Have your say on the OU Students Association Governance Reforms

Governance reforms will help us to live the Association’s values, increase accountability and transparency, and make the Association more accessible

2022 marks the Open University Students Association’s 50th year. And having worked hard to represent OU students for the last 50 years, we want to ensure the Association is fit for purpose to deliver positive student experiences for our members and future members for the next 50 years.

In early 2021, the Open University Students Association’s Board of Trustees commissioned an external review of its governance, led by Almond Tree Strategic Consulting.

During the review, representatives from Almond Tree spoke to a broad range of people with knowledge of the Students Association, including elected student leaders, trustees, Honorary Lifetime Members, volunteers and staff. In addition to these research interviews, they observed multiple governance meetings, including our CEC weekends and Board of Trustees to get a full picture of the way we govern ourselves and how we might improve our practices to be in a better position to deliver our organisational objectives.

There are four major strands of reforms outlined by the report from the Governance Review:

✓ Behaviour Governance; 

✓ Student Leadership and Representation; 

✓ Board of Trustees; and 

✓ Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Having considered the report the Board believes that making the recommended changes is incredibly important because our mission is to make a positive difference for all OU students. To do this we need to ensure that we are:

✓ living the Association’s values

✓ increasing accountability and transparency within our governance structures

✓ striving to make the Association more accessible for our members

Have your say

As the Governance Review report recommends some significant changes, we want to hear from our members about how we should take forward these recommendations, particularly in relation to student leadership and representation and the idea of an AGM, and how we can best create an OU Students Association that delivers for all OU students.

We will therefore be carrying out a wide-ranging consultation between 23 August – 11 September 2021 where we hope to hear from student members past and present, from longstanding volunteers and those who have not previously engaged with us, and especially from those who feel that the OU Students Association could be doing more to represent their views. There will be a number of ways in which you can contribute.

  • On 23 August, an online survey will launch for two weeks. Participants will be entered into a prize draw to win one of 30 shopping vouchers worth £50 or £25.
  • From 6 September we will be running a week-long series of focus groups with specific groups of students that we want to hear from.
  • The Open University’s office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor-Students will also be supporting our consultation by gathering perspectives from the Student Consultation Panel.
  • Additionally, if you would like to email any comments directly to the Association for our consideration, please send them to oustudents-insights@open.ac.uk.

So please look out on our website and across our social media platforms for the links to the survey and to sign up to focus groups, and if you want to support our efforts, you can help by sharing the links with your fellow OU students as well. We want to engage with as many students as possible on these changes.

This marks a point in the Association’s history where we have a real opportunity to make important changes that improve our ability to connect with and represent our members, a chance to make hugely positive changes to our culture and reach, and a time to be bold in re-thinking and re-designing the Association as we enter our 50th year.

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Sarah P Jones

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