Governance of Student Organisations
Durham Students' Union
Durham Students' Union is the University's central Student Union under the 1994 Education Act and is the representative body for all the students of the University.
a) Legal Status
Durham Students' Union became a Company Limited by Guarantee on 1 August 2011 (company number 7689815). The Union is registered with the Charity Commission (charity number 1145400).
Durham Students' Union reviewed its governance arrangements as a consequence of the Charities Act 2006, which removed the exempt charitable status of student unions and meant that student unions with a turnover in excess of £100k now fall under the regulation of the Charity Commission.
A revised Constitution to enable the Union to meet the requirements of the Charities Act, and which also included provision for transition to a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) status, was approved by University Council and student referendum in 2008.
Further amendments to the Constitution were approved in 2011 and 2012. The full text is available on the Durham Students' Union website.
The Constitution will be reviewed during the academic year 2018 in accordance with the requirement under the 1994 Education Act that a student union constitution is reviewed at 5 yearly intervals.
c) Implications of Membership
Membership of the Union is free although, as it is a CLG, there is the potential to incur a £1 liability per Company member (trustee) should Durham Students' Union ever cease to exist.
All students are automatically a member of Durham Students' Union unless they choose to opt out of Union membership. Opting out is a right which all students have under the 1994 Education Act. Information about the implications of opting out and the process to follow is available on the Durham Students' Union website.
Communication between the Durham Students' Union company and members will usually be by electronic means (including distribution of the annual financial statements) unless members notify otherwise. Students who wish to opt out or to be contacted by other means should notify the Durham Students' Union President in writing.
d) Responsibilities Under the 1994 Education Act (EA)
The Charities Act and the new legal form of Durham Students' Union do not change the University's obligations under the 1994 Education Act to oversee Durham Students' Union activities in some specific ways.
The EA requires the Council, as the governing body of the University, to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to secure that any students' union operates in a fair and democratic manner and is accountable for its finances.
In accordance with the EA, Council approved in July 2008 (amended July 2011) a revised Code of Practice detailing how the requirements of the Act will be effected.
The EA also require us to draw to the attention of all students:
- that, as a charity, Durham Students' Union is subject to a number of restrictions- most notably that the charity must only operate in accordance with its charitable objects and powers as stated within its constitution.
- the Code of Practice issued by the University relating to Freedom of Speech .
e) Relationship Between the University and Durham Students' Union
The collaborative relationship between the University and Durham Students' Union is regulated through a Service Level Agreements, a License to Occupy and a Data Sharing Agreement.