The Best Student Life. Bristol SU

Trustees & Governance

Overseeing Bristol SU is a Board of Trustees

What is the Board of Trustees?

Overseeing Bristol SU is a Board of Trustees, which is responsible for ensuring that the organisation complies with the law, with its own charitable objects, and with the policies agreed by its democratic structures.

The Trustees are also responsible for safeguarding the financial stability, good name, culture and ethos of the Union. They actively contribute to developing the strategic direction of the organisation.

The Board meets regularly throughout the year.

What do they do?

Make sure students are at the heart of everything we do

We are a registered charity with clear aims and objectives, and our activities must be for the benefit of students at the University. The Board of Trustees makes sure we achieve this, by approving and monitoring our strategic plan, and monitoring and evaluating the performance of our services and activities in line with our charitable objects.

Safeguard our reputation and manage risk

The Board of Trustees do not get involved in the day-to-day business of the Students’ Union but they have a duty to make sure we don’t break any of the laws or regulations we must follow as part of our work and act in line with our governing documents.

Make sure we remain financially solvent

The Board of Trustees manage all of our finances, approving all our expenditure and our annual budget. They look after the long-term stability of the Students’ Union, making sure that we continue to have money available to provide services which benefit our students.

This means that they may occasionally take legal or commercial decisions which cannot be overruled by students.

The day-to-day operations of the Students’ Union are delegated to the Chief Executive and the staff team.

The Board operation is governed by a set of rules.

How can you influence the Trustees?

Whilst the Trustees have to take a number of decisions that may not seem directly relevant to your student experience, it is vital that they understand the views of the members of the Students' Union.

As members of the Students' Union, you can influence the Trustees in a number of ways:

Contacting the Full Time Officers or Student Trustees - The full time officers are your elected representatives but they are also trustees. Whilst they are obliged to think about the overall organisation when taking decisions as trustees, they still take into account the wishes of the student population. Find out how to contact the officers here. To contact student trustees please contact Suzanne Doyle, Executive and Governance Manager or contact them via the University student database.

Raising issues at Student Council or the Annual Members Meeting - You can find out how to do this on our democratic events page.

Standing for election - Twice a year during October and March. Find out more on our elections page.

Who are the current Trustees?

The Board of Trustees is 16 strong and is Co-Chaired by a team of full-time officer trustees and a co-opted trustee. They meet regularly throughout the year, with committees meeting at regular intervals before each Trustee Board. 

Elected Officer Trustees (7)

They are elected by all students in a cross-campus election each spring, As Elected Student Officers they hold posts for one year and cannot be elected more than twice. As Elected Student Officers they lead the Students' Union, but they are also trustees.

Elected Student Trustees (4)

Student Trustees are elected by all students in a cross-campus election each spring to serve as SU Trustees alongside study. They are unpaid.

The Student Trustees do a 2-year term, which is staggered, so there are always 2 Trustees in their second year on the board, however for 2020 - 2021 we will be having 4 New Student Trustees and 2 will be for 1 year and 2 will be for 2 years.

Co-opted Trustees (4)

These external trustees (called Co-opted) are independent professionals appointed for their skills, experience and knowledge. They are appointed by the trustees, following an interview by a panel made up mainly of student trustees. They are unpaid

Nominated Trustee (1)

This final trustee is appointed by Bristol University and approved by Bristol SU Trustees

The Board is also advised by a number of Union and University staff:

  • Ben Pilling, Chief Executive, Bristol SU (Secretary to the Board)
  • Jo Lock, Interim Associate Director of Finance, Bristol SU 
  • Jason Smerdon, Financial Contact, Group Finance Director, University of Bristol
  • Keith Feeney, Legal Contact, Senior Lawyer, University of Bristol
  • Suzanne Doyle, Executive and Governance Manager, Bristol SU (Clerk to the Board)

Committees of the Board

Members of the Trustee Board additionally meet in the following:

  • Trustee Board - which include finance and risk. The Board reviews and reports on the monthly and annual accounts in detail, monitors and review the risk register and reviews and agrees the Union's budget and monitor the operations of the Union and student democracy.
  • Governance Committee - this meets alongside the Trustee Board. The Committee reviews, monitors and supervises all legal, constitutional and governance matters affecting the Union.
  • Board Development Committee - tis meets alongside the Trustee Board. The Committee is responsible for the appointment of Co-opted Trustees and Chief Executive, recommends Advisers to the Board and Associate Members of the Union. The Committee reviews and monitors the induction, training and development of the Board and Board effectiveness.
  • Remuneration Committee - this meets as required to recommend the remuneration of the Full-Time Officers and Chief Executive to the Board.
  • Appeals Panel - this meets as required to review the reasonableness of a decision of the Trustees under Article 33 to remove a Trustee from office

Trustee Meetings and Minutes

Trustee Minutes 5th Nov 2020

Trustee Minutes 15th Jan 2021

Next Trustee Board Meeting is Tue 8th June at 2 - 3.30