An update from your Students’ Union

Following a resolution at the Union’s Board of Trustees meeting in August of 2019, a change has been made to your Students’ Union bye-laws.

The Students’ Union Bye-Laws and Articles of Association govern how the organisation runs and operates.

In 2017 an All Student Members Meeting voted to put bye-laws and in place as below: Affiliation, or disaffiliation, to the National Union of Students (NUS) is by referendum only. NUS affiliation, or disaffiliation, may only be put to referendum once in a 2-year calendar period. Unless a referendum is approved by the Board of Trustees following a request by either a majority vote at an Executive Committee meeting, or a request to the Board from a 2/3 majority vote at an All Student Members meeting to hold an extra-ordinary affiliation vote. NUS affiliation, or non-affiliation status remains in place until a referendum takes place to change the status.

These changes to the bye-laws were approved by the Board of Trustees in 2017, following an All Student Members Meeting, to prevent student members from taking us in and out of NUS, which was causing serious reputational damage to the Students’ Union. A potential conflict between the Articles of Association and the Bye-laws however has been highlighted by our members. As a result of this the Board felt this confusion should be corrected so that our governance, and the legal requirements we have to operate to, is clear and transparent to our members.  This conflict, which appears to prevent the Trustees from carrying out their legal obligation under Charity law to manage the operations Charity as they see fit.

To ensure that there can be no confusion over our governance, following legal advice, the Board of Trustees, under their powers in Article 30.3 of the Students’ Union’s Articles of Association (below) have now revoked the addition of bye-laws and made in the last iteration of the said bye laws.  It is these bye-laws that cause confusion with the more superior governance document, our Articles of Association.

30.3 The Board of Trustees may override any decision or Policy made by the Student Members at an annual Student Members’ meeting or at a Student Members’ meeting or by Referendum or by the Accountability Forum.

This matter came to the Board’s attention following the Board’s decision in June to give notice to NUS that it intended not to be a member from the 1st January 2020 onwards.  The Students’ Union has not yet left NUS and the Student Leaders are committed to working over the next 3 months to gather student feedback, explain the decision, and to gather further opinions to verify the decision previously made by the Board to serve notice based on the Trustee’s opinion that, having weighed up all of the pros and cons, two consecutive Student Leader team’s views, and the current team’s view, that it was not in the organisation’s interest to remain a member.  The incumbent President at the time made a statement outlining the reasoning here and emailed all students informing them of the decision. This was done to ensure that Board were being transparent in their decision making.

The new bye-laws are available on the Students’ Union website here.

If you have any questions on the above matter, please email Cassie Coakley, the Students' Union President on [email protected].