Officer Blogs

Thoughts and opinions straight from the mouths of your elected officers.

Student President

Lawson is the elected representative for the entire student body to the University, local community and on a national level.

Student Council


1       Executive Summary

1.1    This paper is a report to the Student Council from the Student President of Aberdeen University Students’ Association which is for discussion and information.

1.2    The paper reports on a number of matters which may be of interest to members but which might not otherwise feature on the agenda.

1.3    Further information is available from the Student President,

2       Trustee Board

2.1    As per my role I chaired the Trustee Board. We have had interest in the two vacant Student Trustee positions. In addition, a potential external Trustee has expressed strong interest. This candidate has wealth of experience in the charitable sector and particularly in Governance.

2.2    In very due course an appointments panel shall be convened to appoint the potential Student and External Trustees before approval by Council. This should, I hope, strengthen the skill capacity of the Trustee Board and highlight the beginning of more credible governance of AUSA Trustee Board.

2.3    Our graphic designer Rachel McCann has put in an incredulous level of work over the last 2-3 months as part of the rebrand. The future AUSA logo will be decided by cross-campus ballot in due course.

2.4    A strategic plan has been developed and now finalized. This has been approved by the Trustee Board allowing AUSA to progress with strategic aims and objectives for the coming years.

2.5    AUSA should now be able to move forward in the next academic session with more robust planning in place.

3       Court – Appointment of Senior Governor

3.1    Following Sir Moir Lockhead renouncing his role as Senior Governor I have been heavily involved in identifying his successor. The Senior Governor to Court is the Principal’s assessor; supporting executive decisions, ensuring governance is robust and effective, and challenging the Principal when necessary. The individual is also the Chair of Court. In this instance however, he does not Chair the meetings owing to the Rector exercising their right to do so.

3.2    I sat on the shortlisting and longlisting panel before sitting on the final candidate interview panel. The panel agreed that Martin Gilbert upon successful interview would be offered the position on within Court, pending approval by members of Court.

3.3    Court approved the appointment and were comfortable with the decision. Martin Gilbert is the CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management and patron of the Aberdeen Law Project, as well as holding the role of Deputy Chairman of Sky PLC.

3.4    It is expected that Martin will bring a wealth of governance experience to court as well being a strong influence in support of students and advocate of sport.

4       Court – Campaign director

4.1    The University have entered into the process of recruiting a Campaigns Director to drive forward the achievement of fundraising targets.  

4.2    This role has a high strategic importance for the AUSA and the University and I will be heavily involved in ensuring that the candidate possesses the experience and attributes one would expect from the role.

4.3    It is hoped that there will be scope for greater chain of involvement from Alumni Relations to AUSA and the student body to ensure that, moving forward, students receive an increased value of support as they progress through the student life cycle.

5       Court – Update

5.1    Attended the meeting of University Court on the 6th of December where I gave an update on AUSA matters, student concerns (including Nightline statistics).

5.2    Members of Court were impressed by the work carried out by AUSA and continue to register their praise for the Nightline service.

6       University of Stavanger, Norway


6.1    On Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th January AUSA hosted four visitors from the University of Stavanger, Norway; the Student President, Vice President Teaching & Learning, Vice President Learning Environment, and CEO. It was an excellent opportunity to learn about our differences and similarities, and to share best practice; particularly focusing on housing, governance, and student support services.

6.2    I gave a presentation to the Norwegian group outlining AUSA and its role within the University, before engaging in lengthy discussions around our democratic structures.

6.3    UoS were thoroughly impressed by our Association, the University, and facilities such as ASV. Moving forward, AUSA plans to maintain connections with UoS; they would be interested in learning more about Nightline and setting up a similar service at their university.

7       Student issues

7.1    It has been brought to my attention on multiple occasions the desire to have microwaves on campus. The issue was raised last semester and has been raised again at the opening of this term.

7.2    Several concerns have been raised by staff of the university regarding health and safety, particularly the cleaning of the microwaves and how that would be managed.

7.3    Health and safety is a necessary concern. I will be liaising with the Director of Health and Safety in due course to discuss the matter further and see whether or not any such compromise can be made.

7.4    On the 19th of January I received communications from a student stating that they have seen more effort in raising awareness around mental health and wellbeing from the University and would like AUSA to ‘follow suit’.

7.5    Upon receipt I acknowledged the student’s concern and will look into the matter to see what profiling can be done; either to raise awareness of our AUSA services or initiate a particular campaign.

7.6    On the 12th of January the University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir performed a debut concert of their recently recorded album for Classic FM in the company of HRH Duchess Camilla and HRH Prince Charles.

7.7    Whilst this performance was successful in raising funds for the Ballater flood appeal, students of the choir and staff felt strongly about the lack of suitable performance spaces on the university grounds.

7.8    A meeting has been arranged between myself, and the Heads of the Music Department to discuss the Mitchell Hall, located within University-owned section of Marischal College.

8       Rag

8.1    The RAG initiative were very successful during the Refreshers’ Week Period and over the Christmas season.

8.2    I supported them in December, aiding with carolling and through Refreshers’ Week helping and supporting the Men’s 24-hour Hockey Match and the Refreshers’ Ceilidh.

8.3    Do note, I give my applause to RAG for their work. And will support where I can for the upcoming Charity Fashion show in March.

9       Housing

9.1    I have been engaging in conversations with a number of parties regarding current actions being sought to introduce an HMO Overprovision Policy in Aberdeen City.

9.2    AUSA are continuing to work against such actions and have released an organisational response speaking out against the Policy.

9.3    Members of the University have also spoken out against the proposal.

10     Alumni Relations & Development Trust

10.1  The link with Alumni Relations continues to be strong. I had a New Year catch-up with Katrina Allen, the Alumni Relations Manager.

10.2  We discussed the necessity for the Sabbatical team to continue to engage with the alumni population as many graduates of the University would like to support AUSA and add to enhancing the student experience by any means.

10.3  Katrina is currently finalising the draft strategic plan for AR. Once the draft is completed she will send it to me so that AUSA can make any additions where necessary.

11     Communications

11.1  I have been working with our Representative Services Manager and our Media and Communications Coordinator to create a Communications Plan over the coming weeks.

11.2  The primary objectives will include revising how and what we communicate to students at present. This will also include more involvement with our student groups, sports clubs, and societies.

11.3  There have also been discussions with areas of the University around the sharing of platforms and channels to have more unified communications.

12     Space Requirements

12.1  The CEO, and myself have been liaising with the University and Estates to discuss revised space requirements in the Union Building and Johnston.

12.2  This is part of an ongoing and onerous review of the space used and required by societies to proceed in their activities.

12.3  The review and at this stage is still in a continual phase though it is envisioned that further progress can be made post-meeting and review and the space planner.

13     Engagements

13.1  Attended the official opening of the Rowett Institute as a member of Court.

13.2  Attended the Men’s Rugby team ‘Mandella Cup’ match.

13.3  Attended the Court Dinner in honour of Sir Moir Lockhead who renounced his role as Senior Governor.

13.4  Attended the Annual Christmas Service at St. Machar’s Cathedral as the Student President of AUSA.



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