Jenny’s November Update
Jenny’s November Update
Hello everyone, what a semester it's been! The sabb world has been pretty manic and we've been working to ensure you’re supported in your learning and academia. I’m so glad to be representing you and working hard on provisions for your learning!
I’ve included below my main updates from September and October, please give it a read to make sure you’re updated on what the SU is doing for you. Any questions or queries please don’t hesitate to send me an email!
Zaki (Advice and Representation Coordinator) and I have worked incredibly hard on ensuring academic representation continues this year. Huge congratulations to those of you who are elected as Academic Reps and starting your journey on being a fantastic student representative. We currently have around 180 representatives which I am so pleased with given the current circumstances. We also have an Academic Rep Facebook group which has 104 members. Thank you to those of you who are engaged with the rep system. If anyone needs to know who their rep is, please send me or Zaki an email!
Recently we opened a Mentimeter survey to reps and students about their learning in Semester 1 which has had 252 participants, thank you so much to all involved!
A huge project I have been working on is ensuring students have access to their lectures asynchronously. I worked with the institution to ensure lectures were pre-recorded across campus so that you have access to them regardless of your current circumstances, Wi-Fi issues etc. The institution has since then agreed that any synchronous lectures should be recorded by academic staff, to help tackle Wi-Fi issues or students missing classes. This is an improvement from the start of the semester. I am now lobbying the institution to ensure any classes on campus have an online alternative.
If you have any feedback on your lectures or classes this year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! As we move into Semester 2, I am working on creating recommendations to the University on how to make engaging online content for students.
You may have noticed already, but I am pleased to announce we have got anonymous marking implemented at the institution!
This involved a great deal of work and took some time to get through the policies and principles at University committees, but I am pleased to have been a part of the process ensuring the benefits to students are represented and getting this pushed through. This was originally piloted in a couple of schools, and next Semester should hopefully be across the board of all courses!
In the past couple of weeks, I have met with the York University Students' Union (YUSU) Academic Officer, the Winchester Students' Union Vice President of Education & Welfare, the Bath Spa Students' Union Community & Welfare Officer, the Teesside Students' Union Education Officer, and my NUS Officer Group.
I also attended an Education Officer session with 10 other officers. This is a crucial part of my role networking with other Education Officers around the country to share ideas and best practice moving forwards. I find networking to be greatly beneficial allowing us to compare structures in other institutions and helping to shape ideas and arguments we can use within our institution.
Chairs of School
I’ve been working closely with our amazing Chairs of School on their projects for the year and organising 1-2-1’s with them. I have also guided some of the new Part-Time Officers through their new committee arrangements at the University, helping them with papers and introducing them to University members. We have Chairs of School sat on Academic Board, Quality & Standards, Learning and Teaching, and Athena SWAN.
It has been rewarding to support them in these roles, as it’s fantastic to see so many Officers representing across the board – well done team!!!
Working with Executive Board
Zaki and I have continued to work closely with the University Secretary and Academic Registrar surrounding students return to campus. We work closely on how the first semester has been running, and how to ease concerns of students surrounding their learning, during the pandemic. This contact is beneficial to be able to raise student concerns I receive.
Myself, Donna (Chief Executive Officer) and the Officer Team also meet with the University Secretary weekly to have regular communications. Executive Board and the Officer Team also meet once every 6 weeks.
Working with Accommodation
We have kept close contact with the Accommodation Team this year, to ensure students needs are met in accommodation services. Emma (President of Wellbeing & Diversity) and I are part of a working group, ensuring students in isolation are supported during this period. The University are supporting this with foodbank assistance, partnerships with Morrisons, wellbeing support, and sending activities to keep them occupied.
I have made recommendations to the Institution that if students request, they should be allowed to exit their accommodation contracts with no further fees, due to the Academic Year turning out to be quite different to the experience they thought they were applying for. This is currently just a recommendation from me, but I will keep you updated on any future progress.
Working with ILE
I have kept contact up with the Library services, working with them to produce study tips and advice to students on engaging with online learning, and ensuring accessibility support is available for students. Online learning does involve having to adapt the way you engage in your learning, and we want to ensure we are supporting you through this transition.
I have spent the past few weeks sitting on quite a number of University Committees such as Academic Board, Learning and Teaching, TEF Provider Working Group, and Quality & Standards. We have been working hard on amplifying the student voice on these committees. For example, Academic Board had 3 student representatives, this time last year, and we now have 6 student places. This helps ensure students are heard across the board. I have also helped recruit Part-Time Officers to represent on key University committees.
Recently we have started conversations on ensuring Postgraduates have a place to raise their feedback to the SU, after a motion being passed on this at Student Council. Myself and the Post Graduate and Mature Officer have begun planning running a forum this year for students to be able to attend and inform us of feedback they have in their Post Graduate degree. We hope this can be started during this Semester.
Student Voice during the Pandemic
Student Voice is at the heart of what the Students' Union does and has been taken on board by the Students’ Union Presidents and the wider Student Opportunities team. A return to campus survey was released to returning students in early August, and a similar survey was released to prospective students too, to better gauge their thoughts. The Presidential team have shared the results of these surveys with the University Executive. With regards to returning to campus, Zaki and I have held monthly meetings with University Secretary and Academic Registrar to discuss how the Students’ Union and University can collaborate on communication to students regarding a safe turn to campus during the first semester and ease the concerns of students who may feel some apprehensiveness.
This survey is in addition to other surveys and information gathering exercises the Students’ Union has run, including the online learning one which was released in April during the earlier stages of the pandemic.
As you can see, it has been a darn busy period. If you’ve made it to the end of this blog – I am impressed! I hope through this you can see the important work we do in the Students' Union to support you and never hesitate to get in contact with myself or the team with your feedback so we can help support your University Experience!