A look back on Semester #1

Hi folk and Happy New Year!

Welcome back to most of you and to those of you that are still on your Christmas holidays I envy you very much. Having been allowed the luxury of lie ins over the Christmas period I can’t tell you how hard it has been getting up these first three mornings back. How much I long for my comfy, warm bed on a cold, windy, dull morning such as today I can’t tell you.

Anyway, before we broke up for Christmas the other sabbatical officers and I decided to get together and note down all the things we (with the help of our great staff team) had done in the first semester (well, since we started on July 1st) and I thought I would pass this information on to all of you, to give you an idea of why we’re here and the kind of things we get up to on your behalf.

A comprehensive list of everything we could think of goes as follows:

–       Pontins – over the summer Colin (President) in particular was instrumental in the discussion taking place regarding the buses (making them free and the timetables) and the Internet provision there, fighting on behalf of the new first years who were going to be living there.

–       We have run a large campaign in the first semester to collate a list of all hidden fees or in other words, all costs a student incurs on top of their tuition fees, with a view to having them removed. Such costs include: kit, placement transport, books, field trips, printing etc etc. We have met with Directorate about this on two occasions now and are working with them to work out the best way of resolving some of these costs.

–       Billy (VP Faculty of Arts and Science) with the help of some our SU staff has successfully lobbied the University to provide Council Tax Exemption forms for students who are studying a Part-Time year on a Full-Time course i.e. resitting certain modules. Something the University was previously not doing and which in turn has put a significant amount of money back into students’ pockets.

–       Billy has also been working with the local council to implement an accreditation scheme which will vet the houses of those landlords who sign up, to ensure they meet a set standard of quality. This is being launched on 14th February, or for you lovebirds out there – Valentines Day. The long-term aim: obviously to improve the standard of student accommodation in Ormskirk.

–       There will also be very detailed accommodation content and advice on our website very shortly which will hopefully help students when selecting and living in student accommodation.

–       Natalie (VP Faculty Health & Social Care) has been looking at teaching and enhancing learning within the faculty – finding out what students say is good and what would be useful and sharing this across all areas within the Faculty.

–       We launched our new website in the last term and Colin has done lots of work on the site to make it as useful to students as possible. The site will hopefully provide much, much more over the coming months and years.

–       The first semester also saw the launch of our first ever radio station L:39 radio. It allows any students to get involved with broadcasting whether it be for enjoyment and entertainment or to increase their skills and employability.

–       The same can be said for our new online magazine ‘Vibe’ which will be launching soon and also our TV station which we hope to get underway with once the new magazine is up and running. Again these provide you the students with the chance to not only get involved with something fun and have your voice heard but also improve your employability.

–       In his role as SU President Colin is also a Governor. The University and its Vice Chancellor are accountable to the governors and they oversee what it does and the direction the University takes. In this capacity he has developed much stronger links with the governors and encouraged them to interact more with students which led to two of the governors attending our AGM.

–       At our AGM in November we had the Vice Chancellor of the University Dr John Cater present and answer questions. This was a great chance for students to talk directly to the person responsible for running the University and led to the Vice Chancellor agreeing to invest £50k into more books for the library.

–       The three Vice Presidents in particular have supported students on various panels whether they are Appeals, Disciplinary, Malpratice or Fitness for Practice, helping them prepare for and often accompanying them at the panel.

–       We were instrumental in securing more computers in the library.

–       We have also triggered a price review by Facilities Management in Sages.

–       We have linked some students’ courses (BA Advertising and BA Web Systems Development Development) with a real life client by involving them in our website and magazine development as part of their coursework with the aim of increasing their chances of employment when they graduate.

–       Working with Careers to identify pitfalls in various Edge Hill courses’ employability skills and trying to find resolutions.

–       Over the first semester we held a number of Part-Time Focus Groups within each faculty to identify the issues of Part-Time students and what we can do for them. Information from this has been collated and put into an NUS report and will formulate how we go about better engaging with and catering for our Part-Time students.

–       Natalie and I have also held several drop-in surgeries in our faculties as another way of interacting with students and ‘putting ourselves out there so to speak’. Much important information has been collected via this method.

–       I divulged a whole host of issues with the Dean of the Faculty of Education and Head of Secondary Education regarding the Secondary Mathematics course and made recommendations. These meetings led to a number of changes and improvements being made.

–       Raised problems with an unauthorised company who had accessed both the campus and certain lectures within the FoE to both the Pro Vice Chancellor Resources and various members of the FoE including the Dean. Ensured that procedures were put in place to prevent similar things happening in the future.

–       Worked alongside the Head of Professional Development within the FoE to make positive changes to some of the Undergraduate Non-QTS courses including adding an extra module option which has proven to be very popular.

–       Been involved in the re-validation of the Primary & Early Years courses highlighting what I felt was good and what could be improved or included.

–       Course Rep system – the SU has responsibility for this entire system and provides training for all course reps. In addition the VP’s in particular have been meeting with their respective course reps to discuss what they understand the role to be and how to go about making positive change.

–       All three VP’s have visited students at some of our various Outreach/Satellite Campuses (Hopwood, Shrewsbury, Manchester and Aintree) to ensure that the SU is representing ALL its students and not just those who study in Ormskirk.

–       The SU has been looking at security across the campus (lighting, CCTV, barriers) and will continue to try and improve these things in the next semester.

–       Natalie worked with the Faculty to redesign the module evaluation forms so that they were more user friendly and asked the really pivotal questions.

–       We held a Mental Health Awareness Day which took place in The Hub and had a number of different companies and charities attend.

–       We have worked with Admissions to look at the customer service provided when students are going through the admissions process and how it can be improved.

–       Issues have been raised and recommendations made regarding placements in both the FoH and the FoE.

–       Made a conscious effort to shift our image through our rebranding, the way we dress and even the way our offices are now set up to ensure we are representing all our students (mature and part-time included) and portray the fact that we are a professional organisation.

–       The SU also removed its Student Council in the first semester. The Student Council was originally set up to get students involved in what happens at the Union and the University itself. However in recent years it has been felt that Council was doing the opposite of this as it appeared to be only allowing a select few students to actually have any influence over what the SU did i.e. if you weren’t elected you couldn’t get involved. By removing it, the hope is that all students feel they can now get involved if they want to. If a student has an interest in the environment for example they don’t need to be elected to an ‘environment officer’ role, they can simply come in, tell us about it and get on with whatever it is they want to do.

–       I have planned to undertake both a Lipdub project and a semi-naked sports calendar this year too of which I hope both will get underway very soon.

–       We have been involved in research with Student Services to find out what students want from the campus over the next few years.

–       Of large importance is the fact that through our new sabbatical structure we have interacted and worked heavily with both the Faculty of Health & Social Care and the Faculty of Education. Both of which we have often neglected in the past.

–       We have made inroads to improve our relationship with the University College Union (UCU) and met with them less than a week before the ‘Day of Action’, meaning we were able to advise students on what was happening and what action they could take.

–       We have worked with IT Services to provide better wireless access on campus.

–       Colin has also been asked to submit an article on our Alternative Prospectus to ‘Spotlight’ NUS’ national magazine. This will inevitably raise the profile of Edge Hill University and encourage other SU’s to undertake similar projects.

–       Colin has been influential in linking Postgraduate research students with Solstice which provides further opportunities for them to enhance their learning.

–       We have also promoted and aided the student support groups which has resulted in increased numbers.

–       We are looking into the potential of having an external, professional body come in later this year and research what you the students want from the SU.

–       We have been involved in discussions regarding the buses and have relayed students’ concerns and problems with the current service. Hopefully students will begin to see some changes later this semester.

–       Dealt with issues raised by a Key Stage 2/3 cohort regarding a particular tutor.

–       Helped numerous students with placement problems particularly those with transport issues.

–       Managed to get a student on a PGCE course extra time to acquire their required enrolment documentation when otherwise they would have been withdrawn from the course.

–       Also helped introduce a placement training plan which will be used with delayed trainees within some areas of the FoE.

–       Helping students to understand how the placement system works within the FoE and manage students’ expectations.

–       We have supported students in internal investigations and helped them write statements.

–       Made a landlord change the standards of a house based on visits from both the SU and the Council.

–       Natalie highlighted concern about the FoH not allowing pregnant students on placements.

–       We have set up the first ever Edge Hill ‘University Challenge’ team.

–       Helped a sport student withdrawn from their course get back on.

–       Supported a student who was being sexually harassed on placement.

–       We have also seen a dramatic rise in the number of societies we have over the last semester and much of this is likely down to the fact we now have a dedicated Societies Officer in one our members of staff Tina. They are a great way to have fun and make new friends.

–       The SU was obviously responsible for setting up both Freshers Week and Freshers Fair and all four sabbatical officers were heavily involved in the running of these events.

–       We have been involved in the recruitment of next year’s Student Assistants (SA’s)

–       During Open Days both in evenings and on Saturdays we have been present to talk to prospective students and inform them of what they can expect from the SU if they decide to come to Edge Hill.

–       We have secured several students places in halls who originally missed out.

–       Daily we provide students with advice and guidance on various issues and queries whether this is in person, via email or phone or our many other outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, our website etc.

–       We have helped students to put their posters up across the numerous television screens around campus advertising various things.

–       Over the summer we helped some of the April intake nurses to get PDP folders having originally been told that they wouldn’t receive them.

–       Natalie and I have met with students looking at the prospect of setting up a ‘Fifa Tournament’ in The Hub and utilising the 126” screen in there.

I’m sure there are other things we have forgotten or couldn’t think of at the time  but I think this is probably enough for now. For those of you who have made it to this point a huge congratulations and thank you as I know it isn’t the shortest thing to read. Hopefully you can all find something that affects or relates to you in this extensive list and it gives you an idea of what we’ve been doing and will continue to work on.

Many thanks
Elliott
Vice President Faculty of Education

01695 657310
suvpeducation@edgehill.ac.uk
Twitter: @EHSUvpeducation
Facebook: Ehsu VPFacultyofEducation

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