& Annual Accounts
The University of Surrey Students' Union is a registered charity as well as a limited company, and a Union. This means that the Union is regulated by the Charities Commission as part of the charities act, Companies House as part of the Companies Act, and the University of Surrey as part of the Education Act. All three acts and regulators have differing regulatory frameworks and therefore the governing documents as well as the annual accounts are constructed to satisfy all three. If you are a fan of red tape, then you have come to the right place.
The Union is governed by three main documents.
- The Core Constitution
This is also known as the 'Memorandum and Articles' and is the main governing document for the Students' Union which outlines how the Union is governed overall. In this document you will find the objects of the Union (which is why the Union exists, AND the justification for being a charity) as well as the powers of the Union. The Union cannot operate beyond these powers - this is known as Ultra Vires (Latin for 'beyond ones powers'). This document is rarely altered, having only been amended once since being created (to clarify the employment status of sabbatical officers). To amend this document the consent of the AMM is the required, as well as the permission of the University of Surrey Council.
- The Byelaws
These accompany the Core Constitution and are designed to be the 'instruction manual' for how things are done. They are far more user friendly than the core constitution and are designed to be as accesible as possible. Some byelaws only exist because of legislation, and they are marked with an asterisk - along with byelaws that only exist because of clauses in the core constitution. These byelaws can't be changed - but the rest can. The byelaws also outline the committee structure for the Union. The byelaws now include the Code of Practice, this is the requirements that we must fulfil from the University of Surrey as part of the Education Act. The byelaws are revised annually by the board of trustees.
- The Memorandum of Understanding.
The Union is legally independant from the University. This means the University cannot tell the Students' Union what to do, say, or think apart from the items listed in the code of practice. However, since the University fully funds the Union, it is unlikely that any responsible institution would not hand over so much money without some strings attached - this is where the Memorandum of Understanding comes in. The Union must comply with this, in order to receive the annual subvention. It is not intended (and cannot) curtail or restrict any policy or political activity, but is designed to have a measured influence on the management and good order of the Union. Due to the good relations we enjoy with the University, this is very rarely ever referred to.
Each year, like every other organisation, the Union produces a set of Annual Accounts. These are formatted in the Charities SORP. This format makes the accounts particulary hard to understand when you are used to looking at the management accounts, however they are designed to make it easier to compare Charity A to Charity B - so every charity musy put their accounts in the same format for this purpose. If you really want to compare our financial performance with that of the RSPB, now you can. Every now and again, the SORP changes, so the accounts may not be comparable year to year. If you look at the charity accounts on the commission website they convert the figures to whizzy graphs which make even less sense. The devil is in the detail, and to get a true picture you are advised to read the 'Notes to the Accounts' which explain what makes up the numbers.
You can also find previous copies of AMM agendas on this site.