Code of Practice on Students' Union Affairs
1. Status of this Code of Practice
1.1 This Code of Practice, as amended from time to time by the Court of Governors in consultation with the Students' Union, is the public and formal record of the Governors’ requirements in relation to their legal responsibilities under the Education Act 1994 (Clause 22(3)) in relation to the Students' Union.
1.2 The Governors of University of the Arts London recognise the important contribution made by the Students' Union (SU) and are supportive of its various activities, resulting in its key aim to be a permanent and integral part of student life at the University. In active support of this, the Governors are pleased to provide appropriate financial support to the Union to enable it to operate in an effective way and fulfil its aims through the services and activities it offers to all students.
1.3 The Students' Union has a full legal responsibility to conform in detail to all the requirements of this Code. If it fails to comply with this Code, the Complaints Procedure, its Constitution or any regulations or standing orders that apply to it, University of the Arts London reserves the right to withdraw funding from the Union and to require the repayment to University of the Arts London of any University funds that have been misapplied. The Code of Practice is included in Rules and Regulations for Students and made available to all students.
1.4 Revision of this Code will be at the discretion of the Court of Governors, from time to time, as they deem this to be appropriate. This Code forms part of an overarching Relationship Agreement between the Court of Governors and the Students Union.
2. Membership/Non-membership of the Students' Union (SU)
2.1 All enrolled students of University of the Arts London are automatically deemed to be full members of the Students' Union, unless they choose not to be. Hence, every enrolled student has the right not to be a member of the SU and therefore has the choice not to be represented by the Union.
2.2 University of the Arts London will publicise this option through its student joining procedures prior to enrolment.
2.3 The consequences of opting-out from membership of the SU are:
- Non-members are not permitted to vote in any Union election procedures or referenda
- Non-members are not permitted to stand in any elections for Union offices
- Non-members are not permitted to hold office in any Union Club or Society.
- Non-members shall not have the right to stand or nominate students for participation on University of the Arts London's Court of Governors and University Boards and Committees until and unless University of the Arts London ceases to recognise the Union as representative of its student body.
2.4 Students of University of the Arts London will, at the point of enrolment, be offered the opportunity to indicate their desire to opt-out of Union membership. A register of such students will be compiled and filed within University of the Arts London's Central Registry and shared with the Students’ Union.
3.Procedure for opt-out from Students' Union Membership
3.1 Under the terms of the Education Act 1994 (Clause 22(3)) in relation to Students' Unions, the Court of Governors of University of the Arts London, in line with its required Code of Practice, must ensure that appropriate arrangements are made for all enrolled students of the University to exercise their right to opt-out of student membership if they so decide.
3.2 In line with this requirement, the following procedure has been adopted to facilitate this option:
(i) All students of University of the Arts London will, at the point of enrolment, be offered the opportunity to decide whether they wish to opt for membership or non-membership of the Union by the simple process of ticking an appropriate box on the University's standard enrolment form. A register of such students will be compiled and filed within University of the Arts London's Central Registry.
(ii) The consequences of a decision to opt-out of Union membership are clearly presented in this Code of Practice.
(iii) Any students wishing to change their minds, subsequent to the enrolment process, may exercise their right by writing to the President of the Students' Union. The President will pass copies of such letters to University of the Arts London's University Secretary and Registrar who will include them in the Central Registry file.
4. Complaints Procedure
4.1 Any complaint by an enrolled student with regard to their dealings with the Union will be dealt with in accordance with the Union's published Complaints Procedure. Complaints will be directed in writing, in the first instance, to the President of the Union, or other appropriate office holder, who will then progress the complaint in line with the procedures laid down.
4.2 This is a procedure for problem solving and improvement in respect of Students' Union activities, services and facilities, including representation of the student body. This procedure is available for all students and groups of students at the University (whether Union members or not).
4.2.1 Status of procedure
This procedure operates alongside the grievance, discipline, complaints and other University of the Arts London procedures. It shall be the decision of the University Secretary and Registrar as to the appropriate procedure(s) for consideration of any particular issue. At this officer's discretion, this may involve either the parallel operation of more than one procedure or the precedence of one single procedure as an appropriate vehicle for the consideration of all aspects of a particular complaint.
Any student who is dissatisfied in his/her dealings with, or exclusion from, the activities, processes or facilities of the SU may take this up as follows:
A. Normal process
By putting his/her problem in writing to an appropriate office holder of the Students' Union. Students not able to identify an appropriate representative should contact the President's Office. A written response, which may (at the SU officer's discretion) include an invitation to an interview, shall be provided within two weeks during term time or four weeks otherwise.
B. Appeal process
(i) If a student is dissatisfied with, or unable to secure the progress of his/her complaint through the normal process, he/she shall put his/her views in writing to the Dean of Students (internal mail facilities may be used for this purpose and the envelope should be marked 'Formal Appeal Request'), with a copy to the Students' Union President.
(ii) After due consultation between University of the Arts London and the SU, the Dean of Students shall give a written response to the student within two weeks of receipt of the request. This response may be to invite the student to a meeting with the Dean. If it does not and the student so requires, then a meeting may be arranged by contacting the Dean's Office. A final written response following any meeting between the student and the Dean (or their representative) shall be provided within two weeks of the meeting.
C. Independent review
(i) On those rare occasions when the above processes have failed to respond adequately to the dissatisfaction of a student, he/she may formally request in writing to the University Secretary and Registrar an Independent Review of the case, giving his/her grounds for such request.
(ii) In such instances, the University Secretary and Registrar will obtain copies of relevant papers from all parties involved to date and will forward such papers as deemed relevant (including any papers from the complainant) to a person specifically appointed as the Independent Review Officer for the purposes of this stage of the procedure.
(iii) The Governing Body, on the recommendation of the University Secretary and Registrar, shall nominate up to four persons, each of whom may act as the Independent Review Officer according to availability. On initial nomination, and not more frequently than annually, the Students' Union may make representations regarding the nomination of the Governing Body. Nominated Review Officers may resign or be removed from office by the Governing Body at any time.
(iv) The Independent Review Officer has absolute discretion to determine whether a written response or a further meeting is appropriate. Official communication between the Independent Officer and all other parties shall be through the University Secretary and Registrar’s Office.
(v) In all cases, the student shall receive a written response to their case within four working weeks of any such request being received in the University Secretary and Registrar’s Office. This shall be copied to the Students' Union.
(vi) Unless the Court of Governors (or a duly authorised delegate) decides otherwise, the recommendations of the Independent Review Officer will be final.
D. Monitoring arrangements
The Students' Union President shall produce a termly summary report of complaints received, respecting the confidentiality of the parties involved. This report shall be considered by the Board of Trustees and, with such commentary as the Trustees may wish to provide, subsequently by the Court of Governors of University of the Arts London.
5. Responsibilities of the Union President and General Manager
The President of the Union, on behalf of the Trustee Board, is responsible for the financial management of the Union, for the observance of the Union Constitution as approved from time to time by the Court of Governors, for the Operation of the Union in a fair and democratic manner and for the observance of the Governors’ Code of Practice pursuant to the requirement of the Education Act 1994 (Clause 22(3)) in relation to Students’ Unions. The General Manager of the Union is responsible for the observance of any legal and statutory requirements in the general operation of the Union and of any other necessary requirements of the University of the Arts London.
6. Union Constitution
6.1 The Union shall have a written constitution approved by the Court of Governors. Any suggested or required changes to the Constitution shall be submitted to the Court of Governors for approval.
6.2 The Court will review the Constitution at its discretion as deemed appropriate, but this is to be at least every five years. The Court will, through its approval and review process, satisfy itself that:
(i) The Union’s Constitution provides for appointment to major Union offices to be by election in a secret ballot in which all members are entitled to vote.
(ii) Through the approval by the University Secretary and Registrar of the appointment of a suitable Returning Officer, Union elections are conducted fairly and properly, and that no person shall hold major Union office or paid elected Union office for more that two years in the Students’ Union.
7. Affiliation to external organisations
The Union will publish through its normal communication channels any decision made to affiliate to an external organisation. This will state the name of the organisation and detail any fees or donations paid to the organisation. The Executive Committee and Board of Trustees will review all affiliations to external organisations at least once per year and will publish an annual report giving details of all such affiliations (including any subscriptions, fees or donations paid since the last report). The list will be submitted for approval by the members annually, within one month of which a requisition may be made to the Union by five per cent or more of the members of the Union, regarding the question of continued affiliation to any external organisation. This will be decided upon by a secret ballot in which all members are entitled to vote. The procedure for conducting such a vote will follow that for referenda as outlined in the Elections Bye Law of the Constitution. The Union will publish annually, to all students, the procedure for such challenge to any affiliation.
8. Allocation of resources to Union clubs and societies
The procedure for allocation will be set out in a separate document, published annually by the Union and applied as a basis for budget proposals to University of the Arts London. This will be made freely available to all students on request to the President of the Students’ Union.
9. Freedom of Speech Code of Practice
The University has a Freedom of Speech Code which is also binding on members of staff, the Students Union and all students. The University requires all members of staff and students of the University to tolerate and protect the expression of opinions within the law whether or not these opinions are repugnant to them. The Code covers the use of University premises for meetings, gatherings and activities. Full details of the University’s Code, its requirements, and relevant legislation are available on the University’s web pages.
10. Financial Affairs of the Students’ Union
10.1 Financial Control of the Students’ Union
10.1.1 The President of the Union will present annually to the Court of Governors the Union’s proposed budget for the following financial year. This will fully observe all the requirements of the Union’s financial orders contained in a separate Union document appended to the constitution and its schedules. The Court of Governors will, on the basis of the budget presented, and the University of the Arts London’s overall financial position, and such other factors as it considers relevant, make a decision regarding the level of funding to be allocated to the Union. Any changes to the financial standing orders requested by the Union will not be implemented without agreement of the University Secretary and Registrar who may endorse and record such changes, or withhold agreement and seek a judgement from the Court of Governors as he/she may consider appropriate.
10.1.2 The General Manager will be required to alert the University Secretary and Registrar of any deviance from the Union’s financial standing orders of significant variation from the approved budget and will allow the University Secretary and Registrar access to such financial and other records of the Union as he/she may request. University of the Arts London’s auditors will have access to such financial and other records of the Union as they may request.
10.1.3 The accounts of the Union will be published annually, on or before 31 December in each year. A copy of the accounts may be obtained by any member of the Students’ Union on written application to the President of the Union. The accounts of the Union must list any external organisation to which the Union has made donations in the period to which the accounts relate, together with details of these donations. The accounts will also record any affiliations and fees or donations paid by the Union to any such external organisations.
10.2 Proper conduct of affairs
10.2.1 The Students’ Union is responsible for ensuring that funds provided to it by University of the Arts London are used only in accordance with the Education Act 1994, this Code and any other statutory requirements or other conditions that University of the Arts London may from time to time prescribe.
10.2.2 The Union shall designate, subject to acceptance by University of the Arts London, an officer or professional advisor to the Union, who is required to satisfy University of the Arts London that all such conditions are complied with. This designated person has the responsibility of advising the Union if, at any time, any action or policy under consideration by the Union appears to the designated person to be incompatible with the terms of this Code. Should the Union decide nevertheless to proceed, the designated person is required to inform the University in writing.
10.2.3 The Students’ Union is required to:
(i) Keep accounts and accounting records in accordance with normal professional accounting principles.
(ii) Maintain a sound system of internal financial management and control.
(iii) Plan and conduct its financial affairs so as to ensure that its total income is at least sufficient, taking one year with another, to meet its total expenditure and that its financial solvency is maintained.
(iv) Obtain the prior written consent of University of the Arts London to any significant transaction (as may be determined by University of the Arts London from time to time) involving land, buildings or equipment.
(v) Obtain the prior written consent of University of the Arts London to the borrowing of any money.
(vi) Not give any guarantee or indemnities incurring contingent liabilities other than in the normal course of business.
(vii) Maintain adequate insurance cover.
10.3 Approval of Budgets
The Students’ Union is required to:
(i) Prepare budgets for the following financial year at a reasonable date as necessary to meet requirements.
(ii) Obtain the approval of the Trustees to such budgets and to submit them to the University at a date set by the University, which shall be at least two months before the commencement of the financial year.
10.4 Monitoring of Expenditure
The Students’ Union is required to:
(i) Prepare audited annual accounts in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles within four months of the end of the financial year.
(ii) Obtain the approval of the Trustees and AGM to such accounts, make them available to all students and to submit them to University of the Arts London within five months of the end of the financial year.
(iii) Provide periodic reports of income and expenditure against budget for consideration by the Trustees or Executive of the University of the Arts London when appropriate.
(iv) Include, within its annual accounts and financial reports, a list of the external organisations to which it has made donations in the periods to which such accounts or reports relate, and details of such donations.
(v) Make available the books and accounting records of the Union to the University and/or its auditors for inspection on request. Failure to comply with this Memorandum of Practice or any statutory requirements may require the repayment in whole or in part of funds paid by University of the Arts London to the Union, together with interest in respect of any period during which a sum due to the University under this or any other condition remains unpaid.