Who we are
We are 60+ societies, we're a bite to eat in Liberty's, and a pint in Geordies. We are support from the Advice Hub, Therapets, and Class Reps & School Officers. We're Freshers Week, Beer Fest, and volunteering.
We are a lot of things, but our purpose is to put our students first. We aspire to be the best student union in Scotland so that our amazing students receive the experience they deserve. We want to have fun, are open to change and empower our students to make a difference.
We do this by representing, supporting, advising and promoting the interests, health and welfare of students at Heriot-Watt University. We are a charitable company limited by guarantee and run charitable and commercial services including an advice centre, bar, shop and café.
We are about to launch our new and ambitious strategic plan and over the next few years will be designing and building a new Student Union centre where we will operate bigger and better services for our students. This is an exciting time of transformation and we need people like you to help us on this journey.
We are a democratic organisation which means we have elected student parliament, including four paid full-time student officers who are also trustees and directors. We have a career staff team of about 35 and a senior management team of four, led by the Chief Executive Officer. Our turnover is in the region of £3.3M with a block grant of nearly £560k and the remainder made up of commercial income.
Our Trustee Board
We have an established and well-performing board which is made up of:
• One President and three Vice Presidents who are all full time elected officers;
• Two student trustees, normally one undergraduate and one postgraduate;
• Between three and six external trustees, one of whom must be an alumni; and
• One university appointed trustee.
Our external trustees come from different backgrounds and bring experience in a range of areas including finance; students and the university sector; human resources and project management.
We are a registered charity in Scotland and our board's role is to ensure that the Union works effectively in how it achieves its aims. We're student-focused but if we spend all our money on Freshers Week and can't open our doors for the rest of the year, then we're not putting students first.
You can find more information about the role of charity trustees on the OSCR web site at
What sort of person are we looking for?
We're looking for people who are passionate about making a difference. You don’t need any other previous experience; we just need you to bring your enthusiasm and we'll bring the support and training.
We're about to embark on a new and ambitious strategy as well as launch a new brand. We are also in the early stages of designing a new Student Union building so we need people who are ready to challenge status quo thinking so that we can create something unique and long-lasting.
You will need to be able to make the time commitment, which isn’t huge but shouldn’t be underestimated. Unfortunately, we can’t accept applications from students who work for the Student Union or hold a position on Student Parliament.
If you are appointed we will ask you to confirm that you are legally able to hold the position of Trustee and Director.
||Maximum of two, two year terms
The Trustee Board meets about four times a year in the evening, usually between 5:30pm and 7:30pm. You are sent papers for the meeting one week in advance.
There is usually a planning meeting which takes place over an afternoon around November.
You are invited to attend the Union AGM which takes place around February.
Occasionally you will be asked to contribute to a specific discussion or decision by email.
One Student Trustee sits on our Remuneration Committee which meets twice a year. The other Student Trustee sits on our Appeals Committee which meets as required.
||All reasonable expenses will be paid
What usually happens at a trustee board meeting?
The Trustee Board meeting usually follow the same format. You will receive reports on the Union’s financial performance and also reports from the Executive Committee and Leadership Team. There are also usually items of business on strategic projects ranging from strategy to operational issues. Occasionally there are parts of a Trustee Board meeting that take place in camera and are therefore confidential. However most of the business of the meetings is made public through the minutes and can be viewed at www.hwunion.com/reference/trustee-board-minutes
What do I get from being a trustee?
Being a Trustee and Director is an excellent opportunity to develop a number of valuable skills that will be useful for your CV when you graduate.
You will develop:
- Communication and team work
- Understanding and using financial statements
- Strategic thinking and developing strategic plans
- Understanding of legal and business matters
- Governance and compliance
- Problem solving
- Time management
- Decision making skills
- Meeting skills and confidentiality
As a member of the Board you will also join a group of experienced and influential people who have a broad range of skills and industry contacts.
Click here to download our Trustee Information Pack