Following a series of significant decisions and discussions with the University, and using your student feedback about wanting the Guild to change, we have reached a point of major development for our organisation, which we believe will have positive effects on the impact we can make on your student experience for years to come.
You can find our full statement here from 25 August and a blog post written by Sunday, Guild President, here.
If you have any questions about any of the information here, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that the FAQs will be updated regularly as the situation develops.
Who are the Trustee Board?
The Guild is a charity and is required to have Trustee Board who are responsible for the legal and financial security on the Guild. The Trustee Board is made up of four Full-Time Officers, up to four elected student trustees and up to four external trustees and is accountable to the Students’ Guild’s members (that’s you, our students) as well to the Charity Commission. You can find out who the members of the Board are here.
How did this decision happen?
In February 2020, we started a piece of work to review the organisational operations of the Guild. In light of our existing financial challenges and the impact of the pandemic on our income streams the Guild Trustee Board took a decision to explore the sale and transfer of commercial operations to the University in order to ensure financial stability.
After extensive and careful discussion, in July 2020 the Board decided to proceed with the transfer in order to ensure the long-term financial stability of the Guild. Since then senior staff and Full-Time Officers have worked with the University to ensure that this transfer delivers for students.
What is the timeline of this happening?
This is a complex agreement and we are still working through the details of the transfer. At the moment don’t have a clear timeline for when this will be finalised but we are committed to this process being as transparent as possible and we will provide updates as and when we are able to.
What are the next steps?
We are working very closely with the University to finalise the agreement. Once this has happened, we will be able to start the transfer process of our outlets over to the University. Our aim is to have this process be as smooth as possible and have limited interruption to your student experience.
What does an increase of block grant from the University mean?
The Guild, like the majority of students' unions, currently works off a model where our main income source is from a block grant which we received from the University. All Students’ Unions are funded by their University as it’s a legal requirement to have a SU under the Education Act 1994, however the amount that SU’s are funded varies depending on their agreements with their institution, have commercial trading outlets to help boost our income as the block grant doesn’t cover the true cost of being Exeter Students’ Guild and everything we deliver. We have relied on commercial income to plug that gap, but ongoing trading difficulties over the last few years coupled with the impact of coronavirus has highlighted that we cannot be a financially stable our current financial model. You can find out more about our finances by looking at previous financial reports.
By securing an additional £400k on our block grant from with the University, we can be financially secure as we won’t be reliant on our commercial trading outlets having a great year, and this increase is at least double what we’d be able to make in profits.
This block grant increase means we are able to properly fund our services without making cuts to membership engagement and will support us in our ongoing Guild Review Project allowing us to make improvements and changes to enhance your student experience further.
What is the large Guild debt?
The large debt is a combination of the SUSS pension scheme and the big VAT bill for The Ram.
What does this mean for casual student staff employed in our outlets?
Our priority is ensuring that students’ jobs are protected, and this is a central part of the ongoing negotiations and discussions we’re having with the University. We recognise how important employment is to many students, and we’ve been proud to support a huge number of students in part-time employment during their time at Exeter. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure students’ jobs are protected during this process. We will be in regular communications with the students impacted over the coming weeks and months.
How will this impact our outlets?
Looking at the short term, our outlets will continue as they have been. We recently announced that the Ram, Guild Shop, Comida and Pieminister will be reopening in time for Freshers’ and the start of term, whilst the Lemon Grove, Grove Diner, Italiano and the Print Room will remain closed until further notice – this announcement does not change any of this information, however we will of course update if there is news. You can read the full statement here. The outlets will remain under the management of the Students’ Guild until a sale is finalised.
In the long term, if a sale goes through, then the outlets will be transferred to the University. As we are still negotiating, we cannot be too specific at this stage, however we are committed to ensuring the long-term security of the outlets and the jobs of staff.
Is this why Italiano, Grove Diner, the Lemon Grove and the Print Room aren’t opening at the moment?
No – due to coronavirus restrictions and the predicted lower footfall on campus, the decision has been taken that it isn’t currently financially viable to open these outlets. In addition, the Lemon Grove cannot open due to Government guidance on nightclubs.
What happens with freshers’ events and activities?
Freshers’ events and activities will be unaffected by this announcement – the Ram, Guild Shop, Comida and Pieminister are all working hard behind the scenes to get ready to open safely for you.
Can we still use the outlets for student activities and events for start of term?
Yes – the Ram is looking forward to hosting activities and events, and our other outlets are still keen to support students wherever possible. There will of course be coronavirus restrictions, so we’d encourage you to get in touch with the outlets to find out more.
Will the outlets still be value for money after the change?
We understand how important value for money is to students, and we have agreed with the University that a central board which will have Students’ Guild and student involvement to ensure that all outlets on campus are value for money and ensure students are at the heart of decision-making.
What is the outcome of the negotiations over the casual student staff who are currently on the Guild’s books?
After lengthy discussions with the University it is proposed that as casual workers none of the students will transfer as part of the TUPE process. When one organisation buys another its employees are subject to TUPE transfer discussions, but as the casual staff are not employees, but are casual workers they are not included.
Students who work on casual contracts for the Guild are able to apply to be part of the Universities existing casual bank, and as the Guild we strongly encourage all of those students that are currently part of our casual staff to apply. To join the casual staff bank, staff can contact email@example.com or visit the webpage.
When you announced the transfer you said that keeping student staff roles was an important priority to you – what has changed?
As the Guild we have made a strong representation to the University that casual staff should transfer, however the response from the University is that this is a matter of law, and that the casual student staff don’t fall under the legal definition of the TUPE, and as such won’t be transferring. The University have made it clear that all current casual staff are welcome to apply to join the Universities existing casual bank (details above).
At a time when students need jobs why hasn’t the Guild done more to protect student employment?
We do really understand the need for students to have paid work to support them during their studies, sadly though this wasn’t a decision that was in our hands. What we are committed to doing is that where work needs doing in the Guild that we will look to see if it needs to be done by creating a permanent staff role, or if there are ways that we can create student employment opportunities.
Whilst we understand why there might be some frustration right now from students, we are confident that we are doing the right thing for the Guild and for students in the long term. The increase in block grant and the ability to focus on student activities, representation, campaigning and advice will have a positive impact on the student experience now and into the future.