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City of Glasgow College force through new students' association constitution
Questions go unanswered as college ignores students over CitySA governance
Friday, 29 June, 2012 | 19:31
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Scotland's largest college has approved a new students' association constitution without full student approval following a disagreement between students and management.

City of Glasgow College failed to follow the correct procedure for amending the students' association constitution, which was approved at board of management meeting on June 13.

Problems with the new students' association constitution is the latest of several to hit the Glasgow college in recent months with the student elections delay fiasco continuing, while earlier this week president Emma Iwanow sensationally quit.

Information uncovered by The Journal shows that the new constitution was drafted by a joint working group made up of college staff and the students' association, but there were 'deep divides' between the association and college over some amendments at a meeting on June 11.

CitySA's vice-presidents received a final, very different version to the one agreed by student leaders just hours before the board of management meeting on June 13.

Student support was then withdrawn prior to constitution being considered by the board of management as student leaders objected to a college-orchestrated version.

The Journal understands that a member of the college's senior management team who was notified of the support withdrawal had not checked their email prior to the meeting, and with the absence of the student board member at the board of management meeting there was no student representation at the meeting to voice objections.

Under Article 10.2 of the Metropolitan College Students' Association constitution adopted by CitySA, any amendments to the constitution "shall require the support of a minimum of two-thirds of members present".

However, due to the short timescale between the working group meetings and the board of management meeting, no meeting of the student executive or wider student representative council (SRC) debate to consider the amendments took place, with the first chance for students to consider the constitution expected to be by the college's SRC in 2012-13.

As with previous practice, the sabbatical president and two part-time vice presidents will continue to sign a contract to become members of college staff, be subject to Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) checks, college staff policies and procedures, and line managed by the head of student information and funding.

The Journal understands that a vice-president may hold another vice-president position or president position in a second year, and vice versa.

City of Glasgow College failed to respond to several requests from The Journal to comment, instead putting out a brief statement from vice presidents John Gaughan and Gulnasheen Shahid.

Speaking to The Journal about the new constitution, John Gaughan, outgoing vice-president education, said: "Having the current constitution is better than having no constitution at all. This means that the students’ association will have a clear basis on which to work from next year.

"There are still improvements that we feel could be made to the constitution, and it is inevitable that as this is the first ever constitution that CitySA has had that there will be teething issues with its initial implementation.

"We feel confident that the Students’ Association and the college will work together, with NUS support, refining the constitution in the new term."

Following a meeting of the association with college senior management, a more refined constitution could be put forward by August following consultation with NUS Scotland.

NUS Scotland president, Robin Parker, told The Journal it is integral that students are involved at every level of future governance and NUS Scotland will work with the association to develop a constitution.

He said: "With Mike Russell’s update today on the review of post-16 education, there was a strong message that students’ must be at the heart of the reforms that are currently taking place to colleges in Scotland.

"If those reforms are to be successful, it is crucial that at every level of future governance there needs to be student representation, which is respected, enhanced and formalised.

"In particular we are pleased that the Scottish Government, with their response to the Griggs review, have announced that in their next guidance letter to the Scottish Funding Council they will include a commitment to strong, autonomous and sustainable students’ associations across the college sector.

"We look forward to working with CitySA and the City of Glasgow College over the coming year, to further develop their constitution to make sure that it is fit for purpose."

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