CEO Blog | The New SU Plan

The direction of change within the Higher Education sector is more unpredictable now than it ever has been; and the pace of change at its most rapid of all time. It is therefore vital that the Students’ Union develops a strategic purpose and direction that is focussed on future stability and consistency, whilst retaining flexibility to adapt to changing needs and support requirements of the students at York St John University.

Following significant quantitative research including an all student survey which saw 824 completions, 14% of the student body, and external and university stakeholder surveys, drafts of the new YSJSU Strategic Plan 2017 and beyond were produced and feedback has been received and considered.

Throughout February 2017 the Students’ Union Team in partnership with colleagues from the University then held the following focus groups with students:

  • Personal Wellbeing (Mon 6th Feb)
  • Life After University (Weds 8th Feb)
  • Inclusivity & Diversity (Weds 8th Feb)
  • Student Experience (Mon 13th Feb)
  • International Students’ (Weds 15th Feb)
  • Post Grad, Commuting & Mature Students’ (Weds 15th Feb)

Significant desk research has also been conducted, analysing and reading the strategic plans of other Students’ Unions and also the NUS Project 100 outcomes.

Finally, much consideration has also been given to the language of the plan to ensure it is relevant to the most important of the Students’ Unions stakeholders – the students of York St John University.

We now feel that we are at a point to propose the final draft of the future Students’ Union strategic plan.


Our Future Vision and Purpose

“Supporting York St John students to grow, succeed, and have a great time whilst at University”


Values Statement

At all times we expect our staff and activities to be INCLUSIVE to all and ensure that we do not offend or isolate anyone; we will strive to be REPRESENTATIVE of the York St John body and will incorporate a diversity analysis into all our activities where practicable. We will be ENGAGING with students to make sure we are in touch and listening to them to ensure we can be SUPPORTIVE throughout their journey at University. Finally, we are PASSIONATE about what we do in making a positive impact, and will make sure both the Students’ Union team and students are having FUN and enjoying what we do.


Leading Strategic Themes

The proposed new strategic plan features four headline leading themes. These are the key aspects and priority areas that the Student’s Union will direct resource and energy towards, and they are also reflective of our charitable objectives. These four headline leading themes are detailed below and are written intentionally to be directed at our most important stakeholders, the students of York St John University.

YOUR STUDENT LIFE – Supporting your wellbeing including transition to University, tackling loneliness, financial matters, and promoting positive wellbeing. Key objectives within this theme are:

  1. Helping you to settle into University life
  2. Creating opportunities for you to meet like-minded people
  3. Providing activities to support positive mental and physical health and wellbeing

YOUR VIEWS – Ensuring there are spaces to allow you to express your views, share your experiences and enable the Students’ Union to be an independent advocate for you. Key objectives within this theme are:

  1. Representing the views of students to the University
  2. Driving positive change to continually improve your student experience

YOUR STUDIES – Ensuring you receive a quality academic experience, have access to any support you may require, and are a partner in your education. Key objectives within this theme are:

  1. Creating mechanisms for you to discuss your academic experience
  2. Working in partnership with the University to support the delivery of your high quality academic programme

LIFE AFTER UNIVERSITY – Supporting you to be prepared for life after graduation and ready for your career or further study, and to become a global citizen and alumni of York St John University. Key objectives within this theme are:

  1. Promote opportunities for your personal and professional development
  2. Support you in becoming a global citizen
  3. Ensure you are ready for work, and to achieve your ambitions in life
     

Strategic Enablers

The proposed new strategic plan features five key enabling themes. These are the key mechanisms and elements the Student’s Union will engage and utilise in order to support the delivery of our strategic plan. These five key enabling themes are detailed below.

OUR PEOPLE – Our people are a key asset in ensuring we live our core values and deliver our strategic ambitions. We will strive to hire talented people who we will continually develop to support their growth as individuals and professional careers.

OUR PARTNERSHIPS & COLLABORATIONS – In order for us to realise our ambitions the Students’ Union must continue to form and strengthen partnerships and collaborations with other organisations and groups. Our partnership with the University is key and we must remain a critical friend in order to act in the best interests of students.

OUR COMMUNICATIONS & DIGITAL FOOTPRINT – Ensuring students receive the right messages at the right time, before coming to University, whilst here, and once they are global citizens is vital. Being at the forefront of digital communication mediums and seeking to embrace new technologies for the benefit of students will enable us to deliver our work.

OUR FINANCE & RESOURCES – We must ensure we spend our members funds wisely, and consider future stability whilst flexibility to adapt to changing needs and support requirements. Providing a physical environment fit for purpose and the activities we organise is key.

OUR GOVERNANCE – The governance structures of the Students’ Union are critical to ensure thorough and purposeful decision making processes. Transparency is key to ensure that students and their priorities are at the heart of all the activities of the Students’ Union.
 

What’s next

Further work will now commence to gain a greater understanding of these leading and enabling themes and the key aspirational objectives within them. Alongside this the Students’ Union team will commence planning work for the 2017/18 academic year focussing campaigns, activities, projects and events around these themes.

The Students’ Union Trustee Board will then be presented with a final proposed new strategic plan for approval at the July Trustee Board meeting. At this stage the Students’ Union Trustee Board will also confirm key performance indicators to track the impact of the work of the Students’ Union and timescales on delivery of the new strategic plan.

Thoughts and comments are welcomed regarding this proposed strategic plan headlines and should be sent to Chris Bateman on c.bateman@yorksj.ac.uk

Thanks for reading,

Chris Bateman | Chief Executive | 1st March 2017