A diary of missed opportunities.
What your studentsâ€™ union has being saying for so long.
Report to Court of Governors, October 2008 Campaigning for change Being an active Students’ Union is about improving the experience for students, which often means being a critical friend to the University. Whilst we embrace opportunities to work together in enhancing student life at Arts London, there is a limit to what we can help deliver and a point at which we have to be entirely critical of the speed of change and priority of the University. The student portal is one of these areas. Whilst I understand that there is progress on this, I believe there needs to be significantly more. It’s been a topic of conversation for some years, yet only this summer has the idea been assigned a ‘champion’, and many of the discussions linger on what it should include and the current inadequate IT infrastructure, rather than deciding a vision and acting on it. On another matter, encouraged by recent discussions on the sustainability and green agenda at the University, we welcome the new leadership on this but we remain sceptical of both the practical implementation and educative programme that the University has to take with both staff and students to make this work. Sustainability is extremely close to individual student agenda’s and it’s the University’s responsibility to make it possible for practical matters like reduction in energy consumption and recycling provision to be provided and expected of everyone within the institution. The Students’ Union has the development of a new Student Hub as one of their priorities for the next twelve months. The development of Davies Street has realised some of our ambition set out in 2005-06 to have a central London space for students but, as recognised in the Student Hub Review Report, it falls short of the expectations of students and of what the student voice clearly communicated in 2006. The review goes into detail that I would not wish to duplicate but I do want to pull out a few key themes and urge that Governors take seriously the necessity to find a building that meets the needs and expectations of the students. To give colleagues a fresh view of student opinion on the matter, we have recently consulted a group of students who were not involved in the original focus groups just over 2 years ago, resulting in setting out ‘The student vision for the Student Hub’ which is attached as an appendix to this report. Without going into detail and accepting that our consultations were not wholly scientific, the views and opinions collected from students now rarely differ from that collected in 2006. This shows that the needs and expectations of students are not changing drastically and that the current realisation of the Student Hub concept does not go far enough to meet them. The SU understands it is crucial that we work in partnership with University Management to ensure that the future of the Student Hub as indicated in both the Student Hub Review and as an expectation of widely held student opinion is delivered or secured for the future. We are also keen to work together in the short term, to make the best possible use of Davies Street, and are already working to this end, for example; creating a ‘Tate’ style map of the current layout, to help students navigate the building.
Report to Court of Governors | November 2008 | Helen Gimber The Student Hub and The Portal; strengthening community at University of the Arts London, essential to the ‘One University’ vision In June of this year, during our training, the Students’ Union Executive chose four priority campaigns for this academic year, two of which focused on community at University of the Arts London, both in the physical and virtual sense. These campaigns manifest in pushing for the development of the future Student Hub and the Portal up move up the University’s agenda. At this time we felt that although both projects had enjoyed much discussion at many levels in the University, there was confusion over who was heading up the projects respectively and that no clear vision had been widely accepted and acted upon. Since then we have been pleased with some progress on discussions around both the Student Hub and the Portal. Arguably more developments have been visible on the Portal project, with it being assigned a champion, receiving outings at various University committees and notably UMT citing it as a priority. We are happy with the level of debate that now surrounds the Portal project and to add to it we are preparing a paper that will set out the student vision for the Portal, to go to the Student Life Committee later this month. We remain worried, however, that the development of the future Student Hub has not yet received an equal amount of focus. Back in June the widely held view was that the University would be safe in Davies Street until at least 2015. Yet we still felt that it was an important issue to campaign on, understanding that large estates projects take time and thinking that in this instance pre-empting the inevitable move could only have a positive impact on the student experience. Most are in agreement with the Students’ Union view that Davies Street has never been perfect as a Student Hub, so why not make the break sooner rather than later? Since then with the worsening economic climate, the Government have announced their intention of spending to save the economy and labour markets which will have a direct impact on large scale publically funded projects like Cross Rail. Our connections in both Westminster and in a commercial property company, have allowed us to understand that the buildings affected by the planned Cross Rail Station at Tottenham Court Road have been served their notice. This intelligence was confirmed just two days before Cross Rail were digging up the road outside Davies Street testing the ground. Whether or not you accept that the need to consider the future of the Student Hub is as urgent as we are now suggesting, we still think the call for it to be put back at the top of the University’s agenda is a valid one. The Student Hub is absolutely crucial to the idea of ‘One University’, and if we intend to take the ‘One University’ vision seriously, then we need to take the development of the future Student Hub seriously. For too long Kings Cross has been the only major Estates project in mind and the Students’ Unions’ attempts to raise the profile of sourcing a suitable building for the Student Hub have been met with resistance. It
is imperative that the University allow the Student Hub concept to realise the vision that it sought to achieve, allowing the project the time and resource it needs to find a new home, which will be a major factor in its success. I’d like to take this opportunity to touch upon the journey so far: Arts London poor NSS results back in 2005 led to discussion on enhancing the Student Experience at every level within the University. A UMT away day, involving many senior staff and around 20 student representatives, focused the discussion onto specifics; community, central space, constraints on learning and social space, etc, and a number of projects were carried forward, the concept of a Student Hub being one of them. Phase 1 of the Student Hub at Davies St was completed in October 2006 but plans for phase 2 including the gym, student led gallery and a larger scale social space were shelved, the three things that students at the time had clearly articulated would make or break the success of the building. The current incarnation of ‘The Student Hub’ concept at Davies Street, realises some of the ambition set out in 2006 to have a central London space for students at University of the Arts London. And it’s fair to say that the Hub has come a long way since then, which many students have benefited from and enjoyed. But, as recognised in last year’s Student Hub Review Report, it falls short of the expectations of students and of what the student voice clearly communicated in 2006. Again, I will not wish to duplicate the report here, but I do want to pull out a few key themes that need to be taken seriously. In the summer we consulted a group of students who were not involved in the original focus groups 2½ years ago. The result of this led to setting out ‘The Student Vision for the Student Hub’, the first version of which was presented as an appendix to my Governors report in October. Since then we have consulted yet another group of students, and now present a slightly refined vision, attached as a document in its own right to this report. The views and opinions collected from students in the last few months rarely differ from those collected in 2006. This shows that the needs and expectations of students are not changing drastically and that the current realisation of the Student Hub concept does not go far enough to meet them. NSS results both this year and last, show no significant improvement in student satisfaction, and I think it’s easy to argue that this is in part due to the lack of facilities that a Student Hub could provide. The success of the Student Hub was always recognised to be the right mix of spaces and services that would offer a unique experience to our students that would draw them to the building 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. This is still achievable but the critical success factors will be in the location and the composition of the building. We would like to set out the following recommendations and urge that Governors and University Management recognise the opportunity ahead and share the Students’ Union’s position that this development is much more important to progress positively than to wait till our hand is forced. Recommendations: 1. That the Student Hub project is assigned clear leadership, and that this leadership is communicated widely within the University. 2. That a clear vision for the Student Hub is agreed on, which takes into account student expectations and the findings of the Student Hub Review.
That some consideration is given to sourcing an appropriate building. That KPI’s are set to achieve the vision and manage the project.
The Students’ Union cannot stress enough that we are fully committed to working in partnership with the University to realise the next step for the Student Hub. As in 2006, we look forward to making a meaningful contribution to the project, and will welcome invitations to any relevant discussions that take place. The SU will, as always, actively seek to support, guide and help deliver projects that will enhance the experience of students at University of the Arts London. We’d also like to note here that in the mean time, we are also committed to working with the University to make the best possible use of Davies Street as the Student Hub. To this end we continue to take all opportunities to host student related events and in addition to playing a key part in the operational management of the Hub, students have started to design a ‘tate’ style map of the building to aid navigation of the space while other students continue to make representations on branding, communication and promotion in the Colleges. Successful realisation of both the next Student Hub and the Portal would greatly enhance and support the community of University of the Arts London, which it turn would massively impact the student experience in a positive way. I hope it is plain to see there is a clear appetite from students for both projects succeed and whilst we continue to make the best of current resources, we are looking forward to what the future holds for Arts London. The student vision for The Student Hub The Student Hub of the future needs to provide students with a multitude of services, extracurricular opportunities and platforms for networking and career enhancement. There can be no doubt as to what the purpose of The Student Hub is, it should be wholly student focused and should be branded, serviced and function in a manner fit to this purpose. The chosen building needs to be a neutral space, not aligned to or associated with any particular college. Acknowledging that there has been substantial discussion around location of the next Student Hub, we would like to steer away from considering Kings Cross or Pimlico, as a building in these areas would forever be associated with CSM or Chelsea respectively. The Student Hub needs to be located in zone 1 and considering where the bulk of the Arts London population is based, our opinion is that more thought should be given to the area south of the central line, especially around Southwark and Waterloo. Perception of distance differs dramatically between individuals but opinions from both our recent consultations and the Hub Review suggest that students would be happy to make the journey to a building that has the services they need. The list below indicates the expectations of students as to what a Student Hub should house; this is true of the students consulted recently and in 2006. We would like to emphasise that this is not a wish list rather a list of essentials that, if realised, would truly make a difference to the student experience. It is generally felt that The Student Hub should contain a range of services flexible spaces, that can be utilised to various ends, ‘bookable space’ - available to
services flexible spaces, that can be utilised to various ends, ‘bookable space’ - available to anyone across the University. The Student Hub should house: • • • • • • • • • •
Centralised school offices Centralised student facing registry enquiries 24/7 IT access in both Learning Zone style & more traditional computer room format A central reference Library with a return & order facility Student Services (as currently listed) International Centre Language Centre – offering courses to both students & the public Students’ Union Head Office Cafe Bar (serving food & drink till late) Shop – selling university merchandise & student designed/made products
• Various small-scale flexible spaces; used for lectures, seminars & for showing films • A large-scale flexible space; used as a Gig Venue, Ballroom Dancing Hall, Theatre for performances, etc; all providing late night offering in a safe student environment • At least two exhibition spaces, one student-led and one university run showing both student, alumni & even staff work on a regular basis • Gym Facilities & Dance studio • Student Activities resource space including space for group work, admin work, printing, and student media development (paper, LCMS, radio etc). This list is not unreasonable; as colleagues will know, many other HEIs, both in London and nationally have had such services as standard for a number of years. We also truly believe that this building can aspire to be recognised as one of London’s cultural centres, making the absolute most of the space by running part time courses, training courses, hosting lecture programmes or short film festivals. These types of activity would make this building a 365 day a year offering, the focus of which would be the benefit and education of students but excellent execution of the vision would provide new income streams, while strengthening University of the Arts London brand and reputation. Alongside all the student-facing services listed above, we’d like to propose that University Management working in the same building would be a positive thing. With students at the heart of it would be both an uplifting experience and a physical reinforcement of why the University exists. I look forward to some debate and discussion on discerning the way forward on this critical project which fits so clearly into the University and Student visions for the future.
The Student Hub: Version 2.0 The Students’ Union Space Requirements for Hub Move – February 2009
Background When moving to the Hub at Davies Street, there were a number of compromises that were made in housing the SU central functions within a reduced space. When moving to a new Student Hub, there are a number of considerations and space alterations that need to be included in the move. Currently, there are a number of functions that are located at CSM in two different buildings which will not be available beyond the move to Kings Cross. i.e. ‐ At Back Hill; an Archive Storage Space. At Southampton Row; a good sized Office and storage space and the ‘We are Arts’ space ‐ a student led gallery space.
SU Central Office Space This could be in the form of either one, two or three open plan spaces.
What Total of 28 Workstations 1 Cellular Office with meeting table 1 Reception space At least 2 private consultation areas to be equipped with IT &T 1 Large Meeting Room 1 Small Meeting Room Storage space Storage space
Description Configuration: layout in 4 distinct teams allowing for increased confidential spaces for senior management. Office & meeting room for General Manager Preferably be distinctly at the front of the building and not necessarily in the office space. For the Advice workers to use with clients – could be housed off the SU reception area or the main office. Meeting room for at least 20 people Meeting room for at least 8 people Stationary store and copier room off main office 15m2 Equivalent of 20m2 other storage around the office for files, reception stock, books and reference materials, student activities immediate storage (financial and HR records) could be elsewhere in the building 10m2 TOTAL
Min sqm 290m2
Ideal sqm 360 m2
20m2 10m2 15m2
42m2 20m2 20m2
Student Activities Resource Centre This would be a resource centre for student activities leaders. This could be near the SU offices but is not part of it.
What 8 workstations Meeting space Large table Storage area
Min sqm 52 m2
Ideal sqm 60m2
(6‐8 people) Space for planning / making things (sewing etc!) for kits, equipment and other resources – 20m2 TOTAL
10m2 10m2 20m2 92m2
20m2 15m2 30m2 125m2
Café The Student Hub: Version 2.0 – Appendix 3 – The Students’ Union Space Requirements for Hub Move Students’ Union, University of the Arts London
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Salad Bar, Grab & Go and Hot food offer so ventilation should be considered from the outset. Could consider making a retail unit (memorabilia and confectionary etc) in the same space
What Seating Area
Description At least 250 capacity (ideal sqm could include retail area)
Serve area & Kitchen Staff toilet & storage area for café staff.
Min sqm 300m2
Ideal sqm 500m2
Large Scale Events Space
What Venue space Bar area
Description At least 800 capacity venue Bar area to be created with full cellar space and draught access. Dry and cellar storage within easy access to delivery points (roughly 1/3 size of the venue) TOTAL
Min sqm 440m2 40m2
Ideal sqm 700m2 50m2
Student Activities Studio x2 2 of these would be the minimum that would be wanted. Ideally it would be one larger space that could easily be partitioned when required to maximise flexible usage.
What Studio Storage Showers Changing rooms
Description one of the spaces to have a dance floor, the other space could have a cheaper solid floor Central Store of 20m2 could serve both spaces 3 minimal for each sex Mens and Womans or unisex TOTAL
Min sqm Ideal sqm 150m2(x2) 300m2(x2) 20m2 20m2 (x2) 50m2 (x2) 460m2
40m2 20m2 (x2) 50m2 (x2) 780m2
IT MUST BE NOTED THAT: • • • •
All figures above DO NOT include an additional calculation for immediate ancillary needs The figures also DO NOT include standard 15% additions for primary circulation The figures DO NOT include an additional % increase for circulation in any storage areas The figures DO NOT take into account the layout and circulation/ usability of the space
PLEASE ALSO NOTE: • • • • •
Not detailed the cash handling requirements Not detailed the need to be located near additional meeting spaces for staff meetings, large student meetings, regional meetings Not detailed the space required for financial archiving Not detailed the space required for a mini gym (details can be supplied) Not detailed the bicycle storage areas needed
The Student Hub: Version 2.0 – Appendix 3 – The Students’ Union Space Requirements for Hub Move Students’ Union, University of the Arts London
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MORE TO FOLLOW.... Including a report from as recent as May 2009. We will publish this soon.