The Governance Reform resolutions that will be voted on by delegates at the January 2022 OU Students Association have been approved by the Board of Trustees.
Delegates will have the option to vote to ‘approve’ or ‘do not approve’ for each of the 5 resolutions.
You can find out more about getting involved in campaigning for or against these changes here, or if you wish to submit a question, you can do so here.
Below, each resolution is set out along with an explanation of what the proposed change would mean in practice.
A. Replace the biennial Conference with an Annual General Meeting
|Students get to vote on Association business once every 2 years
||Students get to vote on Association business every year
|Maximum 501 students voting on Association business
||Unlimited number of students able to vote on Association business
|Quorum of 40% of registered delegates participating in voting
||Quorum of 50 non-elected or appointed students participating in voting
|75% majority required to pass resolutions to change Association articles
||66% majority required to pass resolutions to change Association articles
|Face-to-face event in Milton Keynes
||Online event accessible to all
|£200,000 spent on organising and hosting a face-to-face conference for a maximum of 501 students
||Cost savings to spend on more local and subject-focused events
This resolution would involve replacing the current biennial Conference (once every two years) with a fully online Annual General Meeting (AGM), which must be scheduled within 18 months of the previous meeting. The formal agenda will need to be in line with our duties under Company Law and Charity Law, together with the requirements of Student Unions under the Education Act 1994. The Board of Trustees and Student Leadership Team would be required to report to the AGM as they do at present. However, this change provides a more regular opportunity for student members to hold their leaders to account.
The AGM, like the biennial Conference it would replace, would continue to have a focus on a wider and more detailed programme of activities to engage, consult and involve students. Examples of possible highlights for the programme would include inviting high profile external speakers, OU guest speakers, and nonbinding policy debates on key issues affecting OU students that would serve to inform the Student Leadership Team.
In terms of quorum, we propose that we adopt the minimum level of 50 students which would not include any of the elected or appointed Student Leadership Team, Student Forum or Trustees. However, we would propose removing the cap on maximum attendance which is currently in place for Conference. This would open the AGM to all student members to attend and vote rather than the 500 who can currently attend Conferences. The threshold for making changes to the Association’s articles would require a two-thirds majority (66%) voting in favour of changes.
The duration of the AGM would be a half day at minimum. It is likely to be longer than this, with additional entertainment and engagement opportunities for attendees, but setting a minimum duration offers flexibility in our future approach.
There will be savings from the current Conference model which is expensive for a very small number of students who get to benefit. These savings could be redistributed into more regular geographic-based, and study discipline-based events, which would offer new ways of furthering the Association’s engagement with students.
B. Implement the recommended changes to the composition and appointment of the Board of Trustees.
|3 ex-officio Trustees (elected CEC members)
||4 ex-officio Trustees (elected CEC/Student Leadership Team)
|6 student Trustees (elected)
||4 student Trustees (appointed)
|3 lay (external) Trustees
||4 lay (external) Trustees
The number of ex-officio (elected student leader) Trustees on the Board will increase from 3 to 4, with the President, Deputy President, and Vice President for Finance and Administration remaining as members, and an ex-officio Trustee to be chosen from among the elected student leadership team.
There will be no directly elected student Trustees. These will be replaced by 4 appointed student Trustees. This will involve students applying for positions on the Board and will enable the relevant and appropriate skills to be recruited to support and contribute towards the Board of Trustees' purpose of strategic oversight of the Association.
The number of lay (external) Trustees will increase from 3 to 4.
C. Replace the Central Executive Committee with a new student leadership and representation structure featuring a Student Leadership Team and a Student Forum.
|Central Executive Committee Team of 19 elected student leaders
||Student Leadership Team of 8 elected student leaders plus the creation of Student Forum of 30-40 elected and appointed students to support Student Leadership Team
|Focus on internal operational arrangements
||Focus on student matters and policy
|No term limits for any elected student leaders
||Introduce maximum of two 2-year terms in one role, and three 2-year terms (if a change of role is included) before being required to take a break
|No mechanism for ensuring CEC are representative of student body
Student Forum to specifically ensure representation of our diverse student body
The Central Executive Committee (CEC – Current elected student leadership committee), will be replaced by a new Student Leadership Team to be composed of 6-8 elected officer roles to be supported by the creation of a Student Forum that will be made up of 30-40 student members and will act as a wider council of students providing a diverse array of perspectives.
All members of the Student Leadership Team would be elected to specific portfolios, with role descriptions which draw out the required skills profile to be able to undertake each of the remits.
All members of the Student Leadership Team would be elected by the Association’s membership for a two-year term. We agree with the report that there is no need to change the current status quo on paid and unpaid roles, meaning that the President and Deputy President would remain as the paid roles and the rest of the Student Leadership Team would be unpaid volunteers.
Term limits would apply, with no more than two consecutive two-year terms of office in any one role and no more than three consecutive terms in total before a break of at least two years. The paid roles would still have a two-year maximum for any individual. ‘Vice President’ titles will be replaced by ‘Officers’.
The focus of the Student Leadership Team will be on student matters and policy, rather than the current focus on the internal operational arrangements. Meetings of the Student Leadership Team should include a joint meeting with the Student Forum and be much more solution focused and dynamic to the live issues affecting students. The Student Leadership Team will design and implement a clear programme of work at the outset of each two-year term and monitor a rolling log of actions. The Student Leadership Team will lead on all student engagement with the Open University and the external world and will need to be strategic in outlook, focusing on the insights and feedback gleaned from students.
The Student Forum will have a balance of elected and appointed roles, but with more appointed than elected roles to reduce the electoral burden on the wider student body from the current number of elected roles and to open up roles to those students who are put off by the thought of standing for election.
The Student Forum will bring together a much more representative body of our students across demographics, type of study, discipline of study, geography and protected characteristics. Student Forum roles will have one-year terms of membership to allow for a constant churn of voices and perspectives with an option to extend to two years. The maximum term-limits for the Student Forum is linked to the term limit of the Student Leadership Team.
Certain members of the Student Forum will attend the Student Leadership Team meetings as non-voting members, e.g. Nations representatives
It will not be possible for a member of the Student Forum to be on the Student Leadership Team or the Board of Trustees.
D. Implement the recommendation of a new Scrutiny Panel to hold the Student Leadership Team to account.
|Central Executive Committee report once every two years to the biennial OU Students Association Conference
||Scrutiny Panel created to ensure regular scrutiny, ongoing accountability and reporting to the Board of Trustees
A Scrutiny Panel will be created to hold the Student Leadership Team to account. It will be made up of 6-8 members, ensuring it is either the same size or smaller than the Student Leadership Team
At least two members of the Scrutiny Panel will be drawn from the Student Forum with remaining membership composed of up to 3 other student members who hold no other roles in the Association who can be selected by fellow students as part of the AGM each year, 1 Lay Trustee (e.g. HR and culture skilled professional), and 1 Open University delegate to be nominated by PVC-Students team.
The terms for Scrutiny Panel membership will be one year, and term limits will be the same as the Student Leadership Team and Student Forum limits.
The Scrutiny Panel will report to Board of Trustees.
E. Implement a range of minor and consequential changes to the Articles
These changes are amendments required due to the changes to other areas, or to bring the document up to date. These include matters such as:
- Removing the reference to the Association ‘Limited’ throughout, catching up with the change made after incorporation was completed.
- Updated list of definitions, to remove some aspects and include the new items.
- Updated contents page for the same reason.
- Occasional typos corrected.
- Consequential wording changes (e.g. updated references swapped in, where terms such as CEC, Conference or External Trustee are no longer relevant and are therefore replaced with their proposed successors).
- More inclusive language
- Deleting Article 28, which is a duplication of Article 25.4.
- This, combined with the insertion of the Article on the Student Forum, triggers a re-numbering of the previous Article 27 which becomes Article 28.
- Updated Board of Trustees committee structure.
Proposed OU Students Association governance structure