What is the impact of students’ unions on students, institutions and wider society?
The profound changes to the education landscape were built on a framing of students as the sole beneficiaries of the education they consume. However, in reality, students and their Universities, Colleges and Students’ Unions produce multiple, valuable benefits for society at large.
Whether they’re volunteering to teach the IT skills to the elderly, culturally enriching the community through dance or theatre performances or campaigning to resist the closure of local NHS provision, students have a hugely valuable impact on the world around them that we have traditionally struggled to articulate…until now.
NUS has worked with the think do tank New Economics Foundation to develop a practical guide to help Students’ Unions understand and articulate their impact to their students, institution and wider society.
What student communities exist in our memberships? What democratic innovations do we need to empower them?
Our traditional methods for engaging students are rigid and outdated. Rather than understanding how students understand themselves, interact with others, create affinities and shared interests we expect them to fit around our conceptions of who they are and how they should make decisions. Instead we want to understand and empower these communities of students to engage with their union and create the change they want to see.
Therefore, a strategic priority for the Union Development zone this year will see us focusing on, not only the different types of student communities that exist within the education sector, but the different types of democratic innovation that will engage these students in our students’ unions.
How can we encourage students to become involved in the democracy of their students’ unions in a way which empowers and inspires, therefore giving more of a voice and a mandate to our policies and politics?