The Framework for the Development of Strong and Effective College Students’ Associations in Scotland took place on 3rd June 2015 at an event hosted by Forth Valley College at which the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Angela Constance MSP was the main speaker. It was attended by Forth Valley college students and staff as well as the key partners involved in its development and publication.
It outlines key principles and themes that will ensure that college students’ associations are supported to ensure they are autonomous, accountable and representative. Already sparqs and NUS Scotland are working with colleges to assist them in achieving the aspirations of the Framework.
The Framework was developed by the Scottish Government, NUS Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council, and also endorsed by Colleges Scotland. It was developed following the 2012 Griggs Report recommendation which set out a series of principles which it recommended for students' associations in the regionalised college sector. The report said students' associations should be sustainable, autonomous and appropriately funded.
The Scottish Government agreed with this recommendation, and at the sparqs and NUS Scotland Creating the Future conference in August 2013, the Scottish Funding Council announced the establishment of a working group tasked with creating best practice guidance on creating strong students' associations. The sector has been consulted widely on this, including a series of four Strategic Dialogue events held in April and May 2014 and three 'framework validation meetings' held in January 2015 to ensure that the published Framework and accompanying resources meet the needs of the sector.
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance said:
“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.”
“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:
“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.“
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 Students’ 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.”
The full press release can be read on the dedicated SA Framework website, which contains supporting documentation, including a Self-Evaluation and Development Planning Tool, useful links and information around the continued support offered by NUS Scotland and sparqs.