The NUS Scotland Awards are a chance to showcase and celebrate the very best of our movement's work from the past year, sharing the success of amazing students’ associations, officers, staff and student activists who have been changing education, students’ lives, and their communities for the better. Competition was tight, which is a fantastic endorsement of the work being done to improve the lives of students right across Scotland. The winners were chosen by an independent panel of experts.
Stirling University Students' Union
The first award of the evening was the Campaign Award, which went to Stirling University Students' Union for their project #IsThisOk: Preventing & Tackling Sexual Violence and Misconduct. This was the result of input from a number of external organisations, including the National Rape Task Force, as well as using innovative methods like film screenings and conversations to engage students. All of this was driven by a desire to foster a culture where sexual violence, harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct are not tolerated, and are actively challenged.
Glasgow Kelvin College Students' Association
Glasgow Kelvin College Students' Association were the winners of the Diversity Award. This followed their work bringing the White Ribbon Campaign to their campus, delivering presentations and targeting classes which were disproportionately men to spark discussions and get sign ups to the campaign's aim of tackling violence against women. The campaign aimed to get 500 students signed up to the pledge, but ended with 800.
Highlands and Islands Students' Association
The Student Opportunities Award recognises the activity students’ associations undertake to develop students and open up the opportunities available to them, ranging from volunteering, and societies, to sports clubs, wellbeing and media.
The winner this year was Highlands and Islands Students' Association. Despite the geographic challenge of having dozens of campuses covering an area the size of Belgium, this year HISA set out to provide students at each of their colleges with sports and society opportunities and foster a sense of community. After getting student representatives to pitch ideas that could overcome these barriers, HISA developed an innovative model of a club which varied its activities, accommodating the small population at some colleges. HISA has also held its first sports day – creating inter-college experiences and opportunities.
Edinburgh College Students' Association
The Education Award for 2018 went to Edinburgh College Students' Association. This year, ESCA have reaped the rewards of their overhauled student representative structure – becoming a powerful voice of their students. They used workshops to get qualitative and quantitative evidence on the key issues affecting students – helping them challenge the college on areas from induction and retention to student mental health. This identified specific barriers, like a broken bursary system, and allowed them to use evidence to force the college to intervene – introducing short term solutions and long term overhaul.
Heriot Watt University Students' Union
Our students’ associations would be nothing without the people within them, whether it’s the staff who work hard day in, day out, or the officer teams they support. The Officer Team of the Year Award This recognises the value to an association, and student bodies, of a strong officer team - and acknowledges the incredible examples of team work across associations.
The winner for 2018 was Heriot Watt University Students' Union. Despite facing unique, and at times unexpected, challenges – including campuses across multiple continents – the team have created an impressive list of achievements, both personal and organisational. They’ve created a Trans officer place, won funding to research the attainment gap, their BAME officer has been invited to speak at conferences – the list goes on and on.
Edinburgh University Students' Association
This year we brought in some special awards. We received some nominations that, judges felt, warranted special recognition of the scale of impact that these winners have had. So the winner of the very first Outstanding Achievement Award was Edinburgh University Students' Association for their Divest and Reinvest Campaign.
This campaign spanned a decade, and was championed by a decade worth of officers. The campaign recognised that our universities are publicly funded institutions, and that their money should be used for the benefit of society, and of our planet. For a decade, students have been staging occupations, and taking direct action, to persuade their university to remove the millions of pounds they’d invested in fossil fuels. This year, campaigners won, and managed to negotiate with the university to stop this harmful practise – in a high profile win which gained widescale media coverage, a real victory for student campaigners.
The second Outstanding Achievement Award went to Aileen McColl of Students' Association of the University of the West of Scotland. Aileen has been a fixture in her students’ association for 30 years. Her nomination included quotes from past staff and officers, who spoke of her as a constant source of personal and professional support through difficult times. While her job involves co-ordinating officer diaries, her actual job sounds more like that of a shepherd – calling officers on the morning of big meetings to make sure they remember where they’re meant to be.
Dan Doyle from Edinburgh University Students' Association
The winner of the Staff Member of the Year Award for 2018 went to Dan Doyle of Edinburgh University Students' Association. Dan started making impact at EUSA as soon as he started, two years ago. When he arrived, only 5% of society office bearers had received any training. Within 6 months Dan had introduced new online training, reaching 80% of office bearers. Colleagues wrote of Dan’s work ethos, putting students first and aiming to engage students from more diverse backgrounds in societies. Dan’s efforts have helped EUSA’s student engagement reaching an all-time high.
The winner of the Student of the Year Award was Loren Gemmell from Ayrshire College Students' Association. In her transition to college, Loren has dramatically improved her academic and social independence. She uses her own experience to inspire others, encouraging quieter students to step out of their comfort zones and, in her words, "reach for the stars". Loren has started a lunch club to help with social skills and created a safe space for students to go. Her nomination described her zest for life as infectious. Loren is a regular volunteer, helping pull together Ayrshire College’s graduation, as well as promoting the free sanitary products work the students’ association has done.
Edinburgh College Students' Association
The College Students' Association of the Year went to Edinburgh College. ECSA continue to build on their work developing an evidence-lead representative structure. This year they’ve used digital and physical evidence gathering tools to affect change at a local and national level. By gathering statistics and students’ experiences, they’ve persuaded their college to review the support mechanisms in place for students, secured investment and prioritisation of work to support student mental health, and used their system to fight for those students who would otherwise fall through the cracks.
Heriot Watt University Students' Union
And finally, the winner of the University Students' Association of the Year was Heriot Watt University. This year, Heriot Watt Students’ Association continued to change the way they engage with students, putting what they do and why they do it at the centre of their planning. They listened to students concerns, and set about changing the universities procedures. Their work has secured personal tutor training, including mental health signposting, for academic staff. They’ve won a battle many of us can relate to, and secured microwaves on their campus, and their work as spanned continents and cultures by securing seats for students in Dubai and Malaysia campuses on key committees within the university.
Thanks very much to everyone who took the time to make such excellent submissions, and congratulations to everyone who was nominated. We can't wait to do it all again next year!