28 Aug 2014

College Students' Associations Conference and the Future of National Support

With College Students’ Associations: Realising Our Potential, our second national event, the Partnerships for Change project finishes with a bang! But this is not the end of students’ associations’ journeys – or our national support. At the FE Strategic Forum on 20th August 2014, Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, announced that NUS Scotland and sparqs will receive £300,000 over the next two years to support the delivery of the Framework for developing strong and effective college students’ associations.

A joint NUS Scotland and sparqs project, funded by the SFC, Partnerships for Change began a little more than two years ago with the aim of supporting college students’ associations in merging regions through their own mergers, and supporting all students’ associations in multi-college regions to develop effective regional structures for representing the interests of their students.

Over the past two years students’ associations and student officers, with the support of their staff and Partnerships for Change, have achieved some amazing successes.

A summary of the story of college students’ associations, and the successes they have achieved, may be found in the College Students’ Associations: Celebratory Video. Even more detail about what students’ associations have been up to this year can be found in the Students’ Association Showcase. (We’ve added new material, so please download even if you received it in your delegate pack at the conference!)

Nearly one hundred college officers, association staff, college staff, and sector staff attended the conference which aimed to both celebrate the successes of the last two years, and look forward to the challenges ahead. Speakers included Alice Brown, Chair of the SFC, Jules Fitzgerald and Michelle Bingham, Presidents of New College Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire respectively, Mandy Exley, Principal of Edinburgh College, and Marc Winsland, President of Dundee and Angus College.

There was also a wide range of workshops available with topics covering both ways to develop and strengthen students’ associations, and ways for students’ associations to have a positive impact. Videos of the speakers, and materials from the workshops, will be up on the sparqs website soon.

Feedback has been extremely positive, with delegates saying that they found the conference an informative, valuable, and encouraging experience.

While the conference marks the end of the Partnerships for Change project, there are still a number of project initiatives which are still ongoing. For example, the input to the HR Resource scoping groups is currently being analysed, and will be written up into guidance on the employment status of sabbatical officers. Partnerships for Change consultants will also continue to provide individualised support to colleges and regions.

The funding announcement demonstrates that students’ associations remain a high priority for the government and the SFC. Michael Russell chose the future of students’ associations as the topic for discussion at the second FE Strategic Forum, inviting Principals, Regional Chairs, and Students’ Association Presidents to take part in the debate. Four Strategic Dialogue events, organised by the Scottish Government, SFC, and NUS Scotland have been held. As a result, a National Framework for Developing Strong and Effective Students’ Associations is due to be published in Autumn 2014. We are delighted that NUS Scotland and sparqs will be able to continue to work with colleges and students’ associations to support the delivery of this Framework, and the continuing development of strong, effective, world class students’ associations in Scotland.

For further information contact Kate Byford, Partnerships for Change Co-ordinator – kate.byford@nus-scotland.org.uk

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