Everything you need to know about working in, being an officer in or being involved with students' unions.

About AUSA

whiteonred_crown1As the students’ association for over 16,500 students at the University of Aberdeen and an independent registered charity, AUSA’s mission is to create “a student community with influence”.  We work directly with students and partners to achieve this.  AUSA’s range of student services and activities are diverse. Our primary aim is to ensure members have the opportunity to expand their horizons, reach their full potential and change the world around them – a student community with influence.

With a turnover of £1.2m AUSA was formed in 2000 from the three long-standing independent councils of the Union Management Committee, Students’ Representative Council and the Athletic Association. In 2010 the association achieved the Bronze Award in the Students’ Union Evaluation Initiative (SUEI).  This recognises our progress as a student association and gave us the basis for further development.

We have been working on a new strategic plan – summarised by these 3 strategic themes:

  • Academic representation (quick and efficient representation which is recognized by students and brings about change)
  • Social hub (inclusive and welcoming social spaces available to and influenced by all members)
  • Communication (recognition, awareness and engagement with members)

The strategic plan will be launched soon, guiding and structuring our activities from 2014 onwards.

Our Values

Friendly We will create an inclusive, friendly environment and build a strong university community where all students can find their place to develop and participate.

Supportive We will foster a culture of mutual support and encouragement, both in our work with members and within our staff and officer teams.

Fun We will demonstrate how we value our important role in our members’ social and recreational lives, and we will support initiatives that help make AUSA and the University a more fun place to work and study.

Representative  We will strive to understand and place the long-term interests of all our members at the heart of our decision-making and we will actively seek to represent those interests robustly and at every opportunity.

Trust We will work to build trust in all of our relationships by promoting clear, positive, consistent and accurate communications. We will reward trust placed in us by demonstrating respect and a desire to work together towards our shared vision.

AUSA’s Operations

AUSA employs 40 members of staff (including 20 student staff) and has a turnover of £1.2m, which includes a grant from the University of £600k. Within our Butchart Centre base we operate ‘Alfies’ our café and social hub, and a book store.  At the moment our non-commercial services continue to form the major part of our operation and activities. We support students across volunteering, clubs and societies, advice and campaigning.

There is a formal staff structure with the most senior member being the Chief Executive (previously known as the General Manager).

Welfare, Advice and Equal Opportunities

Our Student Advice Centre provides the kind support that any student might need while at university. This ranges from providing guidance and representation to the university on course and educational matters, through to helping on issues that arise in a broader sense such as finances, housing, health and wellbeing and employment. some notable achievements have been:

  • 31% increase in student drop-in’s to the centre
  • 5 regional winners of the Student Employment of the Year Award (2 SAC Assistants) & 1 national winner
  • Successful 1st ever Stressed Out Student Event
  • Supported 18 students & 10 staff through the Mental Health First Aid course
  • 11% increase in accommodation to let adverts
  • 14% increase in job vacancy adverts
  • We have 4 staff trained in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)
  • Aberdeen Students Niteline – increased their volunteers and secured £5,000 funding

In our work around Education we have:

  • Won £10,000 of funding to train and support active engagement of Academic Representatives in their work, improve postgraduate representation and ensure Education is student-led
  • Won 85 successful academic appeals
  • Rebuilt the rep system and moved to online voting in 2013-14, with a planned full move to online in 2014-15 for remaining Schools
  • Successful peer training programme for Academic Reps giving students significant control over training content and direction

Sustainability

SHIFT (sustainable, healthy, innovative and fair transition) delivers our sustainability initiatives and campaigns. This work ranges from education to practical green solutions such as organic cooperative veg retailing to recycling bicycles. Our work has been recognised by our Silver status in the Green Impact Awards (we hope to have Gold soon). some other notable achievements are:

  • We successfully applied for £137K from the Scottish Government  to develop the existing Climate Change Project, using the funding to set up Power Shift and Carbon School – projects which  give students skills and tools to reduce their carbon footprints and build community, supported by the creation of five new staff posts.
  • We now have our very own bicycle generator kit worth £10,000, built by Electric Pedals and our students. With everything needed to run pedal powered film nights, parties and smoothie making events, t is the only bicycle generator kit in the north east of Scotland and it will be made available for community groups to hire.
  • Our volunteering service provides opportunities for students to be involved and support their community while increasing their own skills and experience. We are able to match organisations and individuals ensuring their skills and time commitment can have an impact and keep students at the heart of our community.
  • We developed the Carbon House, an engagement tool used to demonstrate the energy cost of household appliances. Originally used to promote the governments Green Deal our tool has been customised to make it more fun and engaging for students.
  • AUSA leads Fairtrade fortnight for the first time on behalf of the Universit and 13 local charities are receiving free energy advice from our student Carbon Agents and has successfully lobbied the university for fairer medication licensing patenting policies.

Charities

AUSA is very involved in its community, supporting local charities not just with volunteering but also raising funds across a variety of events throughout the year. Our biggest ever RAG Week in 2013 raised over £7,000 with the highlight being a bungee jump event.

See this video by the President for Charities and Community to learn more.

Campaigning

AUSA strives to support the campaigning activity that our members believe is key and be representative of their views. The focus is often around equality, green issues and education but evolves every year alongside the student cycle and new representatives of the membership. Read more about our campaigns

Clubs and Societies

Our members are involved in a wide range of clubs (50 sports clubs with 2300 members) and societies (over 120 with 3500 members) providing opportunities to meet and socialise with other students with shared interests. We help these clubs and societies with funding, organisation and training, supporting 420 committee members, 600 volunteers and almost 4000 members.  We have been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Games Community Award and have risen from 2 to 4 star award from NUS & Scottish Student Sport Healthy Body Healthy Mind Award

In 2013 we launched the Aberdeen Student TV Station and started the Aberdeen Student Festival and were awarded Scottish Student Sport Creativity Award for the ‘Puppy Room’ initiative helping students avoid exam stress.

Volunteering

We have over 700 students registered for volunteering for over 100 opportunites at any one time with up to 120 organisations. These opportunites range from student radio and newspaper to local conservation and from working as “carbon agents” to advice and support networks. We organise two Volunteering Fayres a year with up to 30 organisations attending, and have being awarded Investing in Volunteers Award in May 2013. To recognise the input of our members we partake in the “Saltire Awards” (for young people from 12-25) which has different levels of awards based on total volunteer hours and nominations by the organisation themselves. One of our students has reached the highest “Summit” accolade, one of only 12 per year.

Our Influence

In recent times AUSA has had an influence on Scottish and UK education and politics that belies our location and size.  Our elected officers have gone on to senior roles within the NUS.