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Lay Trustee | Birkbeck Students’ Union

This is an exciting opportunity to help develop Birkbeck Students' Union's strategic plan and be critical in holding them account to it. We're open about your background although experience leading growth and developing strategy would add real value.

  • Location: London
  • Salary: Voluntary

About the role

Established in 1904, we are one of the oldest Students’ Unions in the UK. We have a unique student demographic, and as a Trustee of Birkbeck Students’ Union, you will be part of the board that governs a membership organisation of 12,000 students, which includes one of the highest BAME student populations in the UK, and student ages ranging from 18 to 91 years old; from school leavers, to high-earning professionals; from home students, to refugee scholars.

We are proud of the incredible diversity within our student population. We value, celebrate and spend a significant amount of resource on liberation. We do this to tackle inequalities and build equity in higher education. Being inclusive is at the very heart of our mission. We are unapologetically proud that we have been working for over 115 years to ensure that students from all backgrounds can thrive in their studies. Our commitment to building inclusive student experiences will never waiver.

Around a decade ago, the SU began to struggle and over the past three years, we have been working to ‘get out of neutral’ and build a strong platform to operate from. We have achieved this mission, enhanced our governance, stabilised our finances and built a platform which we can now advance with. Going forward, we need to match the ambition of our students.

Our finances are as secure as they can be considering the challenges of COVID-19. However, we do want to grow and so that we can enhance the services we can offer students and amplify their voices. We are likely to need to explore income generation, either from commercial opportunities or external funding. We will also need to underpin our ambitions to grow with a strategic vision that can guide our plans and ensure that we grow in ways that are appropriate to our mission and purpose.

Who we're looking for

As a Trustee, you will be central in the development of this strategic plan, and critical in helping to hold us to account on it. We are open-minded about the background you might have although experience of leading growth and developing strategy would add significant value. Experience in governance and/or marketing would be advantageous. We are open to you being a first time Trustee, if you are excited by our mission.

We expect the time commitment for this role to be four-six Trustee board meetings. These held in the late afternoon and usually last for three hours. We also have two away days per year, an AGM and our awards evening.

We are proud to have a diverse and inclusive Trustee board, staff and officer team and especially welcome applications from candidates from underrepresented groups.

If you are inspired by the job, we highly recommend you contact Peridot for an informal discussion and background on the role:

Bill Yuksel | 07801 897063 | bill@peridotpartners.co.uk

Closing date: 9am, Monday 15th June 2020

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Bill Yuksel

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Welcome to Birkbeck Students' Union

Established in 1904, we are one of the oldest Students’ Unions in the UK, but we are not like other Students’ Unions – we have a unique mission as an organisation.

Birkbeck, University of London is the UK’s leading specialist provider of campus-based higher education for mature and working students, and as such, we have a unique student demographic. As well as having one of the highest BAME student populations in the UK, we also have among the oldest, with the average age of our students being in the mid-thirties.

As a Trustee of Birkbeck Students’ Union, you will be part of the board that governs a membership organisation of 12,000 students ranging from 18 to 91 years old; from school leavers, to high-earning professionals; from home students, to refugee scholars. With such a diverse student body, we are particularly focused on liberation and tackling inequalities in higher education, to ensure that students from all backgrounds can thrive in their studies. We also actively celebrate the diversity of our student body, for example by marching every year as part of Pride in London.

When Birkbeck was established in 1823 to provide education to the working class of London, our founder was accused of “scattering the seeds of evil” by daring to be the first to provide higher education in the sciences, arts and economics to working class people.

That radical tradition and unique mission continues to this day, and Birkbeck has no plans to change our mission anytime soon. Just as the university is different, so is the Students’ Union. Birkbeck Students’ Union is not solely commercially focused. We do not own a bar, a night club, a shop or a café, and we aren’t planning to anytime soon. We are an advocacy-focused Students’ Union, focused on providing strong representation for our members to improve their student experience, as well as providing opportunities for our students to be able to make the most of their time at university.

As a Trustee of Birkbeck Students’ Union, you will make decisions about the future of a unique and rapidly growing organisation that has both unique challenges and opportunities.

Best wishes,

Alex Holmes

About Birkbeck Students' Union

Birkbeck Students’ Union is an exciting and interesting place to be a Trustee. If leading an organisation which is membership led, political, vibrant and full of people who are working hard to deliver change for their members appeals to you, then you should consider becoming a Trustee in our Students’ Union.

Students’ Unions have a huge impact on education and in wider society. And the impact on individuals is huge too, every day we see students undergoing life changing experiences in the activities we offer.

We are a multi-faceted organisation that covers student recreation, clubs and societies, welfare, student representation and student campaigning. We are an evening university with an incredible variety of people with many part-time students, disabled students, mature students and over 50% of our students are BAME. Our membership refreshes naturally and constantly, and it means that as an organisation, we’re always developing.

Notable Birkbeckians include; TS Eliot, Marcus Garvey, Annie Besant, Ramsay MacDonald and Helen Gwynne-Vaughan.

You can find out more information about us at Birkbeck Students’ Union.

The role

Trustees are the people who serve on our governing body, as we are a charity. They are responsible for the general control and management of the administration of the charity, though some of these powers are devolved to staff.

Our Trustee Board is made up of student officers and students who are leading our organisation to deliver change for our members. What we need is support and guidance on things like strategy, financial oversight, legal advice and human resource support. We are especially keen to hear from applicants with experience in Higher Education and/or equality & diversity work. You would be forming part of a team that delivers real change for students and helps develop student Trustees too.

As a Trustee you have legal responsibility for the charity, ensuring that it is solvent, well-run, and delivering the charitable outcomes for the benefit of the public for which it has been set up.

To do this, you ensure compliance with charity law and other regulation whilst using your personal skills and experience as needed to ensure that the charity is well-run and efficient.

The Commitment

Trustees typically need to commit to between four and six meetings a year, with some additional duties or committees depending on your availability.

The Students’ Union will pay reasonable remuneration for expenses incurred as a result of carrying out duties in your role.

The Board

Our Board is made up of:

  • Up to Five Lay Trustees, recruited from outside the organisation
  • Up to Seven Officer Trustees, elected paid Union officials
  • Up to Two Student Trustees, one undergraduate and one postgraduate

The Officer Trustees are elected by our students in annual elections. Each Student Trustee must be a student at the time of their appointment and for the duration of their term as a Student Trustee. Student Trustees shall be appointed on one-year terms.

The Support

We are committed to ensuring our trustees are enabled to carry out their duties to the highest standard. An induction programme will be laid on for successful applicants with additional development opportunities provided when recognised.

To access a full job description and application details,
please fill out the form below.


If you would like an informal conversation around the role, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Bill Yuksel, Business Manager, on 07801 897063 or bill@peridotpartners.co.uk.

To apply, please submit a CV and supporting statement (the supporting statement should be a maximum of two sides of A4) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification. It would also be helpful to provide an explanation of your interest and motivation in applying for this position within your supporting statement.

Please ensure that your application is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting “Lay Trustee, Birkbeck Students’ Union” into the subject field.

We wish to encourage applications regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, age or religion or belief. All applications will be considered solely on merit.

Disabled applicants are invited to contact us in confidence at any point during the recruitment process to discuss steps that could be taken to overcome operational difficulties presented by the job, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.


Closing date: 9am, Monday 15th June 2020
Shortlisting: Tuesday 16th June
Video interviews: Monday 22nd June
Students council ratification: Wednesday 24th June

Equal Opportunities Monitoring

Peridot and Birkbeck Students’ Union are committed to promoting equality and diversity. To help us raise awareness and support a culture that is diverse and recognises and develops the potential of all, we need to appreciate the profile of candidates who apply for positions. We would therefore be most grateful if you would complete this equality monitoring form.

The information will be treated confidentially and anonymously and will help us to support our commitment to fair recruitment practice. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with anyone, in line with the new Data Protection Act 2018 launched on 25 May 2018. The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.

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