bodies

The Committee of University Chairs and the National Union of Students have worked collaboratively to produce a guide for Governing Bodies about working with students’ unions, in recognition of the key role that students’ unions play in enhancing the student experience.

This guide adds to what is said about students’ unions in the Committee of University Chairs Guide for Members of Higher Education Governing Bodies and provides additional detail about the role of the University Governing Bodies in relation to students’ unions.

8 principles of excellent working relationships

In 2010 the National Union of Students has undertook a two year project researching the relationships that exist between Students’ Unions and Higher Education Institutions, the governance of students’ unions and developed associated guidance. Since its launch NUS has continued to update the site with new guidance, model documents and shared practice and the Code now forms a core part of NUS’ Quality Students’ Unions mark. We are grateful to our partners for their ongoing support.

Our original research and subsequent work have demonstrated that there is a high level of commitment across the sector to building and maintaining positive working relationships between Higher Education Institutions and students’ unions.

The project identified eight key principles that underpin excellent working relationships:

  • Strategic Partnership;
  • Student Centred;
  • Respect & Understanding;
  • Openness & Trust;
  • Mutual Support & Commitment;
  • Independence;
  • Accountability;
  • Diversity & Equality;

These principles have been drawn together into a ‘Relationship Agreement’ (Appendix B) which the Committee of University Chairs has endorsed alongside Universities UK and GuildHE.

Working together to achieve excellence

The guide for Governing Bodies explains how the Committee of University Chairs would encourage Governing Bodies of Universities to work with their students’ unions to strengthen their relationship. The Relationship Agreement has been used as a framework for the guide and includes further detail as to how each principle can be applied in practice.

The Committee of University Chairs commends the Relationship Agreement to governing bodies and invites them to consider the merits of committing to the Relationship Agreement jointly with their students’ union and working collaboratively to ensure that the associated principles are embedded throughout both organisations.