Impact Report Union of Brunel Students 2011-12
Introduction The last 3 years have seen significant change in the world of Higher Education and we all wait with interest to see how the change in funding mechanism affects both the intake and the expectation of students through this next decade. Alongside this fundamental shift in HE funding, Studentsâ€™ Unions have had to change the way they report and are governed as they are all now required to be registered with the Charities Commission independently from their institution. We believe this changing landscape will inevitably lead to our members rightly demanding nothing less than excellence from both their Institution and their Union highlighting more than ever the importance and relevance of effective student representation, co-curricular actvities and service provision. In 2010 the Trustee Board challenged the Union to develop a robust strategic plan determining how we deliver for our membership and identifying the impact we will have. We spent significant time and resource in 2011 on what became our biggest research project ever, exploring our members perceptions and needs, this has been instrumental in shaping and forming the strategic plan that we were proud to publish in February this year. This September marks the start of our first full cycle with the strategic plan in place and our aim is to be reporting significant impact against our plan next year as we target improvement and change across our portfolio. The strategic plan reflects our core activities and shapes the impact those activities will have on our membership. The plan focuses on our 6 core activities (a summary is enclosed) and this format has shaped the way we present our impact this year in this report. We hope you find it valuable and we hope that you are as enthused and excited as we are about the challenges that lie ahead. Promise Phillips - President 2011-12 Craig Lithgow - Chief Executive Officer
Contents 8 Advice & support 10 The voice of Brunel students 12 Student led co-curricular activity 14 Profitable student focused social experiences 16 Engaging with off campus stakeholders 18 Personal development 20 Excellence 22 Finances
Our Values Explained Democracy
Every student is free to develop within and enjoy every aspect of University life
The Union is a democratically led organisation and is committed to ensuring that the members who represent their peers are freely and fairly elected to do so. We believe that every member has the right and should have the opportunity to stand for office and every member has the right to vote in our principle cross campus elections or in their specific society, school or club elections and should be encouraged to do so. Integrity
Our Purpose To act for the beneďŹ t of Brunel Students at all times ensuring that our sustainable, membership led Union thrives as a result
Our Values Democracy, Integrity, Excellence, Equality and Empowerment
The Union will operate in a manner that is transparent and honest and with the best interests of our members at all times. We will act within the rules and boundaries set and conduct ourselves with dignity, openness and approachability. Our office bearers and staff will act with selflessness and their actions will be accountable. Excellence Our aspiration is that the services delivered for our members will be delivered excellently and we should endeavour always to deliver the highest quality we can in everything we do. We will constantly question what we do, audit our results, benchmark against our competitors and always endeavor to follow a path of continuous improvement. Equality All our members will have equal opportunity to develop within and enjoy every aspect of university life regardless of their differences including but not exclusive to gender, race, faith, sexuality or disability. We acknowledge that some groups require us to adapt our practices to allow them the same opportunities as others and some may need us to speak out on their behalf, but no members whether individually or by peer groups shall be given opportunity to engage with the UBS at the expense of others. Empowerment The UBS will empower its members to impact on their own personal development and facilitate opportunities for them to take control of their lives on and off campus, defend their rights, determine and manage their own clubs and mutual interest societies and have the confidence to represent others.
What the Union is here to do Brunel students are properly supported and represented
Brunel students can enjoy a full and rounded University experience
Brunel students have sector-leading opportunities for their personal development
We achieve this through our core activities Advice and Support
The voice of Brunel students
Student led co-curricular activity
Profitable student focused social experiences
Engaging with off campus stakeholders
Identifying, delivering and recording personal development opportunities across our portfolio
The impact will be that Brunel Students will Be confident in accessing independent and confidential support and advice
Be at the heart of all major decision making on campus
Be empowered and supported to engage in, organise or lead groups or activity
Have venues that are student friendly, safe and that are profitable and recognised as excellent value for money
Be able to live within and positively contribute to communities outside of Brunel University
Be able to gain access to valuable personal skills and experiences outside of the academic framework
By 2016 we will have achieved the following Members understand who we are, where we are and what we do
Members and our key stakeholders fully recognise our values
We will have established a systematic approach to identifying and recording the impact our activity has on our members
We shall develop our staff structure, internal processes, systems and procedures so that they are truly fit for purpose
ADVICE & SUPPORT The Advice and Representation Centre is UBS’ free, independent and 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 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.
The impact will be that Brunel students will be conﬁdent in accessing independent and conﬁdential support and advice
Key Activities Money Doctors In March 2011 we launched Money Doctors, a new initiative in partnership with the University, focussing on helping students become financially competent through intervention and education. Money doctors has engaged over 1,200 current and prospective students in the first 5 months. Housing Project The multi strand Housing Project incorporates relationship building with landlords and local letting agents as well as mediating inter-tenant disputes. We provide support and empower students who are taking their first steps into the private rental housing sector. Hardship Fund The Hardship Fund is a non-repayable emergency fund available to students who are in severe financial crisis. The fund is very generously provided to us by Brunel Alumni, allowing additional financial support to students who are most in need. This year we have awarded £3,000 between 17 students.
“I’d like to take the opportunity now... to thank you for all the time and eﬀort you put into helping us, and for all the advice you gave. We really appreciate it, and you truly made us feel a little more secure in the whole situation, and like we had someone to turn to, should things have gotten even worse” - ARC Client
This Union works Through ARC support and advocacy, we have gained £62,624 for students by helping them to receive the correct amount of student funding, to reclaim withheld deposits and to get extra financial help from hardship fund awards and welfare benefits.
Advice & support
Client Breakdown 29% - Money and Debt Including benefits, public funds and debt 22% - Housing Including contract checks, landlord and inter-tenant disputes 7% - Other Including employment, immigration, legal and health 42% - University related Including academic appeals, disciplinaries and course issues
With support from the ARC...
158 students won their appeals and were allowed to continue on their course 97 students received increased funding from Student Loan Company 28 students received welfare benefits they were entitled to 14 students were protected from eviction
Advice & support
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 Representative system and the student leadership involving the four full time officers and the 10 chairs or standing committees and working groups . We are proud to take responsibility for recruiting, training and supporting the student reps, from all levels of study in all schools. These Reps ensure the student voice is heard in the development and improvement of their courses.
The impact will be that Brunel students will be at the heart of all major decision making on campus
Democratic Structures Spring Elections This is a chance for students to influence who will lead the organisation, it truly puts students at the heart of decision making on campus. The increase in candidate numbers and the decrease in uncontested positions gave voters a greater choice in who to vote for.
Student Reps We saw an 18% increase in the number of Student Reps elected this year. This demonstrates wider representation across campus, with the student voice being heard at all levels. Student Assembly This is the biggest student decision making body within the Union. This year they have awarded the role of UBS Honorary President to Robert Macreadie, a former Pro Vice Chancellor for Student Experience at the University. Student Assembly has also charged the Union with updating our Byelaws, something we are currently working on for delivery in December 2012.
Referenda Our members voted with a 91% majority in favour of continued NUS affiliation, enabling us to represent on a national level, and to bring national issues to a local level. Graduation This year we were faced with a challenge when the University wanted to move the date of Graduation Week, due to the Olympics. We stood up for what we knew our members wanted, and successfully lobbied the University to keep Graduation at itâ€™s normal time in July.
This Union works UBS Officers attend and contribute to all major University Committees and were involved in recruiting the new Vice Chancellor.
The voice of Brunel students
The voice of students in action Vice Chancellor Recruitment Elected Officers were involved in the recruitment of the University’s new Vice Chancellor, demonstrating the strength of relationship between the University and the Union, and enabling us to ensure that there was student involvement in the process. Be taught not lectured We asked our members for their honest responses to a series of questions reflecting the University Learning and Teaching Strategic Plan, focussing on the idea of students as partners v consumers. The responses taught us a lot about what students really want from their education. The responses (along with SLTA data) will be consolidated and analysed in the ‘Challenging Excellence’ report, which will be circulated to University Staff and Committees, with the aim of directly influencing policy and strategy across the University.
“If you give students the opportunity to feedback positively, they embrace it” -Craig Best, VP Academic Representation 2010/11 Student Led Teaching Awards This year saw the launch of our nationally recognised Student Led Teaching Awards, with support from NUS, where we encouraged students to nominate members of Academic and Support Staff from the University. The Awards are a driver for positive change and open discussion with students on learning and teaching, and demonstrate an amazing opportunity to acknowledge those who are the foundations of our institutions. The winners were recognised at a celebration event, as well as during Graduation Ceremonies. The Union and the University are now committed to making the Awards an annual event, after a cross campus campaign that was embraced by staff and students.
The voice of Brunel students
STUDENT LED CO-CURRICULAR ACTIVITY 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 new ones. This year we had 149 clubs and societies, with a combined membership of over 5,500, many of which sit on committees, organise the kit, run events or drum up additional members.
The impact will be that Brunel students will be empowered and supported to engage in, organise or lead groups or activity
Some of our successes this year include... Brunel Entrepreneurs have got through to the final round of the RBS Enterprising Student Society Accreditation Gold Award. Men’s cricket have been promoted to the Southern Premier League and have increased membership enough to enable them to offer a 3rd team. They have developed partnerships with the England Cricket Board enabling them to offer subsidised coaching courses to members, which they then use to coach at schools in Hayes, Ealing and Richmond. The tennis club are now the only university club to have been awarded Beacon Status by the Lawn Tennis Association, in recognition of their work within the local community.
Varsity With 21 fixtures over 13 sports, this year 400 students travelled to St Mary’s for our annual Varsity event where we retained the trophy for the third consecutive year. This event allows students to interact with a local university whilst postively fostering a team spirit. RAG - Raise and Give Our principle student charity fundraising activity, RAG have raised £28,000 this year. Activities through RAG allow students to develop a range of valuable skills and experiences, as well as giving them a chance to positively impact on the wider community beyond Brunel. RAG empowers students to engage in, lead and organise fundraising activities. Student Media We offer two Student Media activities, both led and run purely by a team of 280 student volunteers. This year volunteers have produced 17,000 copies of the student led newspaper, Le Nurb, and over 50,000 people have tuned into listen to Radio Brunel.
This Union works Two first year students who simply wanted to try out a new sport were supported in resurrecting the dormant Archery Club, which is now flourishing with over 40 members in its first year.
10 Student led co-curricular activity
Enhancing the Brunel community Our projects department lead on three key engagement activities throughout the year; Freshers’ Week, One World Week and the Festival of Awareness and Creative Expression. The projects staff encourage and empower over 200 volunteers to get invovled in planning and delivering activities and events throughout the year. Enabling students to lead on activities empowers them to gain valuable personal skills and offers varied experiences for personal development
One World Week This is a celebration and exploration of the diverse community at Brunel, through interactive, fun and educational activities. The Union works in close partnership with the University on this project, reinforcing a sense of unity. The Festival of Awareness and Creative Expression F.A.C.E. is a celebration of culture, sport and creativity. F.A.C.E not only gives students the chance to volunteer and lead on events and activities, but it also allows them to perform and showcase their talents in a supportive and welcoming atmosphere. Freshers’ Week Freshers’ Week is the single biggest volunteering opportunity we offer with over £20,000 invested in the volunteering scheme. This year we had a team of 170 Contacts, volunteering a combined total of 14,280 hours. The Contacts aim is to welcome new students into the Brunel community. The week saw over 160 events, many of which were led and facilitated by volunteers, all aimed at welcoming new students and showcasing what the Union has to offer. Freshers’ Fayre is a key event during this week, giving new students the opportunity to meet face to face with current students and staff, sign up for clubs and societies and learn what the Union, University and Local Community have to offer. This year Freshers’ Fayre had a footfall of over 7,000, that’s one person through the door every 3 seconds. The Contact programme offers huge opportunity for personal development, with Contacts undergoing intense training in first aid, leadership, communication skills, planning and organising small events and contributing to a team effort.
“It’s the best way to meet new people, give back to Brunel and still enjoy Freshers’ Week”
- Union Contact, 2011
Student led co-curricular activity 11
PROFITABLE STUDENT FOCUSED SOCIAL EXPERIENCES The social environment and facilities on campus are to many students 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 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.
The impact will be that Brunel students will have venues that are student friendly, safe and that are proﬁtable and recognised as excellent value for money
Trade We are planning a major re-launch of our online store during the coming year alongside some infrastructure changes within our web platform. These changes will enhance the shopping experience and allow further development of our portfolio. Currently we have online shopping available for NUS Extra Cards, Branded clothing and memorabilia, Brunel badged rings and jewellery and Union Clubs and Societies personalised leisurewear. Our facilities are also used as a weekly market, which 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.
Entertainment Our box office revenues this year shot up by over 50% reducing the operating deficit significantly. The main contributing factor was the effort put into our flagship event night Global on a Friday. Our members now enjoy a diverse multi room experience that is considered excellent value for money and the social highlight of the week. Catering We have spent much of the year in tendering and negotiating our catering contract with the aim of bringing in investment in to the Union facilities and quality branded products and excellence of service our members would expect on the high street. We are delighted to welcome this coming year a “we proudly serve Starbucks” coffee offer in our Locos Bar and our new contractor Sodexo to manage the delivery of our improved food offer. We are also very excited that our Pronto Take away unit this coming year will change to a Subway sandwich offer which we believe will transform the food experience on campus. We believe that these changes will improve the dining experience on campus for our members and help the UBS catering provision to deliver sustainable profitability over the next 5 years.
This Union works Increases in Box Office sales directly improve profitability and reflect the approval of our membership on the events provided.
12 Proﬁtable student focused social experiences
UBS trading contributes more than ÂŁ200,000 annually to Union funds and directly supports our core activities of supporting and representing our members and facilitating their activities.
ProďŹ table student focused social experiences 13
ENGAGING WITH OFF CAMPUS STAKEHOLDERS The sheer volume of our members living on campus and in the surrounding area will have impact on the local community, some of which will be very positive and some of which will be perceived as negative. The UBS is committed to making that impact a positive one through dialogue, mediation and active contributions through our own volunteering projects, supporting other local initiatives and encouraging our members living in the community to fully participate in the local democracy. The UBS is also committed to positively contributing to the activity of other off site stakeholders by fully representing the Student voice at national level through bodies like the NUS and it’s various sub groups.
The impact will be that Brunel students will be able to live within and positively contribute to communities outside of Brunel University
Olympic Activities We were the first of 6 Students’ Unions to host the Olympic Torch Tour in September 2011. 6 local schools attended throughout the day, from primary school to sixth form. We received coverage on local radio and printed media. One World Week During this week long celebration of Brunel’s diverse community, we hosted a day in which two local schools were invited to take part in various activities including Samba Drumming and Sports. The week also gave plenty of opportunities to support local businesses by inviting them onto campus – for example stalls from local food suppliers etc. Inﬂuencing change nationally Our Student Led Teaching Awards campaign saw significant engagement on campus, but also attracted a lot of attention from the national movement. The campaign was featured in NUS’ Conference magazine “Get Organised”. Craig Best, VP Academic Representation 2011-12, was invited to speak at the Higher Education Academy Leadership Foundation on the value of Student Led Teaching Awards to an assembly of Vice Chancellors from institutions across the UK, giving us a chance to represent the student voice and influence change in Higher Education at a national level. Coaching Many of our clubs take part in coaching schemes within the local community. This enables them to develop their own skills in coaching, leadership and motivation, as well as providing positive experiences to children and young people in the local community. For example, Netball are able to offer their members a coaching qualification, through which they teach in several local schools. Engaging local schools and positively contributing to the education of young people, members gain not only a coaching qualification, but experience and skills in coaching, personal confidence and leadership. Town and Gown A scheme set up in June 2011, as the first and only recognised body focussing on relationships between the University, Students’ Union, Students and Local Community. The aims are to build bridges and improve relationships within the Local Community, engaging with local residents and improving relationships with our members, enabling them to live within and positively contribute to communities outside of Brunel University.
This Union works We identified difficulties between students and residents and we set up town and gown to combat these.
14 Engaging with oﬀ campus stakeholders
Engaging with oďŹ€ campus stakeholders 15
PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT One of the Unions core Charitable object is â€˜providing social, cultural, sporting and recreational activities and forums for discussion and debate for the personal development of its membersâ€™ and therefore the opportunities for individual personal development flow through almost all of our activity. Our focus through the duration of the strategy is to record and promote those activities creating the impact of our members understanding, valuing and more importantly implementing the skills, experiences and knowledge they have gained.
The impact will be that Brunel students will be able to gain access to valuable personal skills and experiences outside of the academic framework
Leadership Our members are able to gain valuable experience and develop key skills in Leadership through any of our elected roles; from full time Student Officers, to Sports Club volunteer committee members.
Team Working Developing team skills and understanding others strengths is crucial to developing and progressing all of our clubs and societies. All of our involved members can contribute to the team through their activity or through volunteering themselves to run that group.
Fundraising Many Sports Club and Societies rely on active fundraising to generate income to enhance the range of activities and experiences they can offer to club or society members. We also offer many opportunities to get involved in fundraising for charity through RAG (Raise and Give).
Campaigning Whether this is running a campaign for election, or campaigning for change locally or nationally, members are able to learn valuable skills in campaign planning and management, as well as skills in negotiation and persuasion.
Budgeting Effective budgeting is an essential part of our lives in and out of university. We encourage and facilitate our members to take responsibility for budgeting on a personal level through the Advice and Representation Centre, and on a collective basis through club and society committees and at student officer level.
16 Personal development
New for 2012 - 13 As part of our strategic commitment to delivering sector leading opportunities for personal development, we are launching a new project in 2012 - 13. The project will centre around us identifying, recording and promoting the personal development opportunities we currently offer across our portfolio of activity. This will not only help our members understand and recognise the skills and knowledge they are developing but help them realise how they can use those skills to further their career prospects, employability and prepare them for life outside of university.
â€œMy time involved with the Studentsâ€™ Union has been fantastic and the support I have had has really helped me to developâ€? - Alex Mitchell, Volunteering Chair 2011-12
Personal development 17
EXCELLENCE Excellence across the organisation is monitored in the quality of provision we provide. We want to be recognised as a quality organisation and are proud to have been benchmarked this year against our industry on the following areas.
Excellence is our aspiration in everything we do, from our front of house contact to our back of house logistics we aim to do it to the highest standard we can achieve
NSS Result This year saw yet another improvement in the University National student Survey result to 86% overall satisfaction from final year undergraduates, maintaining the University ranking in the top 50 of Higher education institutions in the UK on the Sunday Times League table. Our commitment to be the voice of Brunel students and deliver excellence in services across campus is reflected in this increase in satisfaction score. This year also saw the introduction of Question 23 which asked about the satisfaction levels students had in their Unions. We are delighted that we scored an overall satisfaction rate of 82% which ranked us at joint 4th in the country, a truly outstanding result and a reflection of the our continued efforts in excellence of delivery of service and solid recognition of our relevance to our members.
Community Legal Service Quality Mark The CLSQM is a recognition of excellent services and process management within the community advice and welfare industry. The retention of this mark demonstrates our delivery of excellence within our Advice service and reinforces our strategic aim of our members being confident in accessing independent and confidential support and advice.
Best Bar None - Bronze Award The Best bar none award recognises effective management of customer and venue safety and delivery of excellence in management processes. We are proud to have held a best bar none award for more than 5 years in the Academy and this demonstrates our commitment to our strategic impact that we have venues that are student friendly, safe, profitable and recognised as excellent value for money.
Green Impact Students Unions We retained our Bronze award for the 3rd year. This award recognises excellence in delivering services against an environmental and ethical backdrop, embracing our strategic environmental enabling plan and our purpose of acting for the benefit of all Brunel students at all times ensuring our sustainable membership led Union thrives as a result. Our success in maintaining our accreditation has resulted in the University pushing their Environmental agenda by enrolling in Green Impact Universities and registering for accreditation under ISO 14001. We are proud that our continued efforts to drive a green agenda are recognised, welcomed, supported and embraced by the University.
Be a Champion - Gold Standard Following a submission describing UBS’ ongoing Olympic related activity, we have been recognised as a “Gold standard Students Union” in the National accreditation scheme delivered by NUS, HEFCE and Podium (Further and higher education unit for the London Olympics) and supporting partner Coca-Cola, as one of only 14 Students Unions in the country to receive this accolade, the accreditation is described as rewarding and recognising the commitment and effort shown by students’ unions in creating an environment for Games.
New for 2013 Our sports clubs this year will be piloting the “club Mark” scheme for Universities, which is a new extension to the existing Club Mark scheme. This accreditation recognises excellence in support systems and processes enabling clubs to deliver excellently against their objectives and needs of their members. We are proud to be selected to develop the Club mark specifically for University/Student Union clubs and look forward to accrediting our clubs throughout 2013. Students Union Evaluation Initiative The SUEI scheme is now wholly owned and operated by the NUS and is a model for excellence of service delivery and management process specific to our industry. In January SUEi will be re launched and re shaped to best reflect the modern student Union and we will welcome the opportunity to be involved in a scheme that audits and recognises excellence across the Union portfolio and benchmarks against the impact and outcomes of Union activity.
Finances The block grant from the University is supplemented by the Unions’ commercial trading activities. 2011/12 has continued the trend from last year in that students are again very cautious with their discretionary spending. Overall trading was in line with last year and this helped to reduce the forecast deficit from £20,000 last year to a smaller deficit of £2.000. Efforts continue in the forthcoming year to increase the trading income and profitability while providing safe and sociable venues for all students at Brunel.
82% - Block Grant 1.1% - Advertising & Sponsorship 6.9% - Academy 5.7% - Loco’s 4.3% - Other
The Unions annual audit takes place in November this year and results reported to the University finance committee thereafter.
35.2% - Student Activities 4.6% - Freshers’ Week 8.2% - Media & Communications 29.6% - Representation 22.3% - Welfare & Advice
Union of Brunel Students Impact Report 2011-12