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Student voice strengthened

Student associations to help shape the work of their colleges.

College student bodies will be supported to ensure they are autonomous, accountable and representative following the publication of new guidance.

The Framework for the Development of Strong and Effective Students’ Associations in Scotland has been developed by the Scottish Government, NUS Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), and also endorsed by Colleges Scotland.

It follows the Post-16 Education Act which increased the minimum number of student members on college boards to two and required colleges to ensure students are represented by an association.

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance said yesterday:

“Students must have the strongest possible voice on campus. This was strengthened by 2013 legislation and the publication of today’s framework helps take that to the next level by setting out clearly how students’ associations can be supported to play a bigger role in shaping the future of their college.

“The framework is based around five principles for effective associations in that they should be autonomous, work in partnership, be accountable, representative and sustainable. Five key themes are covered – shaping the life and work of the college, governance and democracy, aware and active students, sustainable resources, and value and democracy.

“I am looking to colleges and associations to work together openly and respectfully to develop and maintain trust. The distinctive contribution that associations make to college life arises from their autonomous, representative role. It makes sense for colleges to support thriving students’ associations as they seek to deliver positive outcomes for students.”

Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland president-elect, added:

“NUS Scotland, and students right across Scotland, have worked incredibly hard over the last few years to get to a place where college student representation isn’t just enshrined in law but also provided the respect and value it rightfully deserves at all of our colleges, in a real and meaningful way. The launch of this Framework is the culmination of that hard work and an extremely important moment for NUS Scotland and college students.

“Over the last few years we have seen really exciting developments in college student representation. From where they were, even just a few years ago, college students’ associations have come an incredibly long way, and many easily rival their university counterparts in levels of representation, engagement and participation. This new framework will ensure that we are all working together to continue that, and see it spread right across Scotland.

“As we look ahead, the framework will help deliver the strong, sustainable and autonomous associations that our college students deserve. It will ensure that college students are empowered to take a leading role in the future of their colleges and the decisions that are made. Above all, it will mean that college students’ associations are enabled to play the full and important role on their campuses that we know they can, and must.”

Shona Struthers, Chief Executive, Colleges Scotland said:

“As the representative body for all colleges in Scotland, we endorse the new framework. It is an important and welcome step forward, ensuring that students are valued and supported through their students’ associations.

“All colleges recognise that students are at the heart of how colleges work. It is only right that they have an effective voice at the governance table where key decisions are made.

“Colleges look forward to working with all parties to ensure the new framework is fully implemented, allowing colleges to continue to have much more consultation with students to enhance the college experience.”

Lorraine Simpson, Forth Valley College Student Association President, also said:

“I’m really excited about this Framework, which has been created in partnership with key organisations across the sector. It brings together the agreed values and principles that ensures Student Associations – sector wide – will get the respect and support they deserve. It also means we get the accountability and the responsibility to put our ideas into action and make sure the student voice is heard.

“This year our Student Association and Forth Valley College have worked together on a lot of great projects including campaigns against domestic abuse, promoting health and wellbeing and encouraging our students to be creative in their learning. We are all looking forward to building on these initiatives through the creation and implementation of this Framework.”

Notes To Editors

The framework can be found here.


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