Essentially, the role of the Student Trustee on the Board is the same as that of the other types of trustee; overall legal responsibility for the CSA. The only differences are the manner of their appointment, and, unlike Officer Trustees, they have no role on the CSA Executive Committees.
Therefore, the Student Trustee role may be defined as representing the needs, wishes and opinions of students to the Board, whilst being able to take a wide and long‑term view independent of immediate operations. In some ways they bridge the gap between Officer and External Trustees.
Trustees have, and must accept, ultimate responsibility for directing the affairs of the CSA, ensuring that it is solvent and well-run, and delivering the charitable outcomes for the benefit of the members. These are legal and financial responsibilities.
Theoretically, all charity trustees are financially liable for the decisions they make. However, if this was truly the case, there would be no-one willing to act as a charity trustee. The CSA insures its Trustees so that they are not personally liable provided decisions are made in good faith and they do not knowingly act illegally.
The nature of the role suggests that a Student Trustee would ideally be a student who prefers to take a long view of the CSA and is happiest working on developmental issues, rather than frontline campaigning or representation. However, no-one should feel excluded, unless they are disqualified by law from being a charity trustee (see below).
The Student Trustee positions are not sabbatical roles; that is, they continue to work full‑time on their academic studies whilst contributing to the CSA in their spare time. Student Trustees are not paid, although reasonable and genuine expenses can be reimbursed or paid by the CSA.
The commitment required of a Student Trustee is less than that of an Officer Trustee or other Executive Officer. The CSA Board of Trustees meets four times a year, usually for about two hours at a time. These meetings take place in the evenings to allow External Trustees to attend. There are usually papers to be read before meetings, but this can be done as convenient. In addition, all Trustees are expected to attend the AGM.
Due to the long‑term nature of the duties, and as long as they remain a registered student, a Student Trustee is elected for two years and can serve for up to two terms, that is, four years in total. However, there is nothing to stop a Student Trustee from serving for just one year if they so wish.
Further information on the boards and the duties of trustees is available from the Charity Commission website, and in particular the “Essential Trustee” Booklet.