2019/20 Education Officer, Phoebe Crook's Manifesto Review
This past academic year has certainly been challenging in many ways. We’ve said goodbye to nearly half of our SU staff team as they moved onto pastures new including our CEO; Student Voice Manager; Student Voice Coordinator; Team Support Manager; Events Manager; Commercial Services Coordinator; and Marketing and Student Engagement Manager. Whilst we’ve now got some great new colleagues filling many of these positions, many SU Staff and FTOs had to take on lots of extra work and responsibilities during the staff changeover to ensure we could continue to deliver a life-enhancing student experience to our members. Then of course, we faced the global disruption of Covid-19.
Both myself and all of your 2019/2020 FTOs have worked hard to deliver on our manifesto points. Whilst we haven’t always been able to fulfil them entirely, we’ve worked creatively and innovatively to ensure we could begin to generate the changes promised in our manifestos despite the rapidly changing environment we’ve been working in over the last year. So, here’s my final update on my 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 manifestos below...
2019/2020 Education Officer Manifesto
Lobby for clearer guidance on academic regulations
This is something I’ve been super passionate about this year and I’ve been fortunate enough to be in many spaces, committees and meetings where I have been able to articulate the pressing need for more accessible policies and regulations. In October 2019 I ran a ‘Study Smart’ campaign to improve awareness of the academic regulations among students; you can find out more information about it here.
I’ve also been working with the university’s Academic Development Unit to start a review of the information available on MyGlos and MyGlos Help. I’ve created a series of scenarios to enable student representatives to provide feedback about the accessibility of the information during the next academic year. The university’s Dean for Academic Development, David James, has agreed that the university will use this feedback to make improvements to the information available on these sites...#win!
Campaign for earlier release of timetables
The university is acutely aware of the problems that releasing timetables late can create for many of our students (and I’ve not let them forget it!). This year, the university launched a project to review the delivery of optional modules and the impact this has on student timetables.
Understandably, Covid-19 has caused some disruption to this project, but they have begun to implement the first stage. For example, you may have noticed that optional module choices for 2020/2021 haven’t yet opened. This is because the university hopes to open this process in August alongside course timetables (covid-dependent).
This will enable students to make more informed choices about their optional module choices as most students will have access to their grades and progression outcomes for the 2019/2020 academic year and be able to see the proposed timetable for when the optional modules will be running in 2020/2021. This is just a small part of the project to bring the release of reliable, stable timetables earlier for students and is a great step in the right direction. I can’t wait to see how this project progresses in the future!
Implement course-specific student-led mentoring schemes
Turns out this is a particularly tricky manifesto point to fulfil based on the timing of the FTO officer year and standard UoG academic year; by the time FTOs are in post, most students have finished university for the summer so it’s difficult to recruit student mentors for the year ahead! I had hoped that this wouldn’t be such an issue as a returning FTO for the 2019/2020 academic year, but unfortunately this project was hugely impacted by the disruption from staff changeover and Covid-19.
Your Welfare Officer, Gemma Mainwaring, and I started work towards a student-led mentoring scheme for students arriving at UoG through the UCAS Clearing process but were unable to recruit enough student mentors in time to make the scheme viable. Despite being unable to progress the scheme this year, we’ve learnt loads about student engagement, university structures and mentoring schemes that we’re excited to pass on to your new 2020/2021 Welfare Officer, Asha Sutton, to help build her plans for a Course Buddy System over the next year.
2018/2019 Welfare Officer Manifesto
Student-led mentoring for freshers: ‘mummies and daddies at UoG’
As you may have read above, this is a particularly challenging manifesto point for FTOs due to the timing of their year in office in comparison to the standard UoG academic year; something I’ve only latterly realised! However, I made a great start to this by launching a student-led mentoring scheme for new Nursing students in the School of Health and Social Care. I learnt loads from this experience and have used this to inform the knowledge I’ve passed on to your new 2020/2021 SU Welfare Officer, Asha Sutton.
Campaign to increase university spending on Student Services
When I wrote this manifesto, I had no idea that the university was about to embark on a programme of cost savings. But when I started as Welfare Officer, I quickly realised that this manifesto point was going to be pretty difficult to fulfil! Instead of ignoring it completely, I re-focused my attention to ensuring that any cost savings to Student Services were minimised. As a result, the SU successfully lobbied the university and worked closely with them to ensure the amazing Student Achievement Team remained a key part of UoG’s Student Services departments and maintain capacity in the Student Helpzones...#win
Room bookings when and where you need them
After a number of great conversations with the university’s timetabling manager, Helen Wills, it was clear that we were both working towards a similar goal with this; to get room bookings opened up to students using an online system. Technical issues (and of course Covid-19) have delayed the opening of online bookings to students, but the university has launched a QR code pilot in the Business School. These new QR codes outside each room can be scanned by students, staff and visitors via their smartphone, enabling them to instantly view the room’s timetable of bookings. These have replaced the old paper timetables that had to be printed and replaced each week, meaning that room bookings can be updated in real-time and if successful, the QR codes will be rolled out across all campuses as soon as possible.