NUS would like to acknowledge the contributions of Professor Rachel Brooks at the University of Surrey, the principal author of this report and Helen Goreham at Leadership Foundation for Higher Education for her guidance throughout.
This report offers us a timely opportunity to reflect on the changing perception of the student movement; what we’re here to do and who make up our leadership. It’s a conversation that’s been going on at the periphery and now needs to take centre stage. This report, by its very nature, is broad as it deals with people’s perceptions and motivations, however, it is nonetheless interesting to confirm much of what we already know and to assess it against some of the academic literature. Working with the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and the University of Surrey, this project is an example of a strong partnership where everyone plays an important role, not least those who took part in the research.
Specifically, the report highlights some interesting points about power. Who has power? How is power exercised? How do different power bases interact within institutions? These are all important questions which I’m really glad the report was able to bring to the fore. People want to become elected leaders for honorable reasons more often than not, it is our responsibility that we empower them to make the change that they are elected to achieve. What students’ unions are here to do and the leaders that are elected within them are key topics of conversation as we enter the 20th anniversary of the Education Act 1994. Our work around women in leadership is just the first stage of a broader ambition of mine to diversify our union’s leadership. This report provides a useful context from which this important debate can now begin.
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