News archive 2005
Radical shake up in Students' Union structure16 Aug 2005, PR 58/05
King's College London Students' Union (KCLSU) has undergone a root and branch review of its governance systems to improve the support it offers its students. KCLSU is the first students' union in the country to take this major step and its new structure will provide a model for other UK universities.
The new governance system will:
• establish systems that reflect modern higher education
• ensure student involvement is efficient and relevant
• examine the role and responsibilities of the trustees
• ensure decision making is accountable and transparent
• be fully prepared for any possible future crises of finance, membership or democracy
• keep in line with other public sector organisations who are reviewing their systems
‘A consultant with experience of students' unions, John Windle, and a firm of solicitors, Bates Wells & Braithwaite (BWB) were commissioned to produce a report into the current state of affairs,' explained Rajesh Joshi, KCLSU Union Chair.
After reviewing relevant documents and consulting with students and staff, they concluded that:
• KCLSU's governing systems were not relevant to a modern higher education environment
• there was limited opportunity for students to be involved on anything but a superficial level
• the size, nature and composition of the trustee board should change
• there was little real accountability and transparency of decisions taken by the trustees
• KCLSU currently had a strong financial position but needed to ensure that its governance systems were robust to cope with potential future crises
Further consultation was conducted with students before a model was presented to the Student Representative and College Councils, both of whom approved it.
‘The new system will further promote student involvement, empowering them to realise their aspirations outside of the classroom or laboratory without the bureaucracy that has been the hallmark of students' unions for too long,' said Rajesh Joshi.
The main aspects of this model are:
• KCLSU will become a company limited by guarantee
• a trustee board made up of four full-time students, four part-time and four non-students
• greater flexibility for standing committees
• the introduction of scrutiny committees and community forums
• increased use of technology, such as e-voting
Memorandum and articles of the company are currently being drawn up and will be presented to students and the College in the new term for approval.
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's College London is one of the two oldest and largest colleges of the University of London with over 13,800 undergraduate students and nearly 5,700 postgraduates in ten schools of study. It is a member of the Russell Group: a coalition of the UK's major research-based universities. The College has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level, and it has recently received an excellent result in its audit by the Quality Assurance Agency. King's is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings, with income from grants and contracts of £100 million, and has an annual turnover of more than £348 million. In 2004 the College was once again awarded an AA- financial credit rating from Standard & Poor's.
King's College London Students' Union (KCLSU)
KCLSU's purpose as the Students' Union is to provide representation, encourage participation and offer personal development opportunities to its 19,500 members, through which it aims to achieve its mission of Student Life Support. It is a student-led, student-focussed organisation with the principles of representation, democracy and informed campaigning at its very heart. It actively listens to its members and their contribution guides and shapes its policies.
Peter Robertson, General Manager, KCLSU
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