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Making Brunel Students Lives Better The Union of Brunel Students Impact Report 2010-11


Student OďŹƒcers 2010/11 Left to right: Priya Pallan (SU President), Avina Patel (VP Community Welfare), Sam Middlewood (VP Academic Representation), Joel Brasher-Jones (VP Student Activities).


Our Aspiration Every student is free to develop within and enjoy every aspect of University life.

Our Purpose To act for the benefit of Brunel Students at all times ensuring that our sustainable, membership led Union thrives as a result.

Contents Introduction from president and CEO 4 The voice of Brunel students 6 Campaigning 8 Engaging with our members 11 Projects and Events 14 Advice and Support 16 Strategy and governance 19 Social environment and retailing 20 Finance 22 Delivering excellence 23

Our Values Democracy, Excellence, Integrity, Equality, Empowerment.

Union of Brunel Students Kingston Lane Uxbridge Middlesex UB8 3PH 3

This year has seen one of the most challenging years for Students Unions. To succeed in the changing market place, successful Unions need to embrace change; I am confident that our impact report demonstrates the many ways that UBS has tackled these challenges head on. Some of the biggest changes we have seen this year have not necessarily been associated with the national headlines around student fees or indeed our need to register this year as a charity, but in the fundamental way in which the Union engages with its members and is led by the decisions they make. Our core function is to empower our members to make a change, through participation and through positively developing themselves to leave University with much more than just their academic education. This has been demonstrated through increased engagement with our students within our governance structures, a greater number of students participating in sports and societies and more students than ever standing in the elections. We have also seen a huge uptake of those getting involved in Radio Brunel and contributions to our student newspaper LeNurb, this year has also seen significant direct involvement in campaigning activities from all areas of our membership. One of our key responsibilities as the Students’ Union is to improve life at Brunel for our members, and we work in partnership across the University ensuring Brunel students interests are met and that their voice is heard and acted upon. We are very proud of being the University’s critical friend and have influenced, encouraged and lobbied at all levels, helping and supporting the University to improve in many areas including most notably the NSS and Universities Green League rankings. Whilst we are in this document reflecting upon the year past, our most important job now is to be looking to the future. We have invested heavily this year in understanding our member’s needs and developing policy to ensure we are meeting their ever evolving requirements and aspirations. The world is a constantly changing place and to continue being competitive institutions like Brunel University and organisations like the UBS must continue to adapt and change with the times. I am very proud to have presided over this initial year of change and I am confident that the UBS and the University will continue to improve to successfully meet the challenges ahead.

President - Priya Pallan 4

2010/2011 may well prove to be a pivitol year within Higher Education. It has certainly been a very challenging one for the Union of Brunel Students. The Browne review heralded a major change into the way that Higher Education is to be funded in the future. At the time of writing the full range of impacts is impossible to accurately predict. What I believe we can correctly predict is that in the future students expectations in relation to the overall quality of their individual student experience will have been radically changed. Unions and Universities both need to approach this (somewhat unclear) future as an opportunity. This is an opportunity to review what we provide, to identify what our students really need; and to deliver an experience that meets their aspirations and their expectations. How has UBS been preparing for this? We have concentrated on two areas. Firstly improving the engagement with today’s students, and secondly reviewing our provision for the future. We have seen increased numbers of students taking part in activities, clubs and societies, student representation and volunteering to name but a few. Our events have become bigger and better; starting with Fresher’s Fayre and working through One World Week, the Dance Show, the FACE festival and a very successful continental sports tour. We have been planning for the future by asking our students what’s important to them. We have engaged with external bodies to conduct the largest piece of market research ever undertaken with our membership. This we are currently reviewing and will be working with our major stakeholders to develop a medium term strategic plan for the Union. None of the above would be possible with the ongoing support of the University. We continue to work in partnership to improve the (Brunel) student experience. May I take this opportunity to thank the University for continuing to invest in both its students and its Students’ Union. The future is still somewhat uncertain, but we approach it with optimism.

CEO - Danny O’Sullivan 5

The voice of Brunel Students UBS works to ensure that the value of democracy is at the heart of everything we do- we are truly a student led organisation. Two central aspects of this are the student leadership of the four full time officers and 10 student chairs and the Student Representative system. We are proud to take responsibility for recruiting, training and supporting the 300+ student reps, from all levels of study in all schools. These Reps, often unsung ensure the student voice is heard in the development and improvement of their courses.

The Autumn 2010 Elections had a record

114% increase

in votes, and a 107% increase in candidates running, compared to Autumn 2009.

2,293 votes were cast in the Spring 2011 Elections.

We saw a 50% increase in candidates running, with all positions filled.


Changes to University funding announced this year has made the effective representation of the Student voice even more important.

Student Reps A new structure for our Student Representation Scheme has been presented and passed at the Annual Union Meeting. The additions to the current system ensure a better flow of information and support for students and reps. It will also provide a much clearer structural flow to the system and give strong definition to each of the roles within the system – allowing reps to have increased efficiency from the start. This is set to be implemented fully over a period of 2 years with September 2011 seeing the introduction of improvements. One initial step to ensure this is delivered in partnership with the University and in particular the relevant staff is our Summer Student Rep Symposium- where University staff will work with the Union to investigate best practice and develop a working model for future engagement.

Student Assembly Student Assembly is the primary decision-making body of the Union and is made up of various elected students as follows The Student Officers, The Standing Committee Chairs, The Working Group Chairs, 1 Senior Rep from each School of the University, 1 School Member from each School of the University, 20 Community Members from the student body at large. It is the role of Student Assembly to hold the Student Officers to account; create, develop and ratify Union Policy and create, debate and pass Union Motions. Meetings are open to all students but only the Student Assembly Members can vote on the decisions at them.


CAMPAIGNING Campaigning to make the lives and education of brunel students better is fundamental to the work of UBS. Our democratic structure ensures that UBS is responsive to its members views, and seeks to effectively communicate these with those in power- whether this be influencing the Student Experience here at Brunel, or engaging with local, regional and national politicians, and so seeking more broadbrush change.

The challenge of Fees The Coalition governments decision to fundamentally change the funding structure of Higher Education in England, shifting the balance of fiscal responsibility almost completely onto the recipient, was not received well by our members. In an attempt to effect change and speak out on behalf of future generations of students, UBS mobilised their largest ever delegation to a national demonstration to actively lobby against the proposals

Such campaigning can take many forms - well beyond the historical perception of confrontation - and so many of these influences are unrecorded.

Core campaigns run this year included Sexual Health and Guidance This campaign is now carried out throughout the year so as the reach the largest number of students. Alcohol and Drug awareness Designed to educate and engage with students prior to the Christmas break.


Stress less and Well Being Focused on the pre exam period. Excellent feedback was received from both the University and external companies expressing their interest to participate in future campaigns.

More than 400 Students attended the National Demonstration in London. This not only manifested itself in the peaceful participation in the national Demonstrations in London, but also lobbying local MPs including Business Secretary Vince Cable, a letter writing campaign to the students home MPs and significant well received local media engagement. Whilst Political momentum proved too much to overcome and the proposals became law, the campaign is one we can be proud of- and one which engaged many students in politics for the first time.

national Student Survey This year the University has received fantastic NSS results, this is a key example on how the University and UBS work in partnership for the best interest of our students. Raising 78 places in the NSS rankings of Universities to 45 out of 140 Higher Education Institutions . Our campaigns and policy changes have directly facilitated improvements with the University; our Feedback campaign in 2009 has reaped its award with “Assessment and Feedback� raising 107 places in the NSS this year. Our continued focus to improving student satisfaction is at the heart of what we do.

In the NSS Universities rankings we have moved up

78 places which is the best in the sector and for a mean score of 45th out of 140 Higher Education Institutions. Within the sector, for each key category we have made significant improvements. Teaching - up 49 places Assessment and feedback - up 107 places Academic Support - up 81 places Organisations and Management - up 36 places Learning Resources - up 33 places Personal development - up 51 places Overall Satisfaction - up 78 places

Personal Tutoring As identified in the UBS Student Written Submission of 2009, and continuing to score low on the National Student Survey both nationally and here at Brunel, the provision and quality of Personal tutoring is a live and major issue for our students. The main Academic campaign this year was a high profile awareness and information campaign throughout 2011, concentrating on the role of the Personal Tutor. Alongside this very public campaigning activity UBS has lead on the development of a cross- campus working party charged with proposing improvements and engagement with Personal tutoring. As a result this year the University will be implementing all of the recommendations of the working party and therefore raising the profile, priority and quality of personal tutoring across the campus .



Hard work reaps further rewards! Brunel continued to build on its sporting prowess with 27 Brunel students gaining international recognition and a further 34 gaining national recognition. In addition Brunel had two new achievements to celebrate. Women’s football represented Brunel and British Universities in the European University Championships held in Turkey in June. Freshman - Brunel’s Hip Hop dance team - gained first place in the Hip Hop Formation category at the World IDF Dance Championships held in Italy this summer.

Over 4,500

students are active members of clubs and societies The largest Society is the Islamic Society with 305 members The largest club is Dance with 205 members 5 clubs (Rugby League, Netball, Hockey, Ultimate Frisbee and Dance) provide students to assist with volunteering projects in the community. This included an outreach project to provide positive social engagement opportunities for young offenders

636 students

are members of club and society committees

7000 votes

Over were cast in electing committee members

ENGAGING WITH OUR MEMBERS Students come to university primarily to study and to gain their degree, however the experience they have whilst at Brunel outside their academic study contributes greatly to their development. UBS supports this experience through multiple routes; whether its Sports clubs and cultural societies, opportunities to contribute to the community, or simply enjoying their time at Brunel. This year has seen the number of sports clubs and mutual interest societies increase with more students wanting to join existing clubs or start ones of their own. With over 50 clubs and 80 societies now in existence a significant Number of the student population now take part in regular recreational activity. Many of these contribute to running them whether that is on committees , organising the kit, running events or drumming up additional members. This year saw the successful establishment of the Societies Guild, this ensured a representative and support structure to the leaders of all societies and brought a new community feel to the section which has increased its profile within the Brunel student body.


What our members said... Being with my friends and meeting new people is great

I have been able to reconnect with my faith Meeting people with similar interests

It has improved my social life As President of a society, it has taught me a lot about responsibility and developed me as a person

A good way to develop additional skills Gets me away from my work

Good to be part of a team Being part of a society has allowed me to open up and become more confident

Met people outside my degree course Source: RedBrick Research 2011


...their ideal Union 13

Projects and events One of the best ways for students to meet like minded people, learn a new skill or embrace student life outside of study is by getting involved in a society, club or volunteering project. One of the Unions biggest volunteering opportunities is to be one of the 160 contacts recruited to welcome new students into the Brunel community during their first week here. As in previous years one of the key focuses was to enhance the entertainments offer beyond those provided via our commercial venues giving numerous alternatives to the pub and club atmosphere. One of the key events during freshers week was the freshers fayre, which was opened by Councillor Dann and the Vice Chancellor and showcased the vast range of engagement opportunities we offer to Brunel students.

Freshers Fayre 2010 had 180 stalls, and over

7,000 attendees We invested more than £49,000 in Freshers Week. With the help of

10,000 hours of student volunteering, over 107 free events 14

RAG Many students realised their ambitions of giving something back to their communities by helping UBS to a record breaking year of fundraising. They helped to raise over £45,000 for various charities through a wide variety of activities and events from our annual rubber duck race on the river Pinn to a challenging expedition to the summit of Kilimanjaro.

“Conquering the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro in the beautiful country that is Tanzania was the most rewarding and eye opening experience of my life. The sheer wonders that you experience up that mountain are something words cannot describe, you just have to be there! Needless to say I am returning next year as team leader for Brunel to support the great charity, ChildReach International.” UBS Student Officer

Media Radio Brunel has been the true success story of student media last year. The station was completely rebuilt, rebranded and restructured. Over 100 students were involved, there were 25,000 hits on the new website www.radiobrunel.com and they were nominated for the guardian media awards. LeNurb was also redesigned, we introduced work experience and volunteering opportunities for 20 students and 12,000 copies were distributed.

Festival of Awareness and Creative Expression Held in the quad at the heart of campus, the week long festival is a celebration of culture, sport and creativity. Face offers numerous volunteering and performance opportunities for those who want to participate whilst enabling their fellow students to relax and celebrate at the end of the year.

Varsity This year saw Varsity (now an established event between Brunel and St Mary’s) hosted for the first time on a single campus. 13 competitively fought fixtures saw Brunel win by 3 points which was much closer than our victory the previous year.

One World Week One World Week is about bringing people together from diverse cultures and faiths to explore, understand, and learn about each other in fun, entertaining and enlightening ways. It’s about celebrating our community and creating awareness and integration through the varied activities and events. The Union works in partnership with the University to facilitate this student led event which relies heavily on the involvement and participation of club and society members.

Hillingdon Partnership Trust. The Union is continuing to build a fruitful working relationship with the Hillingdon Partnership Trust. Looking to the future this should add to the volunteering opportunities that will benefit Students, the University and the Local Community.


Advice and support The Advice and Representation Centre is UBS’ free, independent confidential service. It offers support and guidance on pastoral issues such as housing, sexual health, and finance together with support on institutional issues such as disciplinaries and appeals. Our team of professional advisors ensure a consistently high level of service in-house - whilst identifying when a student would be best served through a referral to more specialist help. In addition to the front facing “case management”- assisting when something has gone wrong - the ARC team work with the University to improve the Student Experience and deliver proactive information strategies to minimise negative experiences in a wide range of areas, they also work to monitor trends in the cases received and work with elected student officers in the development of social policy.

A new initiative last year was Money doctors, delivered in partnership with University Student Services it helped students become financially competent through intervention and education


reclaimed on behalf of students


7,711 Client Contacts 50/50 male female split

6% Other


Financial Issues


University Related

25% Housing

“I don’t think words can ever describe how grateful I am for your support and guidance. I truly think you are nothing but good people through and through and you do not get all the recognition you deserve!” “I am over it now and I couldn’t have done it without your support.I feel like my life has gained its normality back which is amazing.” Both ARC Clients



Registration with the Charities Commission In July 2011 The Union was registered as a charity with the charities commission. To strengthen the Union’s Governance the Union is actively recruiting 3 experienced independent trustees who will be able to offer additional guidance and support to our student trustees.

Review of the Union / University Memorandum of Understanding As required by the 1994 Education Act the Union and University have worked together to review the Memorandum of Understanding, This provides the framework for Partnership working between the Union and the University and underpins our relationship. This is not only to the benefit of both parties, but more importantly to the benefit of all Brunel Students.

STRATEGY and governance Influenced by the 2006 Charities Act, and the need to rationalise resources in direct proportion to our values, and our raison d’etre, UBS this year engaged on the biggest strategic conversation ever. Seeking to listen to a wide range of our stakeholders, and then consider how this information should shape the future of UBS, we have engaged external partners to ensure the resultant strategy is both responsive and realistic.

Strategic Planning The Union has been engaged on a major project which will deliver to the Union of Brunel Students an overall strategy that can shape decision-making for the coming years. The strategy is based on the latest information from market research with students and input from a range of other stakeholders. It will be focused enough to clarify priorities and will support future decision-making, while at the same time having the flexibility that allows future elected student officers to adapt it or to deliver their priorities within it. The Union has been supported through this process by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and RedBrick Research.

Sports Strategy Union officers worked alongside the Director of Sport and his colleagues to develop a sports strategy for Brunel students. Agreed by University Senate the main focus of the strategy is on increasing overall participation in sport, whilst at the same time retaining the high level of representative sport.

“81% of respondents rated the impact of UBS as positive” “The impact the Union is having is positive, long term and significant” RedBrick Research 2011


diversifying trade

Our web based clothing store allows students to purchase our exclusive branded University clothing, and is enhanced by our physical shop that we create during graduation week that allows our graduating students the opportunity to purchase clothing and branded memorabilia as part of their celebration.

The social environment and facilities on campus are to many an important element of their University life. The UBS provides quality pub, dining and nightclub facilities with ethics and safety at the heart of its events programming aiming to provide a range of events that has appeal across our diverse membership. These profitably run operations also contribute significantly to the income of the UBS, helping fund activities across our entire organisation.

Our facilities are also used as a weekly market, with this year seeing our traders portfolio increase from mainly fruit and veg to include a variety of other food stalls, clothing vendors and even a discount spectacle dispensary. This market is used and frequented by the entire Brunel community, staff and student alike and brings products and services to Brunel that are not and cannot be sourced through the on site convenience store.

Our commercial operation does not just lie within our entertainment venues, but covers a wide range of activity including a significant on-line presence. We work closely with external clients to promote their product or services to our members through our print and on-line media providing a valuable income stream to the Union and securing great value deals for our students.

“great place to meet friends” 20

“Have had many fun nights out there [Locos Bar], and I feel like its the heart of student nightlife...” Our online store is an area we have targeted for growth and in 2012 we hope to develop a designated Alumni service and an on site presence. Our alumni on line store will create an avenue for past students to keep alive a sense of their university experience and offer a new income opportunity for the UBS We will facilitate and encourage participation in the newly formed “social activity on campus working party” providing a conduit and facility for campus residents to influence, develop and shape their social experiences not just within our venues but elsewhere on and off campus.


Finance In addition to the block grant received from the University the Union endeavours to generate additional funds from its own trading activities. 2010/2011 has been a challenging year with students reflecting wider society and being more cautious with their discretionary spending. Trading operations saw a reduction in income during the first term, but remedial action taken in term two has seen the forecast deficit reduced from £50k to less than £20k. Further action has been taken which should see the Union return to a breakeven position for 2011/2012. During the year the Union has continued to focus on its core activities of representation and student engagement; with expenditure within these areas predicted to total £930k. The Unions annual audit takes place in October. The outcome will be reported to the Universities finance committee in November.

Any profits made from the Union’s commercial activity are ploughed back into student support and student services 22

3% Other





4.5% Marketing & Promotions

75.5% Block Grant



Welfare & Advice


Student Activities



9.5% Media & Comms


4.5% Freshers’ Week

Green Impact Green Impact Students’ Unions is designed to help unions improve their environmental performance and share best practice in the sector, it empowers individuals and departments to reduce their environmental impact by encouraging, rewarding and celebrating practical environmental improvements. This year UBS gained the Bronze Accreditation for the second consecutive year, consolidating green issues prominently throughout It’s activities and improving significantly on our individual score. This has given us a very strong platform to continue our improvemnent and set Silver standard as a realistic target for the coming year ahead. As a result of this activity UBS has influenced and encouraged green initiatives and strategy across our campus, helping the University improve by 57 places in the People and Planet green league.

Best Bar none Gold The Nationally recognised Best Bar None standard has been embedded in the psyche of high performing Students Unions since it’s inception in 2005. The Best Bar None award is a valuable measure to prove our ongoing commitment to responsible alcohol retailing and to the welfare and experience of our students in our licensed venues. The Ubs has held the award since 2006/2007 academic year and this year UBS is immensely proud to be awarded the GOLD standard, the highest rating available.

Community Legal Service Quality Mark (CLSQM) The ARC maintains its standard within the CLSQM, and will shortly be welcoming an assessor for interim assessment. The CLSQM recognises excellent service and management of processes, and is widely recognised throughout the welfare and advice services across the country.

eXCeLLenCe Excellence is one of UBS’ core values, and is embedded in all we do. In order to demonstrate, both to students and our other stakeholders how we are progressing UBS has sought external benchmarking and validation.

“I am writing to you to highlight the outstanding contribution made by (a member of UBS staff) in supporting the financial needs of students at Brunel University through the provision of financial information, advice and guidance” Chairperson – National Association of Student Money Advisors Community Legal Service


To act for the benefit of Brunel Students at all times ensuring that our sustainable, membership led Union thrives as a result - Our Purpose

www.brunelstudents.com Charity Number - 1142839 This document is printed on FSC certified paper, using sustainable, vegetable based inks.


Profile for The Union of Brunel Students

Impact Report 2010/11  

Union of Brunel Students Impact Report for the Academic Year 2010/11

Impact Report 2010/11  

Union of Brunel Students Impact Report for the Academic Year 2010/11