Guild Advisory Board- Meeting 3 Updates

Guild Advisory Board Meeting 3 (20 Feb 2024)

TL;DR: the advisory board explored how the Guild could be even more student-led and ratified a new External Trustee to the Board.


The Guild Advisory Board is a group of students selected to reflect the whole student population and to help lead the Guild through influence, accountability, and governance.

The advisory board was updated on how the Guild will be consulting students through the EDI Advisory Board on the new Access and Participation Plan and that the Guild is beginning a review into how students are represented.

Annual Planning

The focus of this meeting was exploring how the Guild could involve students in the annual planning and budgeting cycle. Ali (the Guild’s CEO) outlined that the Guild operates as an independent charity with an obligation to operate sustainably so it can deliver for students. While the Guild’s income is mostly fixed (c. £2.7m block grant from University), so is much of the expenditure (e.g. staffing costs and overheads). What projects the Guild runs and what staff work on is more flexible, and the Guild is about to begin planning what this will look like for 2024/25 and we want to see how students could be involved in this process. The key findings were:

- Most students don’t know enough about the Guild or finances to make an informed decision but could give useful opinions (e.g. through surveys, but not framed as ‘shaping budget’) to help the Guild prioritise.

- More interested students could be given more background information to sense-check the budget and plans and deliberate any questions.

- There should be a greater consultative role for advisory boards, societies, minorities, and St Luke’s students.

- There needs to be more transparency in planning and delivery (e.g. how money is spent).

Some students particularly wanted to know what this would look like with the current student priorities (data-based) rather than elected on manifestos approach.


The Guild, like every charity, has a board of Trustees who are ultimately responsible for the organisation. The Guild has 3 types of trustees: officers trustees (students elected by fellow students each year), student trustees (current students), and external trustees (providing expertise). Recently, one of the Guild’s external trustees stepped down so a new one needed to be recruited by the process set out in the Guild’s Articles (clause 25.1):

“Lay (external) Trustees shall be appointed by a simple majority vote of the Guild Council from such persons as have been nominated by the Board of Trustees.”

The Trustee Board’s Compliance, Governance and Risk Committee delegated authority to the Appointments Committee to nominate the external trustee. The Guild Advisory Board replaced and fulfils the role of Guild Council.

A total of 5 applications were received for the role, and it was felt that all candidates would be suitable to interview for the role. Interviews were held on 5 February by a panel of an officer, student, and external trustees (Rhys, Alex, and Margaret) supported by Ali. The committee recommended Charles Jones.

Charles is an Exeter Alumni, had various roles as a student (including St Luke’s President), and has worked for Bloomberg (and worked on diversity and inclusion initiatives).

While the students in the advisory board expressed frustration that the current process limits their role to simply ratify or not (and not any deeper involvement), they were satisfied that the ratifying Charles would be in the best interest of students (17 votes to ratify, 1 abstention, 0 votes against). Therefore, Charles has been ratified as an external trustee of the Guild.

In response to the feedback received, the Guild will improve the role of the advisory board in future trustee recruitments. Improvements will include involving the advisory board in identifying the skills or characteristics desired in future trustees which can be used to guide the recruiting process. In addition, the advisory board will be given more thorough information on the candidates, interviews, and trustees’ reasoning prior to being asked to ratify.  


Alex (Education Officer) shared how, by working with Exeter’s reps and officers across the Russell Group, he is worked to improve the academic experience (including accessibility, pastoral mentoring, lobbying against hidden course costs, and fairer mitigation). Emma (Guild President) updated on her recent work on the cost of living (£2 meal, bus prices), sustainability (ethical partnership, society support) and representing Exeter students in university meetings and nationally. All the officers then spend time with the students to have conversations on further topics including employability, flexible accommodation contracts for international students, and whether the £2 meal could be extended to dinner.

Advisory Board Impact

The Guild Advisory Board impacted the Guild in the following ways:

-  Made recommendations about how students can be involved in the annual budgeting and planning process. The Guild’s management team will keep this in mind as they begin the planning cycle this month.

-  Ratified Charles Jones to be one of the Guild’s trustees. He’ll attend the next trustees’ meeting (Feb) before officially beginning the role in April.

-  Made recommendations on the recruitment and ratification process of trustees to include more meaningful input of students. The advisory board will be involved earlier in future recruitments and be provided with more information prior to ratification.

EDI Advisory Boards - Meetings 2 & 3 Updates
Read More
Guild Advisory Board- Meeting 2 Update
Read More