News Article

Democracy Review Update Jan 2021

Democracy Review Update Jan 2021

On 22 January we announced the first phase of the changes we’re making to our democracy...

Liv smiling in the sunshine outside Devonshire House

What changes are being made?  

On 22 January we announced the first phase of the changes we’re making to our democracy and governance.  

For our full-time roles, we’ve streamlined and developed the remit and focus so now it will be directly influenced by student policy, manifestos and priorities rather than bureaucratic processes.  

  • Guild President will lead on your Guild’s development and external relationships and partnerships  

  • Vice President Education represents you on your academic and learning experience  

  • Vice President Opportunities is being re-focused to still support student activities and groups including societies but will be broadened out to include more employability campaigns and projects. We’ve removed some of the operational aspects so that the role can focus on representing your student experience  

  • Vice President Liberation and Equality will be fighting for student rights, welfare and supporting the building of student communities  

We recognise more than ever the value of College Officers in representing you, so we’re now introducing the roles as paid positions with more structure and support. We hope this makes the opportunity of becoming a College Officer more accessible. 

We are proud to be a democratically run organisation, so we’ve streamlined our Elections Byelaw so we can be more transparent about our electoral fairness. 

Why are these changes being made?  

You told us that it was confusing, bureaucratic and unclear in terms of how we make decisions. We really value your feedback and want to ensure we represent your student voice in a better and more efficient way, as well as being more transparent about how decisions are made.  

These changes give your elected offices much clearer remits of responsibility and strips out all the needless bureaucracy.  

We have introduced the first phase (elected roles and elections) now so we can implement these changes in our Student Election later on this term.     

How are these changes made?  

As a charity, the Guild has a Board of Trustees who oversee the organisation. Our trustees are our Officer Trustees (Guild President and Vice Presidents), student trustees, and external trustees (appointed based on their experience).  

How the Guild is run is determined by a collection of documents called our byelaws. Byelaws are created (and changed) jointly by the Board of Trustees and Guild Council (the Guild’s representative body made up elected student representatives).  

The changes to our elected roles are made by changing our byelaws. Trustee Board passed the changes on 11 January 2021 and Guild Council passed them on 13 January 2021.  

Further changes, when ready, will be made later in 2021.  

How were students involved in this process?  

Because representing you is so important, we wanted to get how we do this right. We’ve been on an 18-month journey (taking slightly longer than planned, due to being interrupted by the pandemic) so we can thoroughly review how we do things, research best practise, and consider how we can implement impactful changes in our unique context. Most importantly, we needed time to talk to you, our members. None of this can be rushed.  

Students have been involved from the beginning; in fact, it was feedback from students which started this journey. Over the past 18 months, we’ve consulted three cohorts of student leaders (2018/19, 2019/20, and 2020/21), worked closely with our officers and student trustees, and last term we consulted over 2000 of you through surveys, focus groups, and interviews.   

How will I be represented?  

All students will be represented by the Full-Time Officers. Each will lead on an area of student life.  

You also have more specific representation from your College Officer.  

Taught students (undergraduate and postgraduate taught) are represented by the College Officer for your colleges (Business School, Humanities, Life and Environmental Sciences, Medicine and Health, Social Sciences and International Studies, and Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences).  

Postgraduate research students will continue to be represented by the Doctoral College Officer. 

The current system of Subject Chairs and Reps will remain the same as it is now.  

Further questions?

If you have any further questions abotu these changes, please get in touch with 




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University of Exeter Students' Guild is a Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered Charity Number: 1136468 Company Number: 07217324; registered in England and Wales Registered office: Devonshire House, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4PZ