North East Scotland College is a further and higher education college with campuses and learning centres in Aberdeen and across Aberdeenshire offering a range of full time, part time, flexible learning and online courses to over 21,000 students. The Students’ Association (NESColSA) is run by college students with an elected Regional and Depute President who represent the student body on the college Board of Management and are also accountable to a Trustee Board . The presidents also lead an elected committee that represents different needs and requirements of the diverse student body and organises a wide variety of events open to all students.
The starting point
In the spring of 2015, NESColSA were preparing for their presidential elections starting in May. Recognising the impact of both the officer and course rep elections on the effective running of the Students' Association, NESColSA decided that an online elections platform was vital to ensure the continued support and involvement from the wider student body. Acknowledging their members’ expectations of an easy to set up, maintain and use elections system, the Association chose to use Membership Solutions Limited's (MSL) Elections module to provide the online facilities and support needed in time for their May elections. This move to online elections was well received by student members resulting in the biggest turn out the Association had seen in recent years.
We are so pleased that we decided to use the MSL voting system. We had the biggest turn out at this election and that is mostly thanks to the system. The system itself is very straightforward, easy to set up and maintain. All students who used the system found it easy to vote.
Next steps into digital
Following the success of their first foray into digital engagement using just a small part of the MSL System®, NESColSA were keen to see how a full digital membership management platform could help them with their primary objective of advancing the education of its members and students of the college as a whole through social and cultural activities, representation and opportunities to gain new skills. The Association spoke with a number of students’ organisations already using digital membership management platforms, including MSL’s, and subsequently chose to implement the core MSL System which would provide them with a new website, ecommerce and point of sale facilities, clubs and societies tools, blogs, polls and surveys.
Supporting and engaging with student members
In September 2015, NESColSA began its transformation to a digital membership organisation with the implementation of the MSL System. The membership resources available to the Association’s committee and staff coupled with fresh ideas and drive from newly elected officers has led to a significant increase in student participation with college life. In addition, NESColSA now has access to detailed analytics which allows them to monitor the effectiveness of their activities and initiatives.
As well as running two elections in 2015-2016 to fill 20 posts across two campuses, the Student Association has plans to engage more effectively with even more students in the new session, facilitated by their new website. The Association already has external partners keen to work with it by promoting healthy eating and student benefits, activity which will take place via the website.