Rita Walters, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Leadership Foundation shares the collective insights from previous participants of the Student as Governor Conference over the years, and their top 5 tips for their successors.
This will give you a greater awareness of how you can make changes or influence the board in your role and help you prioritise your goals as a governor. What most student governors need to understand is what are the role and responsibilities of a governor, and how the governing body makes decisions. It is worth remembering that the all governors have collective responsibility for any decision made by the governing body, so don’t think of yourself as a second-class citizen. Most student governors will receive information about their role in an induction pack. However, if you haven’t received the information you need, details of the governance structure can often be found on your university’s website. It is usually found on the ‘about us’ page.
It’s important to be an informed trustee so get as prepared as you possibly can before the meeting, including reading through the board papers carefully, learning about your fellow board members, and getting an understanding on what is going on at your university. It is worth identifying items on the agenda you want to comment on, and thinking about how best to contribute to any discussion.
Making change happen at any level or organisation is a challenge. This is an opportunity to develop the trust and confidence of other board members in you and, subsequently, support your views on the matters you raise. If you do this then your views are more likely to have greater weight in board meetings.
Your role of a governor includes ensuring that the student perspective is taken into account when key decisions are made so it is crucial that your voice is heard. It is important to balance the challenge and support you give the university’s executive team. Do not be afraid to offer your views and the student perspective. Most governing bodies will want to hear from its student governors, and if they have confidence in them, will pay close attention to what they say.
Higher education is in the midst of some of the most radical changes the sector has ever faced and it is important to keep updated on the wider context Times Higher Education, WonkHE, MediaFHE and the Guardian (especially on Tuesdays) are excellent sources of all news relating to higher education in the UK and across the world. Most offer a weekly digest with all the top stories for the week which will help you become well-informed and able to contribute to the development of board decisions and the policy of the university.
Rita Walters is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Leadership Foundation. She is the marketing lead for the Student as Governor Conference 2017 and a specialist in social media management. Her work includes spreading awareness on the Leadership Foundation’s latest research and leadership development opportunities for new and aspiring higher education leaders.
If you would like to develop your knowledge about being an effective student governor sign up to the Student as Governor Conference 2017 taking place on Wednesday 20 September 2017 at Woburn House Conference Centre in London. Click here to find out more.
To find out more about our work on governance please visit www.lfhe.ac.uk/governance