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

AUSA Chief Executive

Volside1Background                                                                                Salary up to £65k

This is a great opportunity to join this growing and influential students’ association; a registered charity that represents 16,500 members and employs over 40 staff.

Our first Chief Executive will be joining at a critical time for AUSA.  As a medium sized student association, we must always focus on having the greatest influence on all around us.  This role represents a positive step change in our aspirations and determination to improve.

Higher Education within Scotland and the UK is changing.  This new, international market within HE has led to different expectations and different services.  These changes demand more flexible, more professional and more effective Students’ Associations and Students’ Unions.  Our members expect top class services from the University and us alongside a long-term return from their University life. We have to deliver now and sow the seeds for these longer term benefits.

Adapting to and exploiting these changes is critical for AUSA – we want to be a leading voice in the University and in education in Scotland and the UK.  With a new Strategic Plan being developed, the prospect of major capital investment in our building, a new staff structure, more professional support services, new external trustees and a stable, cohesive elected leadership, we have the core ingredients to make the step change required.


The new Chief Executive will face early challenges.  We know we need to get better.  Whilst we have made significant steps forward in our governance in recent times, we need to embed a culture that really values, nurtures and builds a partnership between our elected leaders and our executive leadership.  This will include more effective induction for our elected officers and trustees, improved support for our strategic priorities and a robust approach to performance management and delivery across the organisation.

We need to rebuild our core systems, structures and processes.  This includes improved HR, training and development; better financial monitoring, planning and accountability; an open, transparent and empowered culture focussed on performance and outcomes and better engagement with our members.  Given our wide range of funded member activities, we need a real understanding of our legal obligations, including our duty of care to our members, health and safety and compliance with legal requirements as a charity.

The future

Maximising the benefits of the impending £10 million investment in our building and facilities whilst shaping an effective partnership with the University will be a key priority that will build the foundations that propel us to greater impact and influence.  This is a one-off opportunity to change and grow AUSA.

We are entering a new strategic planning phase, with a greater sense of direction and a £10 million investment in our building. This is the perfect time to help create a culture that harnesses the creativity and drive of sabbatical officers and the support from committed staff teams. Reporting to a Board of Trustees, working with a full time officer team of 7 and managing a staff team of 40 you will ensure we are a relevant, capable, high quality and professional organisation that pushes the boundaries for itself and others.

So who are you?

You will bring a successful track record as Chief Executive, Director or senior manager in a relevant and comparable organisation that delivers services to customers or members. You can come from any sector.  Your values and behaviour must show that you can help to shape strategy and delivery in a student-led, democratic organisation with a trustee board and an annual election cycle.

You will be experienced in leading and managing a departmental team or organisation where you have led a significant change and improvement agenda, having shaped strategic direction, managed performance, resources and risk, developed positive organisational culture, built effective relationships and developed services which generate a return on investment. You will have good commercial instincts, insight into managing risk and the judgement needed to lead an improving and learning organisation.

This role requires someone who will positively embrace the way in which students’ associations operate.  You must value the talent, insight, drive, passion and contribution of elected student officers.  Ideally you will have experience of working in organisations that are either member-led or have trustee boards. You will be able to support and guide the student leaders, while leading and managing high performing teams.

Please have a good look around the information on this website to understand more about us and view the details of the role in the Job Description. The Person Specification will give further details on the type of person we are looking for.

We’re excited by this opportunity.  If you think you can share and harness this excitement to deliver change, we look forward to meeting you.


  • Generous holiday entitlement: 33 days + 8 Aberdeen Bank holidays
  • Contributory pension scheme (the University of Aberdeen Superannuation and Life Assurance Scheme)
  • NUS Extra Discount Card
  • Free/discounted use of Aberdeen Sports Village facilities

The Job Description and Person Specification for the role can be found below. Simply fill in the information fields further down this page and they will be revealed to you and also emailed to you. Salary for this role is up to £60-65k.

We hope you take time to read more about this opportunity and about the work of  AUSA, please get in touch with our advising consultants if you would like to discuss any of the particulars further.  If you feel that the environment and challenges of this role could inspire you, then we look forward to receiving an application.