In 2014/15, the Students’ Union President commissioned a “Governance Review” to look at our democratic structures and processes and ensure that we are still relevant to our members – you! We surveyed students in 2015 on how they want to be represented and the majority of respondents told us that they want to be represented by academic area. Students also told us that they want to be more involved in the Union’s decision making-processes and make change. In response to this, we held a first referendum in December. You can find out more about the changes we are proposing here and hear from our Student Officers what the next steps are. We are committed to continue the review of of our governance structures and democratic processes in the next academic year.
'At the start of my second term as President, I ordered a governance review of Hull University Union. Whilst this may sound really boring, it’s actually all about looking at where decisions are made, who makes them and how HUU can best represent it’s members.
This hasn’t happened in a long time, and what this has meant are that our democratic structures – Union Council, our zones – aren’t really fit for purpose anymore.
So, what we wanted to do was actually ask students how they wanted to be represented.
From this, we picked out 10 key principles that we think our members want us to adhere to, when creating a new democratic system.
There are four here, as infographics, and attached are the other 6.
We plan on using the things our members have told us – via survey, focus groups and feedback – to create a new democratic model, which will hopefully mean that students will be even more powerful in making their voices heard.
HUU 2014/15 President,
Taken from: Strategic Planning 2014: Students’ Motivations, Experiences and Priorities, a Report from Alterline, April 2014
We started with the basic ideas that HUU should be governed on the basis of what students want. Looking at the findings of the report, we came up with these four key principles:
Students should feel that they can easily affect HUU.
Students should be able to understand HUU.
All representatives should be credible.
HUU should prioritise outputs over process, with particular focus on effectively representing the views of students to the university and providing experience-enhancing, accessible extra-curricular activities.
Taken from: The HUU Governance Survey, January 2015
Representatives should consult with students before making a decision.
The priority for representation should be education and academic groupings.
Decisions should (where possible) be made by an online poll or vote.
Students should identify issues and decide which solutions to implement. Occasionally students should be involved in analysing different solutions.
Representative or voluntary roles should be selected by interview or random selection over election.
The decision making process should prioritise the quality of the outcome. After that, accessibility, transparency and clarity should be the priority. After that, cost and speed should be the priority.
Decision making should be undertaken by: campus wide votes; surveys and questionnaires; and large, accessible meetings.
Representative Officers should be elected by cross-campus ballot.
Students want to bring issues they care about to staff. If staff are unavailable, a body of elected students should hear issues from students.
Students have no preference for either adversarial debate or deliberative discussion.
From The HUU Governances Survey:
(Some of the results are scored as a percentage of the students who filed out the survey. Others are given a positive or negative score between +1 and -1).
77.3% of students would rather a representative consulted with them before making a decision.
Students would rather be represented the basis of their academic definition (course, department, faculty, year, type).
The average score for non-academic representation was -0.2, for academic representation it was +0.3. There was some demographic variance, i.e. more women (-0.04) agree that they would like to be represented on the basis of their gender than men (-0.31). The most preferred basis for representation was course, the least preferred was sexuality.
Students would prefer that decisions were made by an online poll or vote. Only 3.6% wanted elected representatives to decide.
Over 50% of students said that they would take part in ‘identifying issues to be addresses by the union’ and/or ‘deciding which solution to implement’. Over a third of students said that they would take part in ‘analysing different solutions to these issues’. However only 17% of students said they would be interested in ‘implementing the decision’. 12.5% of students were not interested in taking part in any stage of the decision making process.
Students would rather be interviewed than elected or randomly selected. Students scored interviews (by students or staff) +0.12, random selection +0.07, and elections (limited or cross-campus) -0.06.
The most important factors in decision making is the quality of the outcome (+0.65). Accessibility and clarity/transparency are also important (+0.34, +0.32). Cost and speed were less important but still received a positive score (+0.14).
When asked to model their own decision-making structure, student clearly favoured three methods. Campus wide ballots where everyone gets a vote (65.2%), surveys and questionnaires (55.6%), big meetings open to all students (46.7%).
Students would prefer representative officers be elected by cross-campus ballot (63.6%).
Students said they find it easiest to take issues they care about to ‘an appointed member of staff’ (34.5%) and ‘a body of elected students’ (30.32%).
Students were split between ‘discussions to reach a consensus’ (40.7%) and ‘debates to reach a majority vote’ (43.2%).
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