Relationship Agreement

Principles that underpin excellent working relationships between Higher Education Institutions and Students’ Unions have been identified and formulated into a Relationship Agreement.


Endorsed by:

Universities UK          Guild HE
In association with:
ARC          BUFDG


The Relationship Agreement


1. Strategic Partnership;

Spirit of partnership between HEI and SU informing the strategic direction of both parties and informing service agreements.

Informed engagement of SU representatives in key institutional decision-making bodies.


2. Student Centred;

Shared commitment to developing and improving students’ experience of academia and extra-curricular aspects of their lives.


3. Respect & Understanding;

Clarity about, and mutual understanding of, the distinct roles of the HEI and the SU and the value that each party brings to the relationship.


4. Openness & Trust;

Full, open, regular communication on relevant issues, in particular issues likely to have an impact on the other party, the student population and/or other joint stakeholders.


5. Mutual Support & Commitment;

Constructive interactions

Demonstrable commitment to making the relationship work through investment of time and resources.


6. Independence;

Recognition of the value of a strong, student-led Students’ Union empowered to determine and manage its own affairs.

Recognition of the need for the HEI to balance the interests of a range of stakeholders within an increasingly challenging external context.


7. Accountability;

Accountability of SU to HEI as supervisor (under the 1994 Education Act) and principal funder, within a mutually agreed framework which is robust, effective, efficient and compatible with the reporting requirements of other regulators (where relevant), such as The Charity Commission, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and/or Companies House.

Acknowledgement by HEI that the SU is a major stakeholder and primary body representing the student voice.


8. Diversity & Equality;

A shared commitment to equality and diversity and the fair treatment of all staff and students.


Higher education institutions and students’ unions are encouraged to jointly sign up to this Relationship Agreement and work together to embed the principles across both organisations. Alternatively the principles can be used as a basis for developing tailored localised agreements.


Students’ unions and higher education institutions may wish to use the Relationship Agreement as the framework for an annual audit of the relationships that exist between them.