The £67,000 of the University’s block grant to the Queen Margaret Union, which had been suspended by the University Court’s Student Finance Sub-Committee, has been reinstated and will arrive with the £90,000 which is due this month.
The reversal of the original decision – which was made on the Tuesday of Freshers’ Week – comes after a period of negotiation and consultation with the University’s Sub-Committee on Student Finance, the QMU and the auditing firm Deloitte, resulting in the development of a Sustainability Plan.
The Plan attempts to set a strategic direction for the Union as it attempts to survive in a competitive market place. It is understood to include plans which could see a dramatic changes in the union as services are redesigned to meet changing student demands. The Strategic Plan also includes two years of budget projections, which – if correct – would see the QMU break even within a three year period. This follows descriptions from University meetings at the time of the suspension decision which described the QMU’s recent financial trajectory as problematic and “not sustainable.”
This consultation with the University has also been accompanied by outreach attempts by the QMU’s Board of Management. This included a special ‘state of the union’ issue of their in house magazine-cum-advert, qmunicate, sent a letter to alumni and a survey to all students – aimed at helping them better understand students expectations of the union.
President of the QMU, Colum Fraser, described the discussion in the last few months as “productive.” He went on to say:
“Representatives from the QMU submitted details on every aspect of the organisation and operation of the Union – along with details of recent, current and future challenges. We are, however, not back at square one, as several aspects of the submitted sustainability plan have helped us focus on the development of key areas and services within the building. It is likely that there will several significant changes to the QMU in the years to come, as we cannot stay in defence mode forever and expect this tactic alone to reverse recent trends.”