Announcing the first annual report that attempts to summarise:
- Everything you have been saying to us in the past year
- How the union has sought to represent your views and interests to the university
- How the university has responded
All year long the hundreds of students you elect (including those pictured) work hard to represent your interests to the university. As a union we believe we need to do more to highlight all that our elected representatives have been doing and all the things you have been saying about your student experience. We strive to go further in feeding these views back to the university and holding them accountable for responding to them. In the coming weeks and months we will be publishing articles and an annual report which we hope will aid these things. This is the first in a series of articles that describe this work, which is at the core of everything we do as a union, by providing the background to how the report came about.
You talked...we listened - some background:
During the academic year of 2016/17, the Union commissioned external researchers to develop a detailed analysis of student perceptions of the Union, to find out our strengths and our areas for improvement. The report was published in Spring 2017 and clear themes and targets for us emerged. The Union’s three-year Strategic Plan was developed on the basis of the report’s recommendations:
To rebrand the Union and recapture the attention of our students.
To hold more events which cater for different students’ priorities whilst at university. The report suggested events such as skills building or team-challenge days, which incorporate development opportunities and the chance to meet new people and socialise.
‘Demystifying’ what we offer. Although we need to cater to different students, we also need to clearly demonstrate what we provide!
Offering support and guidance for students who are unsure what they want to get out of their university experience.
Build a real sense of a ‘community of students’.
Be vocal in promoting our successes, demonstrating that our activities have a clear impact on student experience.
How you shaped our Strategic Plan (2017-2020)...
After this report we launched our new branding on Wednesday 26th July 2017, ready for new students in September. The rebrand was a huge undertaking as we dramatically changed our look, and our name! By flipping the SU acronym to us, we hoped the focus feels more on people. We hoped this simple change created a sense of intrigue, togetherness and unity. Derby Union of Students is proud to be a vibrant, ambitious, supportive, inclusive and open organisation and we hope to show this through all of our communications.
Our Strategic Plan is clear, bold and ambitious, just like us! It has five strands which you will see, demonstrated throughout this report, play an integral part in what we have done this year and what we aim to do in the future:
? Building a vibrant student community
? Developing students through transformative opportunities
? Championing clear and effective student voice
? Delivering flexible support and guidance
? Create data driven, positive outcomes
The strategic plan contains lots of background information around these five key themes - all built upon the findings of our research with our students. This new report will specifically focus primarily on the theme of student voice but you can read the full strategic plan on our website.
Who Runs the Rep Scheme?
By 2020 we want at least 90% of students to know that the Rep Scheme is provided by the Union. We feel this is important so that students know the scheme remains (hugely supportive but) independent of the University.
As shown above, from our 2016/17 research we found that only 35% of students knew that the Programme Rep Scheme was a service provided by the Union. We have worked hard this year in making sure that Rep training, communication and support is clearly identified as coming from the Union. Recent survey results show an increase in student knowledge on this, so our hard work this past year has helped! However, we need to continue to get the word out! It is important that students know that the union is independent from the university - we want students to praise the university for what it does well but also feel confident to point out areas for development, backed up by the the union of students.
By 2020 we want at least 80% of students to know who their Programme Representatives are. This is so important - we need students to know who to go to with their feedback in order to make the changes you want to see.
The University have conducted online polls to find out how many students know who their Programme Rep is. The UDo polls are widely used; the first poll received 732 responses, the second poll received 1408 responses. Unfortunately, the figure has decreased as the year has gone on:
This may be down to students hearing more about the Programme Rep scheme and electing reps at the start of the year. Potentially students may have forgotten who their rep is after months have passed. Our next step, using this data, is to build a plan involving periodic reminders from us about who represents each cohort. We will conduct further polls and surveys next year to find out if this impacts students’ knowledge of their reps.
This is only the start of the data we have on what you have asked of us... and on the work our reps have been doing to represent your academic interests. Our next article will begin to detail all the ways the union represents your academic interests. This will all build towards the publication of the report early this academic year.
Find out more, including how you can find out who was elected to represent your academic interests, suggest ideas to our ideas forum or involved yourself via the link - be the change you want to see.