This page gives an update on some of the campaigns and projects the Union is working on and will be regularly updated.
- Address discrepancies in academic feedback. This is already being addressed through GD’s work throughout the last 12 months, however I have been made aware while campaigning that it is still a problem in some areas. With the increased online provision however, it is being addressed.
- Set up group wellbeing sessions to create a less formal environment for student support.
- Protect our students on nights out by working with NUS to set up a ‘Good Night Out’ campaign.
- Understand the needs of students regarding online lectures and make the UOS online experience as good as possible. This is something that 2/3 year students will be really helpful for addressing, and passing on feedback to us, so we can make the transition to HE for our 1st years streamlined and less confusing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot, particularly how you will experience learning. Over the summer, I’ve been working closely with the university to make the UOS online experience is as good as possible. This is something that 2nd and 3rd year students have been really helpful for addressing, and passing on feedback to us, so we can make the transition to HE for our 1st years much less confusing. It has also changed my campaign priorities for the year – group wellbeing and a night out in town might not be the best idea when mass gatherings pose a significant health risk. I am still planning to introduce these campaigns, but I will need to make sure it is safe to do so first
Vice-President of Activities and Welfare Campaigns
- To offer free extra-curricular language course alongside the degree. This will give students even more skills and will make them more employable which is crucial. By having a language course, it can give them an advantage when applying for roles, especially abroad. In any industry, having the ability to talk in different languages is significantly important. We are currently gathering information to find out which languages students would like to learn. I also hope to offer a variety of degree related courses.
- To employ a qualified mental health advisor within the students' union. Students may feel more comfortable coming to the SU than the university as it isn't a pressured environment. I aim on having someone there to support students, especially in these unprecedented times. Additionally, it saves the SU from signposting student and they can deal with the situation in hand. Currently researching mental health and what other initiatives are in place. Regarding the launch of silvercloud, it is important to make students aware of that resource. Furthermore, I am working with the student services on wellbeing projects which I am really excited about!
- To offer more networking opportunities for schools, sports & campuses. This will allow students to network socially and academically. In addition to this, students will be able to participate in different sports. I believe that this will create a family feeling at the University of Suffolk. This will be challenging as mostly everything is online. Nonetheless, I see this as a great opportunity to interact with the cohort.
Voluntary opportunities - The aim of this was to encourage students to get involved with voluntary events. This was to offer non placement students an opportunity to build on their CV and experiences. In 2019 the university hosted a volunteer’s fair. Various organizations and charities from Suffolk were invited to showcase their opportunities for students.
Better quality events for different demographics and interests - 2018 Freshers saw a significant increase in events, including but not limited to drinking /non-drinking events, course rep event and so on. We co-organized Reclaim the Night, a protested for Ipswich Borough Council to adopt a Women’s safety charter. Through democratic voting, Summer ball also saw a huge change, including a new venue. To date, this is the first Summer ball to make a profit.
Shop on campus - After receiving a significant amount of feedback such as council and NSS, food provision was in high demand for students on Ipswich campus. The previous SU shop closed due to financial demands, therefore any future food facilities needed to be completely reformed. Some of the changes made were for example: self-service tills, card only (no cash handling), student staff operated and different providers. Once voted by students, this required a collective work force to implement with full support from the university executive and was in operation for September 2019.
Online Feedback tool - students are offered different ways to give feedback throughout the year, including course committee and module feedback. This approach unfortunately was not robust enough to respond to student demands in a timely manner. With support from the student experience group, SOFIA (Suffolk Online Feedback in Action) is now live and accessible for course reps all year round. This required a lot of change for staff and students, for example: changing various democratic procedures, additional employment of a student staff member, reshaping student representation, including a review of course rep job descriptions. The tool enables reps to fulfil their role effortlessly which has significantly improved the perception of student representation, particularly as reps receive a response from staff imminently. It is worth noting that thanks to sabbatical campaigns and projects, the SU now has more students employed than staff, helping us to achieve our student led KPI.
Improve feedback within a reduced time frame - Various staff have different approaches to feedback, meaning each student receives different levels of feedback. With the help of CELT (Centre of excellence for learning and teaching) there is now much more guidance for staff to be able to give feedback. Various feedback methods were piloted across the university, for example one school were piloting giving audio feedback which was very well received by students and will influence future practice. As a result of this campaign, with the support of the VC and quality department, feedback turn around is now within 3 working weeks. Again, improving the student experience.
24/7 Library – This election campaign was also featured numerous times in the NSS qualitative feedback. A proposal to fund a 24-hour library trial was approved by SLT. The library opening hours became 24/7 during exam and deadline periods. The trial is due to end May 2020 when the usage and impact will be reviewed.
Social Space - This election and re-election campaign gave a lot of credit to the importance of the student voice. The new student social space is an asset to the Students’ Union and has made a huge impact on the visibility of the SU. The space is extremely well used, and student feedback demonstrates the positive impact it has made on the student experience. The space also includes a kitchenette with a microwave for students to heat food. This has been a huge student win as this was a motion which was brought to student council and democratically voted on.
Keep Wednesday afternoons free – this campaign was inspired by a national student movement to get more participating in sport. The BUCS league, which many universities compete in, primarily takes place on a Wednesday. Many students are unable to take part due to clashes with lectures. Through the timetabling task at finish group, keeping Wednesday afternoons free became a priority and was successfully implemented in September 2019. From this success, Wildcard Wednesday was brought into the social sports program. This provides students with the opportunity to participate in a new activity every fortnight.
Silvercloud - This is a digital mental health platform which is used by other universities and the NHS. It uses cognitive behavioural therapy to deliver both self-help and coached programs to students who may need extra mental help support. A proposal for implementing this platform has recently been approved by SLT. This will benefit students as they will be able to access reliable, effective resources remotely and access coached support if needed. The focus on mental health across the institution is a growing topic for both students and staff. The silvercloud platform will also provide unlimited access for staff which will play a beneficial part in the universities approach as a whole to improve mental health across all departments.
Safe Suffolk Student - Safety on and off campus is something that many Students’ Unions will promote. This campaign took many angles to safety and prompted a number of networking opportunities, both internally and externally. The campaign originally took a holistic approach and offered students numerous self-care resources e.g. ‘Ask for Angelia’ a safe night out campaign, ‘Student Mind’, ‘Terrance Higgins Trust’ Sexual health, ‘Consent matters’ Student services campaign etc. This also provided the opportunity to work alongside Ipswich borough council to review the ‘Purple Flag’ accreditation. Through these channels it has been possible to provide appropriate student feedback regarding a ‘Safe night out’ in Ipswich as well as invite ‘Purple Flag’ to host stalls at our Freshers Fair. This campaign also provided a platform to host a ‘Self Care Fair’. The purpose of this was to provide an environment where students could network with the services available to them, both on and off campus. Again, this took a holistic approach and was attended by numerous internal and external services. Mindfulness sessions and Indian head massages were also available to students as part of promoting a self-care routine.