Edinburgh Napier students get a feel for being charity trustees

Edinburgh Napier students get a taster of what its like to sit on charity boards with the help of support from Santander and RSM 

Students at Edinburgh Napier have been given a taster of what it’s like to take up trustee positions on charity boards, thanks to a partnership initiative between the university and Santander and RSM.
Seventy students took part in the Trustee Week event at the Craiglockhart campus, where they heard presentations and discussed volunteering opportunities with Scottish SPCA, National Trust Scotland, Chest Heart & Stroke, Inspiring Scotland, Edinburgh Fringe, Blackwood and Carr Gomm.
The event, which was organised by university Get on Board (GOB) team Dr Miles Weaver and Dr Jackie Brodie, also heard from Angus Hannah, who told how GOB boosted his skills set, prepared him for the world of work and led to a role as vice chair of the Voluntary Action Fund.
The GOB programme was launched to help place Edinburgh Napier students on the boards of local charities, voluntary sector organisations or public bodies, where they could network with professionals and help make decisions which impact on the community.
The university team has now adapted the training model from the programme to produce a GOB ‘competency pathway’ which can be used by any Scottish university which opts into the initiative.
A presentation by Dr Miles Weaver showed how the competency pathway was developed from research by the GOB team about the benefits the course has given students by preparing them to be ‘board-ready’.
The development of the pathway has also received support from Janet Hamblin of RSM, Arthur Lawrence of Santander and Julie Hutchinson of Standard Life Wealth.
The GOB competency pathway offers three levels of experience for the students. Bronze level sees students supported to a foundation level of knowledge, skills and mindset in board governance. The Bronze award is achieved by completing a workbook, authored by the university GOB team for use on the initiative, and undertaking a reflective discussion.
Next comes the Silver level of the training experience, where students engage in 14 hours of professional development and produce a logbook of activities chosen from a listing of those offered in board governance in Scotland.
Students then progress to the Gold level of the pathway, which includes professional recognition of a board-level role over a sustained period.
Another benefit of undertaking the GOB pathway is the option to pursue further accreditation through the Association of Corporate Governance Practitioners (ACGP), a governance professional body.
Dr Brodie, a senior lecturer in Entrepreneurship, said: “It is interesting to note that of the 1800 voluntary sector organisations across Edinburgh, an estimated 90 per cent of voluntary organisations in the city have vacancies for trustees.
“By supporting our students to take up those vacant positions, we are supporting capacity building, and the development of change makers in the community who can bring their unique skills set to address some of the key issues our society faces.
“Linked to Edinburgh Napier’s 2020 strategy, the GOB competency pathway is also helping to prepare students to be more resilient and responsible citizens able to take on challenging, but highly rewarding roles, such as social entrepreneurs and charity leaders in the third sector.”
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