12 Jun 2013

Partnerships for Change: How Far We've Come

We look at some of the amazing things students’ associations have achieved during the first year of Partnerships for Change – and we look forward to next year’s challenges, and the support that Partnerships for Change will be offering.

With the Partnerships for Change project approximately mid-way through, regionalisation and the work of students’ associations and colleges, is only just beginning.

There have been some amazing achievements this year which put Students’ Associations in a really strong position to meet the challenges to come. Partnerships for Change has been working closely with students’ associations to support them to plan and meet their goals.

  • An estimated £1,805,000 will be committed from the SFC’s Transformation Fund to support student engagement and students’ association development over two years.
  • There will be approximately 45 paid student officers – 24 of them full time sabbaticals – in post next year across the 13 college regions. That’s more than double the 19 paid officers who were in post in 2012/13.
  • Two students’ associations took on new staff members to support their work on regionalisation, funded through the Transformation Fund. Another region is recruiting a Research Manager and Assistant to research what the best student representation structure for them is. Longer term staff support for students’ associations is being discussed now; it’s important to make sure that the right type of staff support is in place to help the students’ association develop strategically.
  • There have been student members on every Partnership and Shadow Board in Scotland, doing an amazing job of understanding piles of complex papers and making sure that the Board was able to take student perspective into account.
  • Students’ associations have used a variety of methods to engage and consult students on regionalisation, such as the Fife Student Ambassadors who have gathered feedback from hundreds of students.
  • Students’ associations in multi-college regions have come together as partners to manage the difficult task of negotiating their own mergers, or the creation of new regional structures. All students’ associations have a working structure in place for next year. In some cases it’s a fairly advanced merger; in others a Memorandum of Understanding is in place between the students’ associations to govern how they will work together while they consult on and plan their future further.
  • Almost all students’ associations were able to agree structures and funding in time to hold sabbatical elections in May/June – meaning that the new officers will be able to get ready for the new academic year over the summer, and to take advantage of the NUS and sparqs summer training programme for officers.

While all merging colleges will be officially vested by the end of November 2013, the real work of regionalisation is just beginning and next year’s officers will face the challenge of completing their students’ association’s restructure, and with representing the student voice in the college’s processes as detail of their college’s regionalisation begins.

The immediate priority for outgoing officers, new officers, and staff will be the handover; making sure that the new officers are fully up to date with everything the students’ association is involved in, and know how systems work. If you feel you need support with this please speak to your Partnerships for Change consultant.

The priority for the summer and next year is for the students’ associations and colleges to work in partnership with each other to strengthen and develop both the students’ association and the college. Partnerships for Change can offer support such as facilitating Strategic Partnership Days to enable student officers and staff to explore these issues in more depth, as well as offering advice and resources.

We will also be offering a range of training aimed at staff on getting the most out of your students’ association. This includes training for college board members on working with their student member, in partnership with Colleges Scotland, and training on working with sabbatical officers. Keep your eye out for more details in future newsletter articles! If you have identified any particular training needs speak to your consultant and we should be able to organise something for you.

We held a Conference on the 21st August 2013 aimed at student officers and senior staff which will bring together key people from across the sector to share learning and ideas and explore what students’ associations will be in the new college sector.

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