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President Report Union Council 4 February 2013

Core Goals Your Money UG – Over the past month I have been working closely with the University on developing our new access agreement. This is the commitment the University makes to widening access, and includes the methods it will use to achieve this. In this discussion we have also been looking at the entire student support package, which is the amount of money the University commits to supporting students and enhancing the student experience. This includes fee waivers, bursaries, the Unions block grant, Student Centredness fund, all of which contribute in their own way to supporting our students. I have been looking to ensure has the highest impact it can for our students. During this time I was also given the opportunity to meet with Les Ebdon, the director of OFFA (the Office for Fair Access) and discussed how to ensure we follow an evidence based, and impact focused approach to this. His feedback on this approach was very encouraging. PGT – The desperate need for a sustainable postgraduate funding system is something I have been keen to push for. It is my aim that by the end of the year we have developed clear council policy around our stance on this, but I have been continuing to push this issue while it is clearly relevant. This year saw an unsurprising, but tragic, drop in the number of UK PGT students, which among a range of factors can be in part put down to increases across the country to the cost of Post Graduate Education (in particular 1 year PGT courses). This year the trend appears to be continuing and I believe we are likely to see another substantial drop in UK PGT students which will in my view be a disaster. During mid-January the Union was given the opportunity to have a meeting with the HM Treasury where we discussed the key challenges facing higher education following the recent reforms. I took this as an opportunity to raise my concerns about lack of adequate funding provision for post graduate education. They were well received, but without substantial pressure delivery of affordable access to post graduate studies is a long way off. International – This council l have submitted policy which will give support to the Union lobbying the University on the issue of unstable international fees. It is my aim to receive the backing of council in order to put substantial pressure on the University to implement a far more stable and ethical system.

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Your Union Website Hack day – Students worked on a range of projects, from accessibility of the website on mobiles, to improvements to the performing arts calendar. One project was the development of an online system to help voters decide the positions which mean the most to them. This will hopefully be completed in time for the coming SUSU elections. My aim is to continue to develop this concept, and over February hold a larger event, which brings in groups who are in need of these skills who can produce briefs for projects, and designers who can enhance the output, along with entrepreneurs who can look at how to implement some of the concepts in creative ways. The aim is to turn these events into a real melting pot of a wide range of skills, backgrounds, and interests in order to create strong links between students who would not have otherwise worked together. Events Schedule: Listening to feedback – Last term after the downturn in attendance for our Friday club night we undertook some market research to see how the trends had changed. We took on board the feedback and have put together a program which delivers fewer, higher quality events, with some big name acts. The first of which was just over a week ago, already we’ve seen an improvement in numbers. Innovations Fund – This year due to some additional funding from the University we were able to be more creative with the Unions budget. As a result of this we introduced the innovations fund, which is aimed at speeding up the rate at which we are furthering the Union plan. We have held our first bidding and allocations round and I’m pleased to say that all of the bids were successful to a degree, and will add some really interesting projects and activities to the coming term. I’ve posted more info about the successful bids on a blog.

Your Facilities University – We have begun meeting with relevant University departments in order to develop the relationships and principles which will guide the master planning process. Over the coming months I will also be working with the University towards having a commitment given to beginning this project. Funding – As a part of working with the University on funding support for students, in its boarder term, I have been working to shape how we invest in the student experience, and in student focused facilities. Ensuring that we have high quality facilities and resources available, from Learning and Catering to Social facilities, are high on the agenda. Innovation – For the first time we’ve brought an early discussion to council around which areas there is interest in investing in for the coming summer. My aspiration is that this will give council the opportunity to ask questions at the beginning of the planning stages, to allow for greater Union Council 3

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President Report Union Council 4 February 2013

understanding of the projects when they are presented. It will also give us a strong indication of where the interests of council are when it comes to developments.

Other Work Wessex Film Archive – This month I’ve made a link with the Wessex Film & Sound archive, and will be working on getting our 16mm and 8mm film record digitised and available online for all students to enjoy. I have now identified a selection of early films to investigate (including old RAG festivals, a Funeral of a local Lord, and early footage of Connaught Halls) which I will be visiting February 7th Remunerations Panel – As a part of my role I act as line manager, on behalf of the board, to our General Manager, Jaki Booth. In order to provide greater support for future presidents, and also to provide greater stability for the role. As a result of the first meeting of the Remunerations Panel we undertook a body of work to update the Job Description, and Person Specification for the role. This was evidenced by research into the sector norms, and what we need as an organisation. The most noticeable result of this is the name change from General Manager to Chief Exec. This will bring far greater recognition of the role when interacting externally, and bringing’s us more in line with sector norms. USMC – I have been working with our students in Malaysia, with support from academics, and am helping to develop the beginnings of a student association at our Malaysian campus. So far we have secured funding, elected 3 student reps, and will be delivering training soon on how best to represent their students. With Clubs and Societies already starting up, and the first ever student trip to Singapore taking place in the coming weeks, things have gotten off to a fantastic start. Aspirations moving forward are to elect a campus President & Vice President ideally over the coming months, to arrange for spaces on campus for our reps to use, and to plan a training period for next year’s reps, which will ideally include a visit to Southampton. Elections – Elections are coming up, and it will be my next report where will be feeding back how the whole thing went. A great deal of work is going into making elections the best they can possibly be this year, and over the coming month I will be working in particular with the University in order to get the whole institution engaged in these elections. Pulling them all together into one period of time has given us a unique opportunity to engage a wider range of students, and so I look forward to seeing the result.

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Referendum – In my mid-term review I purposefully left the referendum off, as I intended it to be a summary of some of the core work I’ve taken a lead on, however in response to two comments I thought it would be worthwhile adding reflections on this to my Council Report. Last term, as approved by AGM, the Union held a referendum on if SUSU should affiliate to the National Union of students. The result of this was around 1296 votes for yes, and 3595 votes for no, giving the majority to a No vote. It is the responsibility of all officers (and in particular Sabbatical Officers) to consider these sorts of issues, and present a clear opinion to the student body based on their unique experiences. In this situation I could see a clear benefit to SUSU affiliating to the NUS, and it was my responsibility to put this case to the student body. This is something I have been doing throughout my time as President, and before that when I was a Student Leader. When there was the opportunity to invest in the bridge I made the case to a fairly sceptical council, and pushed to convince council that it was the right thing to do. When it was clear that Oceana would be the best venue in Southampton I provided the leadership expected of my role accepting that initial feedback is not always positive, or even pleasant, however we ended up delivering the best Graduation Ball SUSU has ever seen, backed up by feedback after the ball. Given the above I chose to engage with the Yes campaign, and put the case to the wider student body through the referendum that there would be benefit to affiliation. I was pleased to be working with a team of around 20-30 people who were incredibly impressive in their passion, and determination to engage inspire of the atmosphere that was forming around the referendum. At the conclusion of the referendum I said to the team that rather than a loss it truly felt like we had achieved something worth celebrating. We had engaged a huge number of students in what was perceived by many to be an important issue, and were given the opportunity to campaign for something we truly believed in. I also saw those involved in the campaign grow a huge amount in both confidence, and also in their level of engagement in the Union. I can honestly say that addressing the team 15 minutes after the result, surprisingly, was one of my proudest, and happiest moments as an officer of the Union despite of the result. With regards to the impact on the day to day, hopefully from this report, the mid-term review, and my last report it is possible to see that I have continued to be just as affective, and I ensured that the referendum would not impact on the delivery of my core work. As with any campaign there was a time commitment, however on the whole I sacrificed my personal and family time to provide the extra few hours needed rather than core work time (the 35 hours a week I’m contracted to do). At its conclusion it’s important be honest and say that my opinion, and my belief and opinion on the topic of the NUS is unchanged, and that despite it being one of the most challenging periods of time in my presidency, I would not for a minute change the decision I made to engage in the referendum. However, the key point to make with my role is the will of the student body and not my opinion that Union Council 3

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will at the end of the day rule my actions. You’ll be pleased to hear that we are still not affiliated to the NUS, and if given the opportunity I would not have us affiliated, as that is the decision the membership has made which is one I will absolutely honour as the President of the Union.

Trustee Board Commercial Services – The subcommittee has been looking closely at a range of challenges facing our commercial services. The first term has proven to be a challenging one commercially, with a significant drop in student numbers, and a change in the habits/expectations of our students. Something which the committee has paid close attention is unexplained wastage in our bars. These are situations where stock is not accounted for in either sales, or an explained loss (a drink being spilt/stock going out of date). The level to which this was going on was deeply concerning, and costing the Union up to £20,000 in lost stock each year. Over the last term this has been closely monitored, and processes have been very much tightened up, leading to the amount of loss being cut right down. This has been achieved with the implementation of a new till system, and new processes. Attendance at our evening events has gone down (although in line with the previous year). Some of the measures put in to redress this have been mentioned earlier on in the report, however this is a key area of focus for the subcommittee. Finally halls bars are continuing to make a substantial loss over the year, and are down on their budgets. This is another area of concern and the over the next month we will be working with the Bars and events teams, along with JCR’s to host an event similar to the Performing Arts Next Big thing conference, with the intention to determine the right way forward for the halls bars. Staffing – Staffing Sub Committee has been busy working through a wide range of staffing policies in order to update, review, and create new policies around how we treat our staff. As a part of this, and in reference to some discussions that have been going on in various forums, we will be looking at the Staff Student Protocol. This policy outlines how students and staff may interact, and walks through scenarios where there are likely to be conflicts or issues arising. Our current protocol does fulfil this purpose, but it’s been found that it is often poorly understood. As a result of this over the coming months we will be reviewing and updating it so that it becomes more accessible. The rough outline for how this process will unfold is below: February

Consultation workshop with students Present outline to Trustee Board

April

Take to Union Council Ideas session

May

Take to Union Council for approval

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June

Present to Trustee Board for final approval

Finance – This subcommittee has reviewed a range of policies over the past few months. These include Fraud, vouchers, and expenses policies. We have also been putting together the budget for capital investment over the coming 12 months, which will link in with discussions that we will be having in this council.

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council_union_council_4_february_2013_union_president_report  

http://minutes.susu.org/files/council_union_council_4_february_2013_union_president_report.pdf

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