Code of practice

The Education Act 1994 ("the Act") requires governing bodies of universities 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.

The Act requires universities to prepare and issue a Code of Practice setting out the manner in which the requirements of the Act will be effected and in relation to each of the requirements details of the arrangements made to secure its observance.

This Appendix has been prepared to satisfy this requirement. It has been issued on the authority of University Council which, as the University's governing body is ultimately responsible for implementing and monitoring adherence to the Code.

Durham Students Union is a charity registered in England and Wales (reg. no. 1145400) and a company limited by guarantee (reg. no. 07689815). 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 articles of association. Further information about these restrictions is available on the Charity Commission website or from Durham Students' Union.

The obligations of the University and the Durham Students' Union under the Act are set out below.

The Board of Trustees is responsible for completing an annual assurance return at the end of the financial year to confirm to the University Secretary that Durham Students' Union has complied with the requirements of the 1994 Education Act.

The University Secretary is responsible for providing assurance to the University Council on an annual basis that responsibilities under the Education Act have been fulfilled in respect of all matters except for those indicated at g) and h) below for which the Chief Financial Officer (Treasurer) is responsible for providing assurance.

References to the University Secretary denote University Secretary or his/her nominee.

Requirement of Section 22 (2) of the Education Act

Responsibilities

(a) The union should have a written constitution

The Durham Students' Union Constitution was approved by University Council on 11 March 2008. (Minute 61)
References in this Code of Practice to Constitution shall also include any subsequent constitutions adopted by Durham Students' Union and which are approved by the University in accordance with this Code.
Detailed procedures of a constitutional nature are set out in Durham Students' Union Standing Orders. Those parts of Standing Orders relating to 1994 Act responsibilities were approved by the University during 2007-08.
Changes to the Standing Orders and procedures which relate to the Education Act are subject to the approval of the University Secretary (i.e. election regulations, opt out process, allocation of resources to societies, affiliations, complaints procedure).
Durham Students' Union guidance and strategy documents affected by the Education Act are also subject to the approval of the University Secretary.

(b) The provisions of the constitution should be subject to the approval of the governing body and to review by that body at intervals of not more than five years

See above.
The next review will take place in AY 2012/13.
The University Secretary is responsible for ensuring that the five-yearly review is initiated and for bringing to the attention of Durham Students' Union the date on which the review is due.
Durham Students' Union is responsible, in consultation with the University, for reviewing its Constitution and for bringing the outcome of each review for approval by appropriate Union committees and by the University Council through appropriate University committees.
No change to the Constitution proposed by Durham Students' Union either during a 5 year review or at any other time shall be effective unless and until approved by the University.

(c) A student should have the right not to be a member of the union, or in the case of a representative body which is not an association, to signify that he does not wish to be represented by it, and students who exercise that right should not be unfairly disadvantaged, with regard to the provision of services of otherwise, by reason of their having done so.

The Constitution establishes the right of students to opt out of Union membership
The process to be followed shall be set down in Durham Students' Union Standing Orders which shall indicate that any changes to the opt out form are subject to the approval of the University Secretary. Students must complete a form, available on the Union website, and return it to the Union reception. The form sets out the consequences of opting out of Union membership.
A copy of the completed form must be sent to the University Secretary department (Academic Registrar) for their records.
The right of opt out is also published in relevant University student induction material.

(d) Appointment to major union offices should be by election in a secret ballot in which all members are entitled to vote

The Constitution establishes this.

(e) The governing body should satisfy themselves that the elections are fairly and properly conducted.

University Council satisfies itself that the elections are fairly and properly conducted through empowering the University Secretary, on its behalf, to carry out suitable checks without notice on any and all elections carried out by the Union. Durham Students' Union shall comply with any reasonable requests from the University Secretary in discharging these duties, including but not limited to releasing or providing copies of any documents which are requested.
The procedures for the conduct of elections shall be set down in the Election Regulations which shall include a complaints process by which a student who has reason to believe that an election has not been fairly and properly conducted may bring the matter to the attention of the relevant authorities.
Durham Students' Union's Standing Orders shall indicate that changes to the election regulations shall be approved by the University Secretary.
Durham Students' Union shall forward to the University Secretary a copy of the report made by the Senior Returning Officer in relation to elections to major union offices.

(f) A person should not hold sabbatical office, or paid elected union office, for more than two years in total at the establishment.

This is established in the Constitution
Durham Students' Union shall provide the University Secretary with a list of all sabbatical appointments.
The University Secretary shall maintain a list of sabbatical officers in the University Calendar.

(g) The financial affairs of the union should be properly conducted, and appropriate arrangements should exist for the approval of the union's budget, and the monitoring of its expenditure, by the governing body.

The terms and conditions for the payment of University funds to Durham Students' Union, approval of Durham Students' Union's budget and the monitoring of Durham Students' Union's expenditure are set down in the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the University and the Trustees of Durham Students' Union and in the Funding Agreement attached as an Appendix to that Memorandum.

(h) Financial reports of the union should be published annually or more frequently, and should be made available to the governing body and to all students, and each such report should contain, in particular, a list of the external organisations to which the union has made donations in the period to which the report relates, and details of those donations.

Durham Students' Union shall publish its audited Financial Statements annually or more frequently as directed by the University.
Durham Students' Union shall make its audited Financial Statements available to all students via Durham Students Union's website and to the Chief Financial Officer (Treasurer) who shall report receipt to University Council and make copies available to any member who requests this.
Details of donations made by the Union shall be set out in the audited Financial Statements.

(i) The procedure for allocating resources to groups or clubs should be fair, and should be set down in writing and freely accessible to all students

Durham Students' Union shall publish the procedures for allocating resources to groups or clubs in the Durham Students' Union Society Regulations which should be accessible to members on the Durham Students' Union website.
Durham Students' Union's Standing Orders shall indicate that revisions to the regulations for the allocation of resources to societies must be approved by the University Secretary.

(j) If the union decides to affiliate to an external organisation, it should publish notice of its decision, stating the name of the organisation, and details of any subscription or similar fee paid or proposed to be paid, and of any donation made or proposed to be made, to the organisation, and any such notice should be made available to the governing body and to all students.

Durham Students' Union shall notify the University Secretary and all students of a decision to affiliate to an external organisation in accordance with Durham Students Union's Standing Orders.
The University Secretary shall bring the information to the attention of University Council.

(k) Where the union is affiliated to any external organisations, a report should be published annually or more frequently, containing a list of the external organisations to which the union is currently affiliated, and details of subscriptions or similar fees paid, or donations made, to such organisations in the past year or since the last report, and such reports should be made available to the governing body and to all students.

Durham Students' Union shall include information on external affiliations in its audited Financial Statements as set out in its Funding Agreement with the University and in Durham Students' Union's Standing Orders.

(l) There should be procedures for the review of affiliations to external organisations, under which the current list of affiliations is submitted for approval by members annually or more frequently, and at such intervals of not more than a year as the governing body may determine, a requisition may be made by such proportion of members (not exceeding 5%) as the governing body may determine, that the question of continued affiliation to any particular organisation be decided upon by a secret ballot in which all members are entitled to vote.

Durham Students' Union shall conduct an annual review of its current list of affiliations at its last meeting of the Academic Year in accordance with the procedures set down in Durham Students' Union's Standing Orders.
The University Council has agreed that:
a) a referendum may be called on affiliations upon the agreement of 5% of the membership through a secure petition.
b)only one referendum on any given topic shall be held per academic year, except in the case of constitutional amendments.

(m) There should be a complaints procedure available to all students or groups of students who are dissatisfied in their dealings with the union, or claim to be unfairly disadvantaged by reason of their having exercised the right referred to in paragraph (c) above, which should include provision for an independent person appointed by the governing body to investigate and report on complaints.

The Durham Students' Union Complaints procedure is set down as an annex to this Code (available here) and any amendment to it is subject to approval by the University. The Complaints procedure shall be made available to students on the Durham Students' Union website.
To allow the University Secretary to verify that Durham Students' Union is dealing with complaints received by it promptly and fairly and that effective remedies are being provided, Durham Students' Union shall provide the University with an annual report on complaints received and how they have been dealt with and/or resolved.

(n) Complaints should be dealt with promptly and fairly and where a complaint is upheld there should be an effective remedy.

 

Section 22 (4)(a) Information for students

 

Under section 22(4)(a) of the Education Act 1994, the University is obliged to draw this Code to the attention of all students at least once a year

Durham Students' Union shall provide information to the University Secretary to enable her to verify annually that Durham Students' Union has drawn the Code of Practice to the attention of all students annually.
The Code is available on the Durham Students' Union website. The Durham Students' Union President shall bring the Code to the attention of all students at the start of the Academic Year through his/her bulletin and shall send a copy of the bulletin to the University Secretary.
Reference to the Code is also included in relevant University student induction material.

Section 22(4)(b) - Information for students

 

Under section 22(4)(b) of the Education Act 1994, the University is obliged to draw to the attention of students at least once a year the restrictions imposed on the activities of Durham Students' Union by the law relating to charities.
Resources provided to Durham Students' Union through the University should be used only for the charitable purposes of Durham Students' Union as defined in the Constitution paragraph 8.

 
   

Approved by University Council 5 July 2011.