Sophia27 June 2015 14:22
The end is nigh…
My time as Vice President Education is almost up, so here is my final blog. Let me take you through what I have achieved:
Academic representation system
The rep system is why I ran for this role. It is something I am really passionate about and a cause I will always have time for. This team of 400 reps have really done well this year. As individuals they have worked very hard to represent their peers and drive for change and as a team they have done a lot to raise awareness of the rep system and why it is so important.
The rungs of the team I have been working most closely with are the Faculty Officers, Academic Presidents and Vice Presidents. This team of 45 of reps have really supported each other; the camaraderie which has developed between them has been instrumental to them achieving their goals and has been beautiful to watch as their team leader.
In an attempt to adapt our representative structures to mirror the shape of the faculty, various roles have been created:
Senior reps in Medicine: these roles support and deputise for the faculty officer as this role has no academic president to support it.
Academic Vice Presidents in Social Sciences: this will ensure that each department is effectively represented.
And many more changes to make the system to make it as representative as possible…
That brings me on nicely to a new committee structure which is being created to improve PGR representation. So far a rough draft of each potential role has been drawn up, the next step is to bring these role descriptors to as many PGR students as possible and get their input and feedback. We are hoping the roles will work to develop communication with PGRs, will improve PGR representation in university meetings, will help build a social and academic community among PGRs and much much more. The elections for these roles will take place in November provided PGRs have been sufficiently consulted and are satisfied with the committee structure.
This year the University of Southampton went through a Higher Education Review. That means that the Quality Assurance Agency was tasked with evaluating a range of different criteria relevant to the student experience, such as the accuracy of information provided to students and the range of learning opportunities that we are offered. During the first eight months of my role I was heavily involved in all of the preparation for the review and the collation of evidence for the review team. I was the Lead Student Representative, which involved: writing a Student Written Submission (a lengthy, detailed document explaining the way students feel about various parts of their academic experience), gathering additional evidence requested by QAA and gathering dozens of students for the HER review team to meet with and talk to.
The long and short of it is that the University did really well. We were recognised for the Curriculum Innovation modules that we offer and the student champion schemes, such as Ichamps and feedback champs. As a result, the University has committed to embedding these schemes so more students can benefit from these programmes.
Additional course costs
Another big change which will occur as a result of the QAA review is that all additional course costs will now be published as of October 2015. This change is going to have a massive impact on prospective and current students. For the first time students will be able to see exactly how much they are expected to pay for their programme and it will mean that staff at the University will be able to see all the costs that students are faced with, and have to reassess whether these costs are reasonable.
Stress Less Fest
This was a whole range of activities and services available to students during the winter and summer exam period.
This year’s summer Stress Less Fest included a Petting Zoo, an opportunity to pet the puppies as well as loads of other fun things to do. This programme of events also advertised opportunities to develop various study and revision skills and hosted the Result Hub.
The Results Hub was the final part of Stress Less Fest; it provided you with a one-stop-shop to all your post-exam needs. It gave you advice and supported you if your exams results were not what you expected. There were specially trained SUSU Peer Supporters on hand as well as the SUSU Advice Centre advisers, representatives from Enabling Services and the Visas and Immigration Student Advice Service. We aimed to make sure you were informed as to your options and understood when an appeal is an appropriate form of action.
Some final thank you’s…
And….What is a final blog without a few soppy goodbyes and thank yous?
I would like to say thank you to the University staff that I have worked closely with this year, through the HER and to achieve my goals. Thank you to the SUSU staff who have supported and encouraged me to achieve great things this year. I want to say a special thank you to the unnamed, unrecognised, hidden gems at SUSU who make students’ dreams realities, the coordinators that go unnamed but by no means forgotten. The Advice Centre will always be the heart and soul of SUSU, it persistently works hard to support and represent students. Thank you to our advisors and everyone who ran the Advice Centre for all of your hard work this year. I have met some truly inspiring people this year; I really hope to find colleagues that I admire quite so much in the next steps in my career.
I will really miss my team this year. The academic reps have been incredible. Their sheer enthusiasm and drive has been fantastic from the word go and I am so proud of them all. They have put so many hours in and achieved so much, thank you for being such a dream to work with. I feel really privileged to have had a chance to work with such determined individuals and such a strong team; working so closely with such a wide variety of students has been so rewarding. They are everything I could have ever wanted or hoped for in a team and I am sure we will keep in touch.
This has been the best year of my life so far and I feel that it has equipped me really well for the future. I thoroughly encourage anyone who may be considering to run to become a sabbatical officer JUST DO IT, it is a truly amazing experience.
Thank you for such a great year.