QSU has been designed for unions that are set up as organisations and as such, would benefit from an organisational development improvement tool and quality framework. Smaller unions, particularly those in FE, may find the Learner Voice Framework more useful. However, FE and Small and Specialist unions have completed QSU to a high level and found the process to be beneficial. NUS is here to support all member unions to use QSU should they wish to. In Scotland, colleges work towards the Framework for the Development of Strong and Effective College Students’ Associations in Scotland.
It’s not just for ‘big’ unions – QSU is focused on how ingrained good practice is across your union in a way that’s suitable for your context.
It can be used in a variety of different ways:
- A new CEO of a SU might use the framework to find out how their union is currently performing.
- A specialist within a union, for example a comms manager, could look specifically at the communications section to help shape their work in line with best practice from across the movement.
- It can be used as a strategic planning or self-diagnostic tool for unions – comparing best practice in the framework to how they’re is currently performing and building an action plan to improve quality and impact.
- Unions can get verification to externally showcase their quality – some particularly like ‘the badge’ that comes with this.
- New students' unions can use it to ensure their setting themselves up well.
- Institutions can use the framework to identify how best to support their students’ union to be excellent quality – unions may use this to negotiate more support or funding.
- It helps NUS collect and share good practice in the movement.
Many unions who've used the tool have reflected on how useful it's been for bringing the staff, officer and trustee team within a union together - using the QSU framework to work towards shared goals and building a sense of shared purpose.
Here's what some of the unions who were verified in 2018/19 said about the benefits of the programme:
"It's an honest, supportive, constructive, external viewpoint on the performance of your organisation."
"Helps us to think about what we’re good at and not so good at."
"It brought everyone together through a development journey using a benchmark."
"Because we were a new SU we wanted to make sure we had set everythng up correctly, had something to benchmark against and get an action plan."