Author: Tom Bond, Postgraduate Research Administrator, Faculty of Engineering & Design
The AUA was pleased to host Lucy Woodcock, SU President and Amy Young, Representation & Engagement Manager, who presented a whirlwind tour of this year’s Top 10 student issues to be dealt with.
This was a great opportunity for staff from across the university to be exposed to problems faced daily, monthly and yearly by our students, and gives us a great insight into the work going on behind the scenes conducted by the SU in to tackling them.
The top 10 issues for 2016/7 are:
• Campaign for sustainable student recruitment policies in relation to housing availability
This is a hot topic, with increasing student numbers and a shifting focus to postgraduates who notoriously struggle more than the undergraduate population to secure affordable accommodation.
Bath is a small town and simply can’t offer the same level of housing stock that larger cities do, but the SU and University are committed to battling the ongoing problem of available housing.
• Make it easier for students to locate available study space
Space is a premium on campus, and the SU are currently working on a plan to have an app in place by the start of 2017/8 academic year that will allow students to easily locate available working spaces/rooms across campus – improving on the current room booking system that is more staff-orientated.
• Improve University and Students’ Union provision for students outside of term time
Efforts are being made to improve provisions for students who remain on campus outside of term-time, including: shop/eatery opening hours, the development of a programme of events over summer/Christmas, and ensuring vital services such as Student Counselling remain at optimum performance during these periods.
• Secure a physical expansion of the gym
The SU has already scored a big win here, securing a £3.5m investment into a new gym facility that will improve provision of sports/exercise classes, as well as providing more equipment and exercise stations on top of the already impressive STV facilities currently available.
There will be an effort to give priority to student memberships over those of the general public to ensure satisfaction of the student body.
• Ensure that students receive constructive assessment feedback that helps them learn
We need to ensure that assessment feedback received by students is constructive, and allows them to build and improve on their work as a result.
The SU is working closely with the Centre for Learning & Teaching to ensure current best practice is spread across the university to make this happen.
• Campaign for the curricula to reflect the diversity of the student body
The student body on campus is hugely diverse, with over 100 nationalities represented. It’s paramount that this is reflected in the University’s curricula.
It is hoped that the University could use this work as part of a bid for the Race Equality Charter Mark .
• Reduce waste across campus
The University is making concerted efforts to improve on waste disposal across campus, an excellent example being the Leave No Trace campaign that encourages using re-usable cups at coffee/tea vendors across campus by offering discounts to those who do.
There is a growing issue of homelessness in Bath, and Lucy rightly presented this as an opportunity to put food waste on campus to good use – there is too much perfectly good, freshly made food that is simply thrown away at the end of each day.
• Ensure the personal tutoring system is effective for students and staff
The personal tutoring system needs to work for both staff and students, and in collaboration with the Senior Tutors Forum, the SU is focused on identifying best practice from across the institution, and also areas for improvement.
• Tackle postgraduate isolation
There is an evident lack of community among some postgraduates at the university, and the SU is working hard to identify the key problems and address then.
The expectations of postgraduates when they arrive are being reviewed, in relation to events, societies and other provisions that otherwise work well for the undergraduate population, with a view to improving/providing additional provisions for the postgraduate population.
For the first time this year there has been a dedicated Postgraduate Officer appointed (Adam Kearns), tasked with the responsibility of ensuring a great postgraduate student experience.
• Secure an extension of the Library
Like the gym, the SU are also working on a plan to extend the current space available in the library. An area of land to the North of the library has been identified for a possible expansion sight, which would offer perhaps a new lecture theatre as well as more working/computer space.
A suggestion has also been put forward to improve the e-journal facilities, and reduce the number of paper journals on level 1, freeing up space for more work stations.
Lucy would like plans for this provision secured by the end of her presidency.