Board of Trustees Update: September 2023

On 28 September, the Board of Trustees met to discuss a number of key topics including our financial performance for the 2022-23 academic year, changes to our senior leadership team, and updates from the Sabbatical Officers to name a few.

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On 28 September, we held our first Board of Trustees meeting for the academic year 2023-24. Our Board of Trustees is made up of four sabbatical officers, three student trustees, and five external trustees and this group is legally responsible for the organisation. The Board also helps set out our strategy and provides guidance and expertise.

At Board meetings, Sabbatical Officers and the Chief Executive provide updates on their work and present items which need to be discussed and potentially approved by Board. At RHSU, we want to ensure we are as transparent as possible about how decisions are made and who makes them, so let’s dive into what was on the agenda at our latest meeting.

Sabbatical Officer Updates

All four officers presented their objectives for the year ahead, which included work around student safety, tackling sexual harassment, improving international student support, mental health awareness, employability, opportunities in sport, and the upcoming General Election.

Interim CEO Update

A written update was received from the Interim CEO, and a summary of work completed across June to September 2023 including day-to-day management and leadership support for direct staff reports and the Officer team; support for Officer inductions; managing relationships with University stakeholders; governance support to the Board of Trustees; leading recruitment of a new CEO; finalising block grant and budget for 2023-24; kick-starting the new strategy creation process; governance review; RHSU policy updates and approving capital works for the summer of 2023.

Finance, Staffing & Risk Sub-Committee update

Board received a written report and summary of items discussed and approved at the previous committee on 22 August. Matters of business included: provisional financial outturn for 2022-23, Staff Training and Development Policy, update on IT Governance and Cyber Audit, and approval of Alterline as a strategic market research partner for the development of RHSU’s new strategy.

Appointments & Remuneration Sub-Committee update

Board received a written report from the Interim CEO formally announcing the appointment of Tony Logan as Chief Executive with effect from 25 September 2023. The appointment of trustees to sub-committees and plans for recruiting the remaining external trustee position were also discussed.

RHSU Annual Report

The Board received and approved the draft annual impact report, which sets out progress against the agreed Strategic Plan. This forms the basis of the Annual Report alongside the annual audited accounts, which are then sent to the Charity Commission.

This Annual Report complies with the information we are required to present as per the Charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) and presents an overview of the organisation’s performance against Key Performance Indicators set as part of the current Strategic Plan.

RHSU’s audited accounts will be presented to the Board of Trustees in early December.

The annual impact report summarised progress against RHSU’s mission to make student life better at Royal Holloway and our strategic aims.

2022-23 Draft Financial Outturn

The Board reviewed the financial performance for the academic year 2022-23, which featured the following key figures:

  • Charity net position concluded the year at £230k, indicating the organisation's overall financial health.
  • Trading contribution for the year amounted to £237k.
  • Charitable income exceeded projections, reaching £1.74M, largely due to a steady rise in the block grant, providing a stable foundation for our financial planning.
  • Charity staff expenditure totalled £1.22M, reflecting prudent financial management amid rising costs and inflationary pressures.
  • Charity non-staff expenditure amounted to £524k.

In response to some disparities between budgeted targets and actual results, the Board endorsed the adoption of a zero-budgeting process for the upcoming financial year. This approach aims to align the budget with the current economic landscape, ensuring feasibility and accuracy.

The financial report will undergo an external audit in October 2023, with the results to be presented in the December 2023 Board meeting.

Governance Review

The Board received a report from the Interim CEO summarising changes to the scheme of delegation; a framework that details delegated authority across the Board of Trustees, sub-committees and management, a bi-annual review of Byelaw F and RHSU’s sub-committees and their terms of reference, and a full review and audit of the organisation’s governance arrangements against the Charity Good Governance Code.

Election Rules and Regulations 2023-24

The Head of Membership Engagement presented for approval the Election Rules and Regulations for 2023-24. The Board approved the Returning Officer, Deputy Returning Officer and Assistant Returning Officers for RHSU elections that span Leadership Elections for Sabbatical Officers, Community Officers, School Reps; Academic Reps, Student Executive Members and Community Officers; Student Group Elections.

The Board also approved amendments based on learnings from the 2022-23 elections and guidance from the NUS Elections Report 2023. The amendments will ensure RHSU can facilitate free and fair elections whilst ensuring candidates and their campaign teams conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the values and policies of RHSU and the regulations set out in the University’s Student Handbook. The Board approved all amendments.

RHSU Health and Safety Committee

The Board received a report from the Chief Operating Officer summarising the work covered by the Students’ Union’s Health & Safety Committee over the 2022-23 academic year in accordance with RHSU governance requirements. The report summarised changes to health and safety reporting; liaison with the University; incidents summary; and completed actions and priorities for the next twelve months.

RHSU Pay and Reward Policy

The Board received a paper that outlined changes to the Pay and Reward Policy. The changes reflected the need to reduce ambiguity enabling transparency and consistency, as well as responding to recent staff engagement survey feedback where communication and clarity around matters of additional pay or pay progression could be better. The policy also clarified what pay supplements can be authorised at a Senior Management Level, and which will be subject to Finance, Staffing & Risk Committee approval going forward. The Board approved all changes.

Rate Your Union Results

The Head of Membership Engagement presented the results of the 2023 Rate Your Union Survey. The survey received a maximum of 710 student responses across a range of student satisfaction measures covering core Students’ Union services and activities, as well as our five strategic aims. A more detailed action plan will be developed in due course and presented to the Board of Trustees, whilst also sharing the actions and commitments with our members.

Stand up for students

Do you want to play a lead role within the Students’ Union and help improve life on campus for students? Are you passionate about creating the most welcoming and inclusive environment to nurture student life and lead campaigns that create long-lasting change? If so, we think you would be the perfect candidate to run for a Sabbatical Officer position in the Leadership Elections 2024! Keep an eye out for more information coming soon!

If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at