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We’re asking students to get involved and have their say on proposals to change how students decide what the Students’ Union does and believes.

How do students currently decide what the Students’ Unions does and believes?

Currently any student can submit an idea to Union Council on what they think the Students’ Union should do or believe. Union Council is held monthly during term-time with membership of over 1,000 students including the Full-time Officers, Volunteer Officers, Academic and Institute Reps, UMCA Executive as well as a Sports and Society Committee members. Here the idea is presented, discussed and voted on; if passed it becomes Union Policy and remains in place for up to three years or until it is achieved.

What are the challenges of this?

We researched other similar Students’ Unions which typically operate slimmer and more effective structures of between 20-40 voting members with many now using online mechanisms to gather feedback on ideas from all students in advance of the meeting.

In recent years our existing Union Council has failed to reach its quoracy of 50 voting members on a number of occasions, despite the number eligible to vote and numerous attempts to communicate its benefit and value to those members.

Among the biggest challenges faced by the Students’ Union is to have a system of representative democracy which gives student leaders the ability to make decision on behalf of all students, but in which all students are able to shape the Union’s beliefs and actions.

Feedback from consultations carried out in March highlighted that the majority of those who are currently members are so by the nature of the positions in which they hold and not specifically because of any desire to attend and vote at Union Council. For example, Committee members primarily stand to develop and lead their Club or Society not to decide what the Union does or believes, although they would always like the ability to contribute to this. Further that meetings tended to be too long, not relevant to the various role/position in which they are representing or how they wish to be involved in the Union.

What is the Union proposing to change?

As a result of this feedback and research over the past month, we have been working on a set of proposals below for the future of Union Council which are due to be discussed at a meeting later.

These proposals are:

  • The renaming of Union Council to become Senedd
  • The replacing of Academic Reps, UMCA Executive as well as Sports and Society Committee members by:
    • The creation of 10 new places to be filled by representatives of Sports and Societies equally.
    • The creation of 2 new places to be filled by members of the UMCA Executive.
    • Institute Reps will stille be members.
  • Introduction of a new quoracy of 50%+1 of voting members.
  • Time limits on debates, which can be extended by voting members when required.
  • Notification of policy due to lapse at the first meetings of each academic year.

Its felt these changes would reduce the overall membership of Union Council while ensuring a breadth of representation, increasing the accountability of voting members and effectiveness of such meetings.

As part of these proposals we are asking all students for to give their views on the changes proposed, asking for your comments and whether you agree with the changes proposed.

Running until 6pm Sunday 17th June we’re giving all students the chance to comment on proposals relating to the future of how we make decisions on behalf of all students.

You can vote using the unique voting link sent directly to your university email.

If you have questions about the proposals or would like more information please email union.elections@aber.ac.uk.


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