Glossary

1994 Education Act An Act of Parliament which is legally binding. Section 22 specifically addresses the relationship between students' unions and education institutions
Accountability To be accountable is to be answerable to others. To be able to justify the decisions that are made if asked to do so
Activity The task/the action
Ancillary benefits A by-product of something which is of greater value to the students' union
Anti-discriminatory Practice Behaviour that pro-actively seeks to prevent discrimination occurring on the grounds of race, gender, sexuality, age or disability or any other protected characteristic
Assets Items of value owned by the students' union
Audit The independent process of checking to ensure that correct process have been followed by others
Board of Trustees The ‘Board' is the collective term for the Trustees of a students' union. Trustees acting together as a ‘Board’ are the people who are ultimately legally responsible for the governance of the students' union.
Board renewal New Trustees joining the Board that are able to bring a fresh perspective and new ideas
Chair of the Board The Trustee who take the lead in ensuring that Board functions effectively and efficiently
Chair's Action A decision made by the Chair, on behalf of the Board, outside of the usual delegated authority
Charitable Objects ‘Charitable Objects' is the term that the 'Charity Commission' uses to describe and identify the purpose for which the charity has been set up. A charity’s objects must be exclusively for the furtherance of the organisations 'charitable purpose'. They are usually set out in a single clause or paragraph of the students' union’s governing document.
Charitable Purpose There are a number of Charitable Purposes prescribed by the Charity Commission. The one which is most relevant to students' unions is 'the advancement of education'. All activities that a charity undertakes must be for the furtherance of its ‘Charitable Purpose’.
Code of Conduct Rules which set out how a group of people are expected to behave
Commercial Activities that involve trading. Buying and selling goods and/or services to generate income
Company Director Under Company Law, those people responsible for the Students' Union. This only applies to students' unions that are incorporated. Invariably the Company Directors will also be the Trustees.
Conflicts of interest Something that might influence a person and prevent them from acting impartially or making decisions purely for the benefit of the students' union
Cross-Campus Ballots A term used in the 1994 Education Act which requires HE and FE Institutions to ensure that students, based on every university and/or college campus, have the opportunity to vote in the students' union elections
Delegation of Authority Formally allowing other people to make specified decisions on behalf of the Board within an agreed framework
Democracy Decision making power is vested in the students' union membership and exercised directly by them or by their elected representatives under a free electoral system and policy making process.
Diversity Diversity means difference and is about recognising, respecting and embracing the differences between people and their experiences. It is about moving beyond tolerance to valuing and celebrating individual differences.
Eligibility criteria Conditions that have to be met in order to qualify
Employment status Employment status refers to whether or not a person has a paid job and the associated terms and conditions
Equality Equality creates a fair and inclusive society, through challenging prejudice and discrimination, and ensures individuals or groups are treated fairly and have equal access to opportunities.
Financial Performance Measure of how well the students' union is managing its money.
Further Education Institution Providers of post compulsory education for adult learners
Governance "the systems and processes concerned with ensuring the overall direction, effectiveness, supervision and accountability of an organisation" (Governance of Public and Non-profit Organisation: what boards do? Cornforth, CJ (ed) - Routledge 2003)
Governing documents The written guidance that acts as a kind of rule book that the students' union must adhere to. The most major of these is known as the Constitution, other governing documents such as the students' union 'Bylaws' supplement the Constitution and provide a greater level of detail.
Grant Conditions Terms that must be upheld in order to receive funding. For example a grant condition might stipulate that funding should be spent on a particular piece of project work or that it should be used within a set time period.
Higher Education Institution A university or college that delivers bachelor’s degree and post-graduate level qualifications
Higher-level impact A cumulative impact that is the result of a number of outputs
Human Resources The people who work for the students' unions are collectively the students’ unions 'human resources'
Impact Change that has been brought about as a result of the work that the students' union has undertaken. The social, environmental and/or economic value created as a result of the outcomes achieved
Induction Process of providing support and training to enable somebody to acclimatise to their new working environment. To help them to understand what their role entails, how the students’ union operates and the policies and procedures that they need to follow.
Inside track A quicker or easier route that would result in an unfair advantage
Job Description A document that outlines what a person's job entails including details of their key responsibilities.
Key Stakeholders The closest or most important stakeholders
Lay Trustee A person who is recruited to serve as a Trustee on the Board because of their specialist knowledge, experience or expertise. Sometimes known as an 'External Trustee'
Legal Compliance Working within the Law of the land
Legal Requirement Something that the Law states you must do. You cannot choose not to do this without breaking the law.
Majority 50% or more
Membership The membership will be defined in the students' union’s governing document. The membership is invariably the students' that are enrolled at the University or College that is attached to the students' union. Students are automatically members of their students’ unions unless they decide to opt out.
Minority Less than 50%
Mission Written declaration of a students' unions core purpose and focus. The mission outlines what the students’ unions will do in order to work towards achieving their vision
Nolan Principles “The Seven Principles of Public Life” devised by Lord Nolan, which include Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty, Leadership
Nominations Committee Nominations Committees are set up to focus on work that relates to the election processes within a students' union
Operational plan A document that sets out the work that the students' union intends to undertake within a particular period of time, it should demonstrate how the day-to-day work of the students union, will help the organisation to achieve its longer term Strategic Plan.
Operations Day-to-day work undertaken by the students' union
Organisational Performance How well the students' union is achieving against its operational and strategic plan
Outcome The result or change caused by an output
Output The direct and tangible products from an activity
Oversight Maintaining a high level view of what's happening within the students' union
Performance Management The process of setting out clear expectations as to what a person needs to achieve and monitoring their progress against agreed targets.
Person Specification A document that outlines the experience, skills, attributes and attitudes that are required in order to undertake a particular role.
Policy Written guidelines which sets out the official position that a students' union has taken on a particular issue. Once a policy has been set, then the students' union must work in line with its direction, until it expires or is formally changed.
Private Benefits Personal gain of financial value as a result of their involvement with the students’ union
Procedures Step by step process of how something should be done. A procedure will often accompany a policy and will set out how the policy should be applied in practice
Professional Development Improving a person’s ability to undertake their current job and supporting them to gain skills that will help their future career prospects.
Quality Standards A set of specific, concise statements that act as markers of agreed good practice. Quality standards are often accompanied with a kite mark that is awarded to signify achievement in accordance with the standards.
Quorum The specified number of Trustees that are required to be present in order for decision making to take place
Removal of a Trustee Discontinuing a person's role as a member of the Board. Taking away a person’s responsibility for the governance of the students’ union and their right to partake in Board decision making.
Remuneration Payment given to employees in return for their work
Return on investment The benefits that are recouped as a result of providing the students' union with resources such as time or money
Returning Officer The person who is responsible for overseeing the election process and ensuring that it is fair
Risk Management The process of actively identifying risks and taking steps to try to mitigate them
Risk Register Log of identified risks and taking steps to mitigate them
Sabbatical Officers Students' that are elected annually by their student membership to lead the students' union
Selection Process An agreed way of finding the right candidate for a particular job, it might include an application form, short-listing and an interview. Candidates must be given equal opportunity to apply and the process must be fair.
Senior Staff Member A generic term for Chief Executive Officer, General Manager or whomsoever is the person employed to lead the staff employed by the students’ union.
Servicing the Board Support provided to the Board to help it to function effectively and efficiently.
Soft impacts Impacts that cannot be measured empirically or that are less tangible
Staff Career staff, elected officers, student staff, volunteer staff
Stakeholders People who have a vested interest in the work of the students' union, for example the student members, employed staff and the university or college attached to the students’ union.
Strategic Taking a long term view and considering the big picture.
Strategic Direction A course of action that leads to the achievement of the students' union strategy
Succession Management The provision for the development, replacement and strategic application of key people in the students' union. Taking a proactive approach to ensuring continuing leadership by cultivating talent from within the organization through planned development activities.
Succession Planning Thinking ahead and ensuring the organisation is prepared for the departure of senior people within the organisation including Trustees and senior managers.
Supervision To oversee the work of another and to provide support and guidance where required.
Third Sector A term used to describe organisations which are not part of the state or privately owned. It includes charities, voluntary sector organisations and community groups. Students' unions are part of the Third Sector.
Trustee A person who is a member of the 'Board' and is responsible for working together with the other Board members to collectively govern the students' union.
Undue risk Something that it likely to cause significant harm, judged to outweigh the potential benefits.
Values Shared principles that have overarching importance to the students' union and their members. They should inform decision making throughout the organisation and should be embedded in the students’ union’s strategic plan.
Vice Chair The Trustee that takes responsibility for providing support to the Chair of the Board and deputises for the Chair in their absence.
Vision A short statement which is aspirational and describes what the students' union is ultimately striving to achieve.