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Getting students on board: a cross-sector collaboration

Brodie, Jackie; Weaver, Miles



Debbie Tolson

Nicola Watchman Smith

Dawne Irving-Bell


This chapter discusses the development and impact of Edinburgh Napier’s intervention on young governance leaders in Scotland. Traditionally, UK board trustees have been ‘male and stale’ with an average age of a trustee being 61. In 2013, Dr Miles Weaver and Dr Jackie Brodie began offering a hands-on experiential programme called Get on Board to Edinburgh Napier University students to address this documented lack of diversity and empower up to 20 students a year to transform board representation in their local community (Brodie and Weaver, 2017). The pilot was recognised in 2015 as a Herald Award Winner for its creative and innovative approach to enhancing student learning with an impact on supporting growing social capital in the community. In 2017, following the growing success of the programme, the Charity Board Initiative (CBI) was launched with corporate partners Anderson Strathern (legal), Santander (banking) and RSM (accountancy) and Inspiring Scotland
(charity partners). This larger training initiative uses the Edinburgh Napier-developed Get on Board competency framework to support Scottish-based students’ knowledge, skillsets and attitudes around trusteeship and supporting them to become young professionals in governance roles. At the same time, the collaborators from RSM, Santander, Anderson Strathern and Inspiring Scotland are deeply connected to third sector organisations, being able to provide matching opportunities and networking far beyond what was possible through Edinburgh Napier University’s initial programme. The CBI pilot initially engaged with three universities in Edinburgh, with 136 students taking part in taster experiences and progressing through the Bronze-Silver-Gold competency pathways. In 2018/19, the CBI was extended across six Scottish universities, engaging 218 students, with more than 30 charities directly benefiting. The charity board initiative is unique – the first programme to engage students as trustees in Scotland using a competency pathway and highlights the third sector’s value for employability. The collaborative team was awarded a CATE in 2020 on the first application attempt.

Online Publication Date Nov 1, 2021
Publication Date Nov 1, 2021
Deposit Date Oct 30, 2021
Publisher Higher Education Academy
Pages 22-32
Book Title The CATE Collection: Together in Collaborative Educational Leadership
ISBN 978-1-9163593-6-9
Keywords cross-sector collaboration, trustees, students, board governance
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