Scott is the founder of the association and leads on its day to day operation and development. To find out more about Scott's history within the Students' Union movement read on.
Who is Scott?
Scott Farmer has worked within the students’ union movement for 20+ years since he first enrolled on his Youth and Community Work Diploma in Higher Education at the University of the West of England in 1996.
It was at UWE that he fell in love with the students’ union and the wider movement and cites a crucial conversation with then National President, Douglas Trainer, about the power of collectivism and the future of UWE Students’ Union as part of NUS. Scott recalls that conversation vividly and initially started the conversation by accident, then finding out it was the NUS President and thinking ‘well if you are talking to me I’m going to ask you every question under the sun’. He did and left with fire and purpose. He did have fire in his belly before that conversation but little aim in terms of where to direct it.
What followed was two sabbatical years as Education Officer and President, also getting involved on the national stage with NUS’ Higher Education National Committee, working alongside Jim Gardner, then NUS VP Education, now CEO at University of Kent Students’ Union. It was in this role Scott was able to take the successful work undertaken at UWE for anonymous marking and place it back on a national stage.
Additionally, he joined the board of NUS Services as Board Director with responsibility for member liaison. A great grounding into the commercial purchasing consortium.
His greatest joy was found in the training room though as one of the National Student Learning Programme tutees under Tracy Forman, Jonathan Emmins and Jane Whalen. He recalls ‘it was a fabulous programme that effectively made thousands of student leaders trainers that would, in turn, take that training back to their Unions and improve the skills of tens of thousands of student leaders running activities day in, day out for their peers’. He was lucky enough to be a trainer on the programme just a few short years later joining with the likes of Jenny Wilmott, Ian Negus, Paul Chapman, to name but a few. He still uses all of those skills today, and it forms the basis of much of what of he does. Sometimes if it ain't broke, don’t fix it.
Scott recalls the time after being a sabbatical, and the enjoyment of that work, was hard. Going from conferences and campaigns to working towards his degree, and in the end running out of money, meaning he had to find a job. He was incredibly fortunate to work with Badminton Road Methodist Youth Centre and Staple Hill Youth Project full-time for 18 months working under the incredible tutelage of Maggie Curtis before re-joining the students’ union movement with the University of Surrey Students’ Union. Helping establish its first ever membership services department, establishing its key skills peer education programme and raising the participation in democracy and elections by over 60% in 3 years.
A short 6-month stint at Swansea Metropolitan Students’ Union as its first General Manager in 7 years ensued before joining NUS as Regional Officer for the South West in 2005. Scott enjoyed four years at NUS and recalls working with some of the most talented student officers both within NUS and in local students’ unions. The work was relentless but challenging, rewarding, and he felt as though he was contributing to some real debates about the way society was operating for students’ in the UK. Scott comments ‘I have never understood how any colleague could do more than four years working for NUS’ and it was most probably the culmination of burning the candle at each end that he decided it was time to go local again. There’s one particular day that he remembers when he was working as the Regional Organising Manager for London and the South, and interim Director at Wales, following Sian Taylor's appointment to CEO at University of South Wales Students’ Union. He recalls ‘I started this particular day in Bristol with a meeting, before heading to Bangor to support a project initiation meeting there and ended the day in Brighton, rallying the troops during a referendum campaign. The next day was in Plymouth and supporting activist training there as part of their new activist academy at the time. It’s fair to say I was tired’.
The biggest challenge but also the biggest resource in those days was being the font of knowledge to all the officers and staff members that phoned or emailed wanting the very best for their own members. He’s not sure he actually answered the detail of many of those questions, they usually got forwarded to one of the technical policy experts in HQ, but he was the one encouraging, motivating and listening when the difficulties hit.
Scott went on the be Director of Membership Services at the University of Bristol Students’ Union (now BristolSU) and established their membership services department and transformed their approach to representation and democratic engagement. He cites the only real conflict was who to support at Varsity fixtures and recalls the splinters from the inevitable fence sitting that occurred in public although his heart was always at UWE 😉.
His Chief Executive was Samantha Budd who comments that
“Scott’s training and facilitation skills are of a high calibre, which enable teams to think creatively, and explore complexity in a safe yet challenging environment. His understanding of the political context for elected officers, staff and key stakeholders contributes significantly to the organisation’s vision, mission, and values.
Scott was recruited to put in place an effective membership services operation which he successfully delivered, and he left Bristol SU with thriving and high-quality services that have won awards and external accreditation's.”
Scott left Bristol and set up TempleFarmer Ltd which enabled him to bring together the skills he utilised at NUS and across the movement to provide interim management, project management and facilitation to a number of charities and Students’ Union's including Exeter Guild, Swansea University Students’ Union, the University for the Creative Arts Students’ Union, Trinity Saint David Students’ Union and the University of Birmingham Guild of Students.
Scott enjoyed a brief stint at the Students’ Union at Bournemouth University with Alan James and the team before he returned to Exeter in a permanent move as its Deputy Chief Executive and enabled him to be reunited with his original SU mentor Joff Cooke as CE for the final 8 months before departing in April.
Scott will continue to freelance on various projects alongside developing the brand-new, Association for SU Professionals.