Tally Kerr

Vice President Communications


Trustees - December 2016

As I said in my previous blog about Trustees, my aim is to keep everyone in the loop with key decisions that are being made and how we come to these decisions so we can be held to account.

At this board meeting on the 8th December 2016 the minutes of the previous meeting were approved so these will be available to read on the Union’s website within 10 working days or you can read a summary [here]

The members of Audit and Risk, HR and Remuneration and Elections Appeals Committees were approved. These committees discuss technical matters and put forward suggestions for the Board to approve.

There was then a discussion about the National Student Survey which will be launched soon for all final years to fill out. This year the question about the SU has changed to ‘The Students’ Union (association or guild) effectively represents students’ academic interests’ and some nervousness about this change from a general positive impact was noted.

Our Cheif Executive Martyn has an annual review of his performance from an external organisation which the board went though and agreed was an accurate representation of him.

We then had an update of the draft statutory accounts and commercial finances in which a lot of areas are in growth and are in line with budget, catering especially is going better than predicted.

NU:Lets is also generally meeting targets and we’re doing another housing fair in the new year. We had a discussion about changing legislation around admin fees in letting agents and although we will have lost our unique selling point of not charging admin fees, other agents who have built their business model based on admin fees might withdraw from the market.

One of our external trutees, David Ingman is due to retire as a trustee in April. Recruitment of a new external trustee will be taking place though an agency and we’re looking for a similar skill set in finance.

We approved a draft of our new safeguarding policy for under 18s or vulnerable adults. We’ve not had one previously because the capacity we work with these people is usually in other organisations which have their own, and we’ve never had reports of safeguarding issues before. Ours is developed from the university policy but modified because volunteers will have different interactions with vulnerable people than university staff.

Our policy establishes a method of reporting witnessing or reports of abuse and acknowledges projects/groups of concern eg. project ICE. An additional internal document is going to be created to support to students or staff subject who’ve had malicious/incorrect reports made against them. 

Our health and safety policy was also revised because of the new tenants in the building, Santander.

We had a discussion about the legal form (status) of the SU. It’s currently an unincorporated association so we don't have our own legal identity which was decided by previous trustees as they weren’t concerned with personal liability. Currently approximately 60% of SUs have become incorporated so we looked at NUS guidance about options of legal forms with pros and cons.

The cost of incorporating could increase in the future, a larger proportion of this cost depending on how many SUs incorporate at once (more unions at once would cost less). As this cost hasn’t been budgeted for the board agreed to look into incorporation and have actioned to do a risk analysis with the aim to incorporate by August. We will need to run a referendum to adopt the new constitution which we’ll run alongside the sabbatical elections, the process of which will be discussed by Senior Leadership Team.

The board ended with a presentation from Alice and Niall about the Transforming Student Experience. In this we saw an architect’s impression of what student central should look like come September 2017 which aims to collate everything into one place. 16 processes will be placed within a new student progress team based in library beginning of January 2017 including a new system for hand ins at Student Central. This should mean consistency across university especially for sensitive issues like PECs and with transparency of this process, it should be easier for us to hold the university to account.

The minutes of this meeting will be available for anyone to view after they are approved at the next Board of Trustees meeting. If you’d like to get more involved in our democratic processes, you can come to Student Exec at an Observer on the 6th February. If you have any questions about the Board of Trustees or Student Exec, please direct them to Adam Crawley– a.crawley@northumbria.ac.uk


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