News Article

RSU's Democracy Review - What you said

RSU have recently completed a democracy review. We are sharing the feedback from the Big Survey and focus groups, and telling you how we are changing the student leadership and representation system.

RSU's Democracy Review - What you said

Last November, RSU began a democracy review. We acknowledged that not many of you engage with our representation services, and we wanted to find out how you do want to engage and what you want from your union.  

In April, we launched the RSU Big Survey – 98 questions covering topics like inclusivity & belonging, financial concerns, and academic support. We also included a section on student voice, which made up the first primary research for the democracy review. 

Over a month, 304 of you completed the Big Survey. This provided valuable information. For instance: 

  • Only 19% of you said you feel listened to by those in charge 

  • Only 35% of you said you feel able to make change within RSU 

  • Most of you currently do not approach RSU if you’re experiencing a problem 

  • Students highlighted degree (48%), where you’re from (48%), and your culture (46%) as the key characteristics which are important for you to share when meeting new people 

We then met with university leaders, senior staff from across the colleges and RSU, and, most importantly, a range of students. 

We concluded that there is significant appetite to change our representation system. The system is currently operating with 27 part-time officers, an SU Council, and an ideas page on our website. Very few people, staff or students, believe this current system works for you. Very few people also do not currently see RSU as a change-making organisation.  

We want to change that. 

At SU Council on 26th September, your officers will be presented with a new student leadership & representation system which will be significantly different to the current system. As per your feedback, this needs to be: 

  • Quick to make decisions 

  • Easy to run and administrate 

  • Mixes the needs of elected official making decisions with the ability for reps to make student voices heard 

  • Does not require presenteeism to function (I.e., you do not need to attend meetings to make a difference) 

  • Consults the wider student body when necessary 

Select Committee model 

The proposed ‘Presidents’ Committee’ model takes inspiration from local and national committees and how they create policy using evidence, expertise, and elected officials.  

  1. Submission – students submit idea for change 

  1. Identification – the idea is looked at by RSU staff to determine if it’s a campaign idea or operational feedback 

  1. First meeting of Presidents’ Committee – to identify which groups, networks, and reps should feed into the idea and gather student feedback 

  1. Call for evidence – this would allow students to submit their own feedback on how the idea would affect them 

  1. Second meeting of Presidents’ Committee – evidence is analysed to see if there is broad student consensus. A recorded vote would be held. If 100% of the committee believe the idea has consensus if would be approved, become RSU policy, and be assigned to relevant Officers and staff to enact 

  2. If the committee cannot agree, the idea will be sent to referendum to all students. 

For more information and how to get involved, please contact