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INTRODUCTION

OUR VISION THEME A: ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT OUR VISION: Broadening your mind. Making new friends. Advancing your career. Experiencing a different culture. University can transform your life. So whatever you want to do with your time at York St John, we’ll make sure you achieve it. “ I’m pleased that the Union has been able to deliver on an ambitious strategic plan, particularly in a difficult traded year with footfall through our building down on previous years. I hope this report shows the work we have achieved this year to give students that “exceptional experience” the university aims for. We are working very closely with the university to continuously improve students’ time at York St John University, and we want more investment to push our work even further.” Leigh Hankinson Union President 2010-12 “ In 2010 we established a new strategic vision and a plan to get us there. One year in and we’ve made some great strides towards achieving our goals. There’s no doubt that the plan is causing us to question what we do and the organisation is clearly in a process of change – moving from what we’ve been to what we need to be to face the challenges of the new funding regime and the expectations of our future students. We’ve already had success and improved services across the University for our students. I’m excited as to all the other things that we can achieve in the coming years.”

ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT In the last year, the Students’ Union has: • Introduced a regular, termly Learning Centre User Forum. This brings together key staff from the University with student representatives and general users of the Fountains learning centre to discuss their issues and come up with solutions. Notes from the meeting are published online and a number of the areas of concern raised in this forum are being addressed as part of the Fountains Redevelopment project. • D  elivered a campaign on the importance of quiet learning. The Silence is Golden campaign was introduced at the request of students who stated they found the learning centre too noisy in parts and that this had a detrimental effect on their learning. The campaign aimed to raise in students minds the idea that sometimes its right to learn through discussion with others and sometimes you need to have your own space. Again, this issue is being in part addressed in the Fountains Redevelopment project. • G  ained a commitment from the University for £50,000 worth of core texts. The Students’ Union is now regularly delivering reports in which Programme Representatives take reading lists from their modules and check the provision of these texts in the learning centre – looking at both the number of texts available and their age in terms of edition number. The first of these reports led to the University making the commitment to £50,000 worth of core texts as part of the Fountains Redevelopment project.

• Created action plans for each programme at the University. Programme Representatives now have their own action plans for every course the University runs. They can monitor what problems students are experiencing and what changes have been made to find solutions to these issues. It also acts as a clear historical record for new reps to be able to review and a means for them to show the university where problems have not been solved. • Introduced One Page Module Summary documents for all modules in the Faculty of Arts. Students regularly reported that they weren’t clear about the expectations the University had for them on their courses despite all of the information they were given. Initially looking to work with the bottom three NSS rated programmes, we created single page summaries – distilling the requirements for each module into a clear and easily digestible form for all students. The Faculty of Arts was so impressed with the summaries they took the decision to roll them out across all of their programmes. • Reviewed usage of the Virtual Learning Environment by both students and lecturers. The University introduced a new Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) in Summer 2010 and we as a Union wanted to know what the usage was like by both students and lecturers. Working with our Programme Reps we have compiled reports giving clear guidance to the University as to where improvements could be made and how they can ensure all students on all courses get consistent support through the VLE.

• P roduced a report on timetabling problems with recommendations for change. Working in partnership with the Timetabling Department, the Students’ Union has identified a number of improvements that could be made that would have a beneficial effect on students’ academic experiences. This report has only recently been completed and we will be monitoring where and how our suggested improvements have been implemented.

Andy Winter Students’ Union General Manager

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“ I HOPE THIS REPORT SHOWS THE WORK WE HAVE ACHIEVED THIS YEAR TO GIVE STUDENTS THAT “EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCE” THE UNIVERSITY AIMS FOR. “ LEIGH HANKINSON, UNION PRESIDENT


VALUE 1 – FUN THEME A: ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT

VALUE 1 :FUN

I232

MEMBERS OF CLUBS AND SOCIETIES

(AN INCREASE OF 4.5% FROM

OVER

2009-10 AND A NEW RECORD HIGH)

78,000

PEOPLE THROUGH THE DOORS OF THE UNION BUILDING ACROSS 2010-11

82%

OVER

FUN

There’s more to student life than lectures. Taking part in clubs and societies can help you develop your skills. But the union also gives you the chance to relax, make new friends and have a good time. And this year we have done that through:

I600

PEOPLE AT THE SUMMER BALL

239

70

VOLUNTEERS TAKING PART IN OVER DIFFERENT COMMUNITY PROJECTS

82% OF STUDENTS SAID THAT THE STUDENTS’ UNION HAS MADE A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION TO THEIR TIME AT UNIVERSITY

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INCLUDING EVERYONE

Theme B: Including Everyone

In the last year, the Students’ Union has: • S  tarted to link together the Students’ Union and YSJ International entertainment programmes. By building relationships with key staff in YSJ International we have been able to cross-promote events to students. We are now looking to combine all events into one programme for all students for 2011-12. • C  reated Mature & International student noticeboards in the Union. There are now specific noticeboards in the entrance of the Union Building to raise the profile of these groups of students and visually show that they are a key part of the student body. • Introduced specific sections into our handbook for Mature & International students. Our Welcome Guide for 2010-11 contained specific sections for these groups of students to better address some of their needs and again show that the Union is not simply for one certain type of student. • B  rought in new types of events to our Entertainments programme. To provide more variety from the standard pub and nightclub entertainment in our Welcome Week programme we introduced Ghost Walks, Cruises, Rock ‘n’ Roll Bingo and Salsa classes. We will be continuing to build and diversify our programme over the next years to provide chances for different groups to take part in different things.

“ IT’S GREAT TO HAVE THE CHANCE TO GET INVOLVED, AND I FEEL I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO GIVE SOMETHING BACK THROUGH REPRESENTING STUDENTS WHO STUDY HERE FROM OVERSEAS. I HAVE MET LOTS OF PEOPLE AND MADE MANY FRIENDS, AND DEVELOPED NEW SKILLS THAT WILL BE USEFUL TO ME IN THE FUTURE.” Israr Azam, Masters Business Administration

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• Included a range of non-alcoholic cocktails on our Bar menu. Giving those students who don’t like to drink alcohol a chance to try something different when in the building with their friends, we will be continuing to add more options to our nonalcoholic offerings in the coming year. • Delivered a campaign on how the Union is more than just a Bar and what we have achieved for our members. The More Than Just A Bar campaign brand was introduced to start to change the perception of our students as to what the Union does for them. A key part of this was the “Big Wins” section – a part of the campaign that outlined all that our Sabbaticals and Union representatives have achieved for students in the past year. • Promoted the opportunities for involvement in the Union through YSJ Connect. The Students’ Union provides so many chances for students to take part in University life from community volunteering to working for us to taking on an organising role in clubs and societies. We are now actively promoting these opportunities to encourage more students to get involved in campus life and engage with the Students’ Union.


VALUE 2 – INCLUSIVE THEME B: INCLUDING EVERYONE

VALUE 2 :INCLUSIVE

INCLUSIVE

II85voting students

in our annual elections -

a record turnout

Whoever you are, wherever you come from and whichever course you’re studying, the Union is here for you. We’re always looking for new ways to welcome more students into our family. And this year we have done that through:

Online voting introduced so students

can vote 24/7 without having to be on campus

Facebook group created for Commuting Students to network with each other and share problems and experiences

SPARK events, Community activities and International festivals such as Diwali, Sri Lankan new year celebrations, International Food & Culture Fair and Cricket World Cup events held in the Union building

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CAREER DEVELOPMENT

Theme C: Career Development

In the last year, the Students’ Union has: • Introduced and supported a flexible student staff team. Student staff now work across departments and are trained before starting their roles as to the basic skills required for each area. A new induction handbook has been introduced and skills expression training with Career Development from the University has been offered. In the 2011 Staff Survey, 66% of the staff agreed that the Union is committed to ensuring that they learn and develop. • Introduced Staff Volunteering scheme. All staff at the Students’ Union are now encouraged to take part in some volunteering external to their role, with permanent staff given a formal time allowance they can take each month. In the past year, staff have worked in schools as classroom assistants, assisted students with making murals at a women’s refuge, helped out with our traditional Older People’s Christmas Dinner, and staffed the observatory for the York Museums Trust. • D  elivered a programme of soft skills training for students. Working with partners from across the university sessions on Leadership & Teamwork, Communication & Self-Awareness, Time Management & Problem Solving, Preparing yourself for the workplace, and a series of specific IT skills sessions were run across both semesters. Uptake was poor with only 51 places taken up across the year by 34 individual students – this was despite students identifying Career Development as one of their biggest concerns. Our recommendations on improving the scheme will be included into the planning of the York St John Award.

1.

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• Received £4,500 from the Guildhall Ward to run our Night Marshal and Community Coordinator projects. The support we have received from the Council for these projects has meant that they can carry on for the next academic year. These projects have made a great impact on the local community; on the safety of students and the integration of students into City life. • Won Higher York Volunteering Award. One of our Occupational Therapy students, Rebecca Blain was awarded the Higher York Volunteering Award for her commitment and dedication to the PACT project run by the Children’s Society in York. Rebecca gives up a lot of her time to support young disabled people to access the workplace and was nominated by the Children’s Society for her hard work and enthusiasm.

• D  elivered two campaigns to encourage students to think more about their career options. “Careers Ism’t Scary” and “1st Year Counts” were run in the year to show students the opportunities that are available to them and to get them to be less fearful about career planning. The campaigns were successful, particularly Careers Isn’t Scary which led to a 43% increase in appointments for Career Development on the previous year in the same period (against a target of 25%).

YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR UNION

1. PICK UP A COMMENT CARD & TELL US WHAT YOU WANT CHANGING ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OR UNION.

• Produced Careers advice videos. As a non-threatening way of introducing advice for students we filmed and distributed electronically a series of Careers advice videos – taking frequently asked questions and answering them with the aim of encouraging people to visit Career Development. These videos were launched as part of the Careers Isn’t Scary campaign.

2. 2. STAND AS A SABBATICAL OFFICER OR UNION COUNCILLOR

3. 3.

MAKE SURE YOU

VOTE

“I HAVE LOVED MY TIME AT YORK ST JOHN AND VOLUNTEERING IN DIFFERENT PROJECTS HAS ADDED TO THE FUN I’VE HAD. I FEEL I’VE GAINED EXPERIENCE THAT WILL HELP ME TO BECOME A GREAT TEACHER. SOMETIMES IT’S NICE JUST TO HELP OUT TOO.“ CATRIONA NICHOLSON, PGCE


VALUE 3 – IN TOUCH AND LISTENING THEME C: CAREER DEVELOPMENT

VALUE 3 :IN TOUCH AND LISTENING

IN TOUCH AND LISTENING

As your Union, we can only do a good job if we know what you want. Every year, we ask all our members how we can improve their time at university. And this year we have done that through:

220% increase

212 Programme

You Think cards received from our students and responded to

in place across

in the number of Tell Us What

Sabbatical Officers spent over

125 hours

in formal University committee

meetings representing

student opinions

444

Representatives

the University

Introduction of Soapbox and Union Roadshow initiatives to get student representatives

out every week talking to

their fellow students

students responding

to our Annual Survey – a new record response rate

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SUPPORT SERVICES

Theme D: Support Services

In the last year, the Students’ Union has: • P roduced a newsletter for academic staff to inform them of the welfare issues their students could be facing. This newsletter was trialled in the first semester of 2010-11, covering financial, housing and other welfare issues. The trial was deemed as successful and the project will be continued into the coming academic year. • R  ecruited student volunteers to work as Money Doctors. Working directly with the Student Finance and Welfare team, we recruited students to volunteer to provide money advice, campaigning and support for their peers who find themselves in financial difficulties. • C  reated videos of advisors from the University answering specific Welfare questions. As a way to answer those frequently asked questions students have, we filmed and distributed electronically a series of videos. These were launched as part of the build up to students arriving at University so to ease the volume of questions when people landed on campus and to show them the friendly faces of the staff that work in the Student Support team.

“THE STUDENTS’ UNION ARE ALWAYS THERE TO HELP STUDENTS AND I FEEL PRIVILEGED TO BE A PART OF THAT. I’M PLEASED WITH WHAT WE’VE DONE SO FAR AND I’M EXCITED ABOUT CONTINUING TO HELP STUDENTS NEXT YEAR.” Dorothy Hodgkinson, Second Year, Counselling Studies

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• Trained Sabbaticals and Reception staff in what services are available. To ensure that students felt that advice and guidance was easy to access we trained more of our front line staff (as well as our officers) to know what is available within the University. This has meant that they can more easily signpost students to the correct service and has been that successful we are now rolling it out across all of our staff team and our key volunteers. • Reviewed Catering provision for students in Lord Mayors Walk Halls. Following up from last year’s problems at these halls, we delivered a targeted survey looking at the catering provision to see if the previous issues had improved. This information was presented back to University Catering who responded with what they could alter and where they couldn’t change things, why this couldn’t happen. • Worked with Higher York to improve our Community Guide. In 2009-10 we published the first Community Guide for York St John students only. This year, working with Higher York’s Student Forum and the City of York Council, we have collaboratively produced a much improved guide with more information and detail that covers all of further and higher education institutions within the city. Our guides will be distributed in advance of students returning for the start of the 2011-12 term in September.


VALUE 5 – WORKING TOGETHER THEME D: ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT

VALUE 5 :WORKING TOGETHER

WORKIN TOGET G H ER

Funding secured from City of York Council and local businesses’ Nightsafe scheme

to support volunteering

projects within the city

Worked with local politicians on opposing the introduction of higher University fees, including officers speaking at public events within the city

f,

taf rsity s e v i n u ents, ommunity. d u t s c ith from nd the ork w We w sinesses a u get more u yo local b r, we help olunteering s. e v nt h Toget life – from k placeme or nt stude nities to w u t oppor

Active collaboration between the Students’ Union and Student

Services department on the

delivery of campaigns and

volunteering opportunities

Organised the first “Happy Campus Teaching Awards” to celebrate those lecturers students feel are excellent

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BEST VALUE

Theme E: Best Value In the last year, the Students’ Union has: • C  reated one staff brand for all our team. Linking from recruitment through induction to on the job training and management support, all staff at the Union now receive the same level of support, are recruited in a consistent way and are identifiable not by the service that they work in – but simply as a member of Union staff. We will also be introducing name badges in the coming year. All of this was done with the aim of ensuring that the Union Building is seen as a welcoming space for students. In our annual survey 2011, 78% of students felt the Union is a welcoming environment for all students – beating our target of 75% • Introduced a Mystery Customer scheme and Customer Service working group to continually improve service in the building. As above, we want to ensure our building is welcoming for students and rolling out both of these initiatives is key to achieving our target score and increasing this score into the future.

• P roduced the YSJSU Compare website. In order to show our value against our competitors we produced a simple website that compares our prices to theirs in a simple format. In the future www.ysjsucompare.co.uk will be where we signpost our students to when they criticise our pricing to see if their criticisms are valid. • R  ebranded and relaunched our profit recycling campaign – “Your Cash Back”. To get our students to realise that the money they spend in the Union Building goes back into paying for their membership services, we created a new campaign – rebranding what we had previously to make it clearer. In our annual survey 2011, 69% of students understood that profits from our commercial services were spent on membership services – beating our target of 60%. • M  ade Environmental improvement a standard part of all Union training events. All Union staff training events now have a section in which energy and environmental issues are discussed and staff are encouraged to give their opinions about how we can reduce our environmental impact. This has led to the introduction of new bins, new hand-dryers and new water control in our toilets, and we expect more improvements in the future. • L inked membership campaigns into commercial activities. From stickers on the bottom of pint glasses through to staff in specific t-shirts to wraparounds for coffee cups, we have integrated our campaigns more closely to our commercial services than ever before. Linking the two things together should make students remember that the Union is about more than selling pints, and we are pleased that from our research students’ recognition of our campaigns is growing year on year.

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“Students like to know they’re getting good value for money, and this means good service as well as low prices. There’s a friendly feel in the Students’ Union, and you feel like you’re amongst friends when you come in to eat lunch, or socialise in the evening.” Kayti Ball, Second Year, Music


VALUE 4 – VALUE VALUEFOR 4 – MONEY VALUE THEME E: BEST VALUE

VALUE 4 :VALUE FOR MONEY

VALUE FOR

MONEY In our annual survey 2011,

We help you make the most of your money at university. This means good quality, affordable shops and bars. It also means making sure you feel that your time at York St John’s has been well spent.

two reward card schemes

68% of students

WE Introduced

value for money

in the café, one based on value spent and one based on 6th coffee free

felt that we provide – falling slightly short of our target of 70%

Interdepartmental links for rewards – buy a thermos flask in the shop and get a free refill in the café

25 PLUS

promotional offers in the shop every month including

2-4-1 promotions

Sports Kit tender which has

resulted in a reduction to clothing costs, and leD to the

Vice Chancellor’s Initiative

providing £25,000 to buy

playing kit for sports clubs

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Find Us On Facebook www.facebook.com/ysjsu

Our website www.ysjsu.com

Contact: Leigh Hankinson Union President 2010-12 l.hankinson@yorksj.ac.uk 01904 629816

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Impact Report 2010/11