Students and College agree ‘groundbreaking’ funding package

Posted on 11/04/2014 by

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Deal gives students greater influence in decision-making at Edinburgh College  

ECSAs

Edinburgh College Students’ Association (ECSA) will break new ground for the further education sector in Scotland with the best funding package of its kind, under a new agreement with the college.

ECSA – which was recently named the College Students’ Association of the Year at the National Union of Students (NUS) Awards 2014 – has signed a partnership agreement with the college that will ensure it has more influence on decision making and strengthen its ability to develop and meet students’ needs.

The college is providing a new funding package for ECSA, which is the biggest for a Scottish college students’ association and will allow the association to grow sustainably. The funding will ensure ECSA’s long-term employment of a permanent manager, a professional full-time position that provides continuity and support for the elected fixed-term sabbatical officers. ECSA is the first college students’ association in Scotland to employ a permanent manager.

ECSA president Kelly Parry said: “This agreement with the college gives us the opportunity to make sure we get the best for our students. We’ve already grown in size and influence over the last two years and I am proud of everyone who has contributed to getting the organisation where it is today. The college has shown great faith in ECSA, even when we’ve held opposing views, and our partnership approach is something that I hope will be adopted across the sector.”

“We’re absolutely delighted to win the NUS award. It’s the result of the hard work of so many people – students, student officers and staff – and it’s proof that college student associations can not only work but, given the right support, thrive.”

Under the new agreement, ECSA will have a stronger voice at all decision-making levels of the college. It already has a prominent role in key college decisions and is, for example, already being consulted formally about the development of the college’s regional outcome agreement. This sets out the targets the college aims to deliver in return for its funding from the Scottish Funding Council. The college has also just appointed a second student member to its Board of Management, increasing students’ influence at the highest decision-making level.

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Edinburgh College chair Ian McKay (pictured above) said: “We’re immensely proud of ECSA and this new agreement demonstrates not just our faith in them but our wish to learn from them. They’ve proven to be tireless and effective advocates for our students and we’re supporting them to continue growing and developing their distinctive voice. The Board and college management need to have a robust, healthy relationship with our students’ association where views can be aired frankly on both sides. ECSA’s willingness to confer and consult with us – and strength of character to disagree with us – is both a tribute to their maturity and expertise and the bedrock for a healthy and honest future relationship.

“We’re thrilled that ECSA won the NUS award as we work very closely with the team and know how much they do behind the scenes to benefit our students. This is very much deserved.”

Cabinet secretary for education and lifelong learning Michael Russell MSP said: “I am delighted to welcome Edinburgh College’s steps to give students a powerful voice and enhance their influence over key decisions. A central aim of our college reforms was to put students at the centre, a promise we underpinned with legislation to increase their representation on boards and requiring institutions to have students associations.

“This announcement represents yet another step forward in strengthening the voice of students and I believe the college can only benefit from listening closely to the people who matter most.”

The agreement comes following ECSA’s award as the NUS College Students’ Association of the Year, which it picked up at the 2014 annual NUS Scotland Conference. The NUS Awards judges gave the honour to ECSA for its work over the last year, which includes vice president for women Katy Nixon’s efforts leading to a win at the NUS Scotland Women’s Awards as Inspirational Woman of the Year (a category that president Kelly Parry was also nominated in), and a win at the same awards in the Achievement of the Year for being the first college in the country to appoint a full-time women’s officer.

ECSA has worked closely with the college to help develop education provision, engaged students through a range of events and campaigns, provided opportunities through volunteering placements, and introduced new societies and sports clubs at the college to cater for students’ interests.

Although the college funds ECSA and works closely with it, it does not influence its ability to act as an independent voice for students and respects its right to disagree with the college and help find positive, common ground.

EdColl

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