Students' Union Strategy
“To enrich students’ lives, the community in which they live and the University of Surrey by creating the changes they want and to enable them to achieve their ambitions.”
Towards 2024. A Union for all of your student life
“The 2024 Experience” mandated the Union to remodel its approach to student representation, and introduced our Zones. It is important to remember these are not simple renames of previous roles. Our Zones allow for more students than ever before to act on what is passionate to them, and give more opportunity for a wider range of voices to be heard.
Now, with this strategy, we take ourselves further along the road of the 2024 Union, by developing the Zone work and further deepening our reach, and impact.
What our members want...
For our members, everything the Union does should advance our mission to enrich students’ lives, the community in which they live and the University of Surrey by creating the changes they want and to enable them to achieve their ambitions.
It is not possible to be member led, democratic and representative if you do not know what your members want and think.
Key Aim: The Union will be proactive in learning what our members want.
By talking more to our members, giving them the opportunity to talk to us – easier and quicker, and doing quality research without the burden of endless lengthy surveys, the sabbaticals, and Union executive will have a closer and more relevant understanding of what our students think, and what is important to them.
To create change, and enrich the lives of our members, we must react to what we know. Although it is important to acknowledge that we are constrained by our charitable objectives. Student leaders are not just elected to deliver on election promises, but to react to the voice of students.
Key Aim: Student leaders will be supported to take action in response to the student voice.
With a solid foundation of student opinion to support elected student officers in their decision making, it is also vital that student officers do not simply become messengers, reporting through committee what the latest survey results are. The diversity of ideas comes from the annual election process and the resultant manifestos. The representative democracy of the Students’ Union will be supported by enabling elected officers, not only to develop their election manifestos, but to deliver on them.
Key aim: Elected student officers will be supported to deliver on key manifesto pledges.
Finally, we will not just listen silently to our membership, but will inform them of what their Union has been doing in their name, and what it continues to do following what they have told us. By hearing about the impact their voice has made, and how they have been listened to, the credibility of the Union will be enhanced and continue a virtuous circle of student engagement.
Key aim: Students will be well informed on the work of the Union and their representatives.
The way the Students’ Union collectively operates is important, for the credibility of the organisation and the relationships that exist with external stakeholders as well as with our members. Our values will be rooted in what we do, elected officers, signatories, staff, and all active members will be expected to know what is expected of them in the living realisation of our values.
Key aim: Students will recognise the Union as an organisation that is true to their values.
The Union will be able to provide a variety of support to students which is clear to find or be able to signpost them in the right direction. The organisation should enable students to be confident with the ability to express themselves without judgment. The Union should be a challenging friend and not a substitute parent.
It is vital the Students’ Union remains up to date with technology and regularly reviews its communication provisions. The organisation will use creative methods of having a two way conversation with students.
The democratic balance should ensure students are given the opportunity to debate and make informed decisions as a whole student body.
Whilst innovation is important, in order to be effective it is vital people understand how to use new tools. The benefits of innovation need to be communicated. We will balance what students needed against what benefits would be gained from innovation.
The Union should act in an ethical way that shows its accountability to students. Students and stakeholders must be confident that the Union is operating to the highest standards expected of a registered charity, and a membership organisation.
Our Definition of Success
We must do what we do well, with as many students engaged as possible, and make a real difference – not just exist for the sake of existing. Our measurements for success should not be too cumbersome, however they must be appropriate and achievable.
We will measure our success in three key areas:
The more students we can engage, who have a positive experience with their engagement, the greater our impact.
A powerful, independent, and representative Students’ Union will be an important asset for any successful University in the next decade. The best institutions will be those who can react to, and work with an engaged student body – supported by a world class Students’ Union. This strategy takes the University of Surrey closer to our vision of being a leading UK Students’ Union, within a world class University.