Do Sabbs Actually do Anything? – VP Academic Affairs

sashaIt’s halfway through what has been an extremely exciting term in office so far, and so this week, the Sabbatical team are writing mid-term reports to update you with what we’ve been up to and the sorts of things we’ve been dealing with, as well as the sorts of plans we have for the remaining 6 months.

You can also read up on my regular reports to Union Council and goals here, as well as my manifesto here, and remember, in a month’s time, we’ll be electing the next Sabbatical team – so if you have any questions about our roles – get in touch!

Also, next Tuesday and Wednesday at 5pm, we’re running a Twitter Q&A session – just use #askSUSUsabbs and join the discussion! – The Sabbatical Team! 

 VP Academic Affairs

For the past 18 months, the University has been undergoing an Institutional Review – a process that takes place every 6 years or so, and is a review that is organised by the Quality Assurance Agency, a Government organisation that looks at the quality of Universities from top to bottom. I’ve been heavily involved in the process leading up to the Review, as well as the process itself, and safe to say, it’s been a long 18 months, let alone these past 6 when the Review team have been coming to Southampton.

As a result, the University’s focus clearly shifted towards ensuring it’s standards are high and that they come out strongly, for which we get the results soon, as opposed to seeking new projects to radically improve the student experience – but that will become the focus for the next 6 months, for sure (see Next Steps below). With that in mind, a lot of the work I have been doing has been looking within SUSU and our representation structures, to make sure that your first point of contact for reporting issues is as strong as possible:


  • Elected 465 representatives across all levels, up 20% from last year
  • Revamped the training day provided to Faculty Officers and Academic Presidents
  • Developed a Course Rep Training Academy, a series of 8 training sessions focusing on different skills (delivering over 40 hours so far to all representatives)
  • Introduced a Report form for Course Reps to feed issues into SUSU earlier (150+ issues reported so far)
  • Introduced an online list of Course Reps (details may or may not be accurate! Work in practice!)

The University recently appointed a new Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education) and a new Academic Registrar – both of whom I have been having plenty of initial discussions about the future steps of the University’s experience, as well as the behind-the-scenes support that students need. As well as this, I have been working various University departments on enhancing the student experience:

University projects

  • Took a lead in designing the Student Charter and worked on a “You Said, We Did” campaign to highlight significant changes made by the University
  • Worked with iSolutions and the Communications department on developing the layout of SUSSED
  • Continued striving for technological enhancements through online Module Evaluation, online assessment, and video-recorded lectures (which have greatly increased in number this year)
  • Developed a new proof-reading policy for exams and begun a review of how we assess students
  • Worked on developing a new Employability strategy with the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Careers Destinations

And finally, I’ve been planning the work that is to come in the next 6 months. As you might imagine, a lot of my work requires lobbying, consulting, negotiation, and most of all, buy-in from the University to have change implemented, so hopefully in the next few months, some lovely things will fall out of it as a result:

Next Steps

  • Establishing a new network for sharing best practice across the University
  • Running the Excellence in Teaching Awards (nominations open 2nd March!)
  • Conducting 3 research projects looking into personal tutors, academic integrity, and study support
  • Approving a new, much improved, student representation policy, with clear guidance for University staff
  • Developing an Education Zone strategy for SUSU, as well as a University strategy

Alongside the inevitable Petting Zoo returning in the summer, I’m really excited about the prospects of the Teaching Awards (and so are most of you, it seems!) and the Education Zone strategy – something which I will be blogging about at the start of February, so keep your eyes peeled!

If you have any questions/ comments, or are interested in knowing more about the work I’ve done or the position generally – please leave your comments below or email me at


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2 Comments on "Do Sabbs Actually do Anything? – VP Academic Affairs"

  1. Sasha
    21/01/2013 at 10:33 am Permalink

    *lightly trolls*


  1. [...]  Sasha Watson, Academic Affairs Report word count: 621 TL;DR Summary: VP Academic Affairs is the sabb position [...]

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