Last week we hosted Rep Conference and it was so lovely to see so many of you there (especially in your red Rep t-shirts!) Here is a bit of a summary of the day and the feedback we have taken on board.
During the day we had a morning of mingling and a variety of interactive student voice activities in the Atrium. We asked reps for student feedback on things such as leadership qualifications, the university’s IT provisions, learning spaces, academic societies and more, plus we had lots of info on Elections, the Union Education Awards and our Part Time Officers. We also had a very popular ‘Fake News’ quiz which is part of our new ‘Have an Opinion’ campaign.
We then had the pleasure of listening to two inspiring keynote speakers on the theme of telling your university story once you graduate. If you missed it (or want to watch it again) you can view the Panopto recording.
After lunch we got into the panel debate with members of the executive staff at university. This was the opportunity for reps to ask direct questions about their (and your) university experience to the most senior members of staff and they spoke about some major issues currently affecting students, including:
- The bus service
- Value for money
- Sustainability issues
- Wellbeing appointments
- Lecture times
- Personal tutors
- Dyslexia test costs
- Cost of food at university
And much, much more! You can download the full minutes online or watch the debate on Facebook live. Most feedback around the debate asked for it to be longer next year (even though it was nearly 2 hours long!) as there is just so much to talk about. On the day we gave students slips of paper to fill out if they had any unanswered questions. We have collated them all and forwarded them on to the relevant member of university staff. If you look at the bottom of this article you will see a list of all of these questions and the action we have taken. We will be holding another panel debate in February to follow-up from these so watch out for info about that!
In terms of the rest of the day, we had some brilliant workshops available to reps, and then a College Wars Quiz in the Academy which was a fantastic way to end the day!
If you are interested in becoming a Programme Rep, please speak to your lecturer/ tutor about your programme electing their reps. If you would like more information about the role of a Programme Rep, please speak to Stephanie on email@example.com
If you want to know who your rep is, check out our rep database.
At our panel debate we had just over 100 questions (!) submitted in writing or via Twitter. We’ve taken these to the university for you – here are the actions and responses, divided into ‘teaching and learning’ and ‘facilities’ questions:
Teaching and Learning Questions
- Outdoor degree lectures are great for supporting students
Feedback forwarded to Programme Leader. Any students who have positive experiences with academic staff should nominate them for a Union Education Award! Our Education Awards are held every year in May and they are an excellent way for staff and students to celebrate and recognise all of the hard work they have done. You can nominate staff members for several awards online and make sure you sign up for the event and come along on Wednesday 29th May! More information about the event will be available on our website very soon!
- It's a bit of a long term plan/significant investment, but does Derby have any plans to expand its curriculum/facilities to support the core Sciences such as Physics, Biology and Chemistry. As far as I’m aware, Derby don't offer any such courses which seems like a bit of a missed opportunity considering we're pretty much central to the country and have good links to STEM employers.
Response from Dr Chris Bussell, Pro Vice-Chancellor/Dean of the College of Life and Natural Sciences:
- There are discussions taking place between the College of Life and Natural Sciences and the College of Engineering and Technology regarding the feasibility of developing a chemistry programme, potentially in the first instance through introduction via the Joint Honours Scheme. This is not a quick process as there needs to be careful consideration as to the scale, scope, breadth and focus of the proposal, for example general chemistry or chemical engineering, if the latter aligned to which sector e.g. pharmaceuticals or mechanical or energy.
- There already is a UG BSc H Biology programme within the College of Life and Natural Sciences and opportunities to progress this to postgraduate level in areas of specialism such as conservation biology or biomedical health.
- Physics does exist within the curriculum in areas of Forensic Sciences within College of Life and Natural Sciences and several areas in mechanical engineering, civil engineering and electronic engineering in the College of Engineering and Technology. The Physics of sound are also covered in a number of specialist programmes such as acoustics in College of Life and Natural Sciences and in sound engineering within the music programmes in the College of Arts, Humanities and Education. There are no current proposals being considered to establish a single honours physics programme at degree level as a number of programmes offer applied physics which are aligned to various industries and sectors. Likewise the number of applicants to direct physics programmes has reduced over the recent years due to decline in A-level students studying physics and, as such, offering physics in applied settings is more appropriate currently.
- It seems like a waste to run courses like Mathematics and Computer Science without any core sciences to bounce ideas/research off. These are fields that should be intertwined.
Response from Warren Manning, Pro Vice-Chancellor/ Dean of College of Engineering & Technology: Maths ideas underpin many subjects, including Computer Science, Finance, Psychology and Engineering. It’s far from wasted and we have many opportunities to use it. Equally, Computer Science works well as a stand-alone subject and forms the basis of Cyber Security, IT and computer Games Programming.
- Do student parents find COMPULSORY evening lectures difficult?
There will be a discussion about evening lectures as part of a debate in the 'have an opinion series' the union are running - please look out for this and feel free to come along. If you have further questions or feedback please contact Vice President Education Scarlet Moss (firstname.lastname@example.org and/or Claire Smedley Part Time Officer (Student Parents) email@example.com
Learning Resources and Spaces
- More space at Brit Mill library and cafe. Also at Chandos Pole, more space for each separate year. Ideal resolution: maybe extend the property to provide more space or allow us to use other space at Brit Mill/Markeaton St.
Feedback forwarded on to Maria Carnegie.
- More space we can go to when we borrow a laptop, library can be busy.
- Can there be 24hrs opening times at Brit Mill?
- Longer library hours at Brit Mill, during week and weekends (x2)
- Can we have more work books in the sports centre
- Coloured paper kept behind desk for disabled students who can't have black ink on white paper
- Why is the library, study areas and computer labs unavailable during holidays
- Can Friar gate have a more advanced library as not all students can access KR (where the childcare facilities are)?
- More books for Social Science
- Can we have audio option for e-books?
- Can you make library sources easier to use?
This feedback has been sent to Maria Carnegie, however, your Vice President (Education) Scarlet Moss Co-Chairs the Library Co-Creation Working Group with Sue Morrison from the University and will add this comment to the to the student opinion. If you are passionate about the needs of the library, then get in touch with Scarlet to join the working group.
- More laptops to be available to borrow in the Library at Ked Rd (and possibly other campuses) to save students having to wait for Laptops to charge up when there are no computers available?
- You cannot access Jstor without going through Library Plus, you cannot access Drama online without clicking 5 buttons rather than going on the site and login via institution.
All feedback was forwarded to IT Services.
- Can specialist software be installed in the library computers, can we have 24hour access to this - Houdini, Maya, Adobe?
Feedback forwarded to IT Services and Maria Carnegie.
- Can students from the College of Engineering and Technology have more storage on Turnit In - some assignments are a large size and Turnit In has not got enough storage.
IT Services are currently looking at large file submission requirements for different programmes. This feedback also forwarded to John Hill.
Careers and Employment
- There are some issues with the careers and employment website homepage, is there a way to get confirmation emails if applications are submitted or something has been filled in?
We have had a response from the University about this and they just need a bit more detail about what is being asked here. This question could be referring to many types of applications eg to the Derby Internship Programme or even registering on one of the Futures Award strands. At the moment, students get an on-screen message thanking them for their application and detailing the next steps, but this could be repeated as an automated email that’s sent when the student submits the application. The original Futures Award strands had an automatic email but with more recent updates we have added this step eg 30 hours embedded work experience. If you asked this question, please do get in touch just to clarify which confirmation you would like to receive an email for.
Work Experience and Placements
- Some Nursing students have had issues with DBS meaning they haven’t gone on placement on time meaning they have hours to make up or haven’t got it when starting the course, they are worried that they will be thrown off the course, have finance issues as they have quit jobs to start the course/ have lack of student finance, they have exams coming up which they don't know whether to study for or not.
This has been fed back to Jo Wheldon.
- Tony Loynes said there are placement people but didn't say any names, who are they in Buxton?
Response given in panel debate from Sue Morrison - Cathy Hodgson and Ben at Buxton from the careers service can support the placement process. Louise Rutherford is the academic lead for employability and is currently reviewing the placement modules to ensure they are improved. Sue Morrison will follow up directly to see if there are any specifics that could be picked up by careers team.
- Can Oaklands Manor be used more to gain work experience while at uni?
- Why can't placements be student choice? Ideal resolution: Having a say in specific areas of social work students want future careers in.
- Love there’s the DIP but most internships are business, marketing, youth work basses. Wish there was a wider variety of internships.
- CGMA (Industry placement) does not have any planned lectures on placement. Need portfolio development lectures for 1st and 2nd years.
- Securing a placement for engineering students is difficult. Ideal resolution: More support / links to the industry - make students aware of where the help is.
- We need much more support for people looking into a Placement year (x2).
- Can we get more choice in our placement allocations to suit future career prospects and areas of specific interest?
These all received the same response from Libby Beck and Jo Wheldon:
What we offer students is a comprehensive package of support from one to the one appointments, workshops, careers fairs, development (High Fliers, Career Boost, Recruitment Uncovered). We also support students when they are on sandwich placements with each student being allocated an academic visiting tutor. Support is also available from the Careers Team whilst the student is on placement. If you have any further questions about placement please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thinking of doing a sandwich placement as part of your degree? Not quite sure yet? Come along to The Hub in the Atrium at Kedleston Road on Friday 7th December between 11am and 1pm to chat through the process and how the Careers and Employment Service can help you land that dream role.
- Dyslexia testing, why charge those who do show up rather than those who do not. Ideal resolution: a £50 deposit.
- What additional support can students access while waiting for wellbeing appointments?
- The DSA equipment supplier closed so we cannot access repairs
- Is anything being done to improve access times for wellbeing service? Feedback from students is that they are being referred and then waiting months for appointments and support that is needed to continue with the course effectively
This feedback was all forwarded to Jo Jones.
- Can we have a copy of the personal tutor policy?
The University's Personal Academic Tutoring policy (2018-2021) outlines the purpose, principles and requirements of the University's approach. It is designed to support student retention, progression and graduate employability by staff and students working together to create academic and professional goals. The Policy can be found online here: https://www.derby.ac.uk/media/derbyacuk/assets/organisation/services/centre-for-excellence-in-learning-and-teaching/Personal-Academic-Tutoring-policy.pdf
- Joint honours students finding it hard to find support for psychology or criminology modules as their personal tutor is early childhood. Ideal resolution: Give joint honours students access to a tutor relevant with their second degree as well as their main one.
Feedback forwarded to Deputy Dean/Dean and Suzanne Wigley.
- For 1st year fashion and design - some of our lecturers have not got their personal tutee list and only half of the year group have personal tutors. Ideal resolution: work out online issues to find out personal tutors.
Feedback forwarded to Deputy Dean/Dean.
- Room allocations have not been meeting the needs of students, too small and have become inadequate learning spaces for both students and lecturers to deliver innovative lectures.
Raised within panel debate - issue across several courses. June Hughes: a wider review approach for room bookings will be undertaken although she believes the process is improving year-on-year but will look further into this feedback.
- Students not receiving timetables in first few weeks or timetables are changing every week
- BM and MS students are given timetables that say we have 0 minutes to get to the other campus… Can the switch to MS and BM be longer on timetables?
This feedback was forwarded to June Hughes.
- Can classrooms in Markeaton Street and Brit Mill have allocated timetables on the classroom doors? Some classrooms have specialist software and students don’t know if the room is being used for a lesson or if it is available.
This feedback was forwarded to June Hughes and Warren Manning.
- Does the university plan to help more international students to find a job after graduation? For example, at the GRIP no company were able to offer sponsorship to international students. Can we have a section in the career centre only dedicated to international students?
Laura Williamson responded: we do have a Tier 1- graduate entrepreneur visa sponsorship for Derby students after they graduate which Joy Lewis is the contact for, they can find it here - https://www.derby.ac.uk/life/international-students/applicants/visa-and-welfare-support/visas-and-immigration/working-during-and-after-your-studies/
This feedback has also been forwarded to the careers team.
- Can there be more support with EU students, e.g. scholarships to help with funding?
This was raised as part of the Panel Debate and Judith Lamming has taken away an action to review the support offered to international students.
- Who decides how many hours of contact time students get? I am on the post graduate social work course and we only have 6 contact hours a week and many think that this is not enough.
Feedback forwarded to Deputy Dean/Dean of college.
- Are there Blackwells vouchers for PG students? (x3). There was also a suggestion of lecturers sorting second hand books.
The Union have been working with the Student Experience team to get the Blackwells offer extended to Post Graduate students. (Update after Student Affairs Committee on 5th December 2018)
- There are not many events just for post grad students
This was raised in the Panel Debate and Malcom Todd responded; this year the first PG Taught social event was successfully hosted by University staff and the next PG Research social event will be on 13th December. All Post Grad students are encouraged to join the Union's newly formed Post Graduate Society for both PG Taught and PG Research, who's main aim is to bring together the Post Graduate community. Details of this society can be found in the societies section.
- Can we get the trackers for unibuses running so the app works? (x2)
- Can Busses leave on scheduled time, often end up leaving 15/20mins late? (x2)
- Can there be buses to Aldi/Lidl?
- Can there be a bus services that runs at the weekend? (x3)
- No.6 buses to run until 8pm on Friday (x2)
- More No.6 buses (x2)
- Can bus routes be more accessible for students living in private accommodation - buses only run from campus housing establishments
- Buses to run past 9pm to accommodate lectures that end at 9pm
These have all been forwarded to Trudy Newton and will be discussed at the annual bus review in March 2019.
- Promote walking to reduce pressures on buses
Scarlet Moss (VP Education) to coordinate the creation of walking maps and media that promote walking times between sites. This feedback was also sent to Trudy Newton.
- Can we have double decker buses in the morning for the number 6 route?
As discussed in the panel debate, double decker buses are inefficient as they actually only allow an extra 8 people on board, and they take much longer to load/ unload. Issues around adding more buses will be discussed at the annual bus review in March and have been sent to Trudy Newton.
- Poor driving from unibus drivers: There have been several incidents with poor driving from No.6 unibus drivers, involving reckless driving and swearing etc.
These comments have been sent to Trudy Newton, however she is very keen to hear of any such incidences directly. If you would like to report an incident of poor driving or behaviour from a unibus driver, please email her on T.Newton@derby.ac.uk.
- Bring back the 5 bus! When I chose where to move, I moved where the number 5 was… this service was imperative to me.
This will be taken to the annual bus review in March but the university’s response on the removal of the No.5 bus has been that the No. 55 replaces most of No. 5 route and students with accessibility issues will have the cost of a bus pass covered by the University.
- Please implement a mini bus between Derby and Buxton again (x2)
Buxton Chair is to carry out research with Buxton students to find out exactly what type of service is wanted and when, and then escalate an informed request to Trudy Newton through Scarlet Moss.
- Need catering for evening lecture students after 5pm
This has been fed back to Aramark who handle all of the university catering, and to Martin Beaumont who handles the Union catering provision.
- Can we employ students for the food counters rather than outsource?
The Union employ student staff in the Academy, Blends and Keddies wherever possible. Feedback forwarded to Aramark who handle all of the university catering.
- Buxton shop is closed, prices of food elsewhere is too expensive
Feedback forwarded to catering provider at Buxton, Richard Greensmith, however Richard has commented on this in the Buxton student forum and he has price matched against the food that was sold in the Buxton shop.
- Can all Cafés have straws? They can be biodegradable but can they all just have straws for those who need them.
All Union outlets supply biodegradable straws. Feedback forwarded to Aramark who run other outlets.
- More microwaves across all sites. (x2)
The Union are providing microwaves across all sites - keep an eye out on our social media for updates of locations.
- Improve the food at all derby campuses that are not linked with Ked. The Food deals suck... at BM you can only get a no-fuss sandwich, can of coke/water or choose from 2 unpopular walker crisps.
The Union will review their meal deal offer in the Mill Shop. Feedback forwarded to Aramark who run the café.
- Not enough options for people with dietary requirements
The Union offer a range of halal and free from items across Keddies, the Street and the Mill shops. Feedback forwarded to Aramark who run the other outlets.
- Food and drink is rather expensive at uni when you consider the majority of students are on a tight budget. Any chance of doing more deals, cheaper prices etc? (x2)
Feedback forwarded to Aramark.
- Why are drinks at BM and MS almost twice the price of KR? Add a Blends, £2.50 for a medium drink is too much (x2)
Feedback forwarded to Aramark. The Union are pursuing the opportunity to putting a Blends provision but this will depend on existing external contracts. This is an ongoing discussion that Martin Beaumont and the Union are looking at.
- Can we get Papa Johns giving us the full size we ordered please?
Feedback forwarded to Aramark.
- Disabled students struggle to find parking around high traffic events - can there be more disabled parking/ security more aware of disabled students' needs (x2)
- Could there be more notice if the car park is full. Ideal resolution: Have signs further down the road to avoid having to que when there aren’t any spaces.
- Limited parking. Ideal resolution: multi-story car park with cheap/ affordable parking to relieve some of these issues.
- Can we ask the council to implement card payments on Broadway - the charge is £4.20 and requires exact change.
This feedback has been forwarded to Trudy Newton and will be discussed at the parking review.
- Can parking machines on campus accept card? (x2)
This feedback has been forwarded to Trudy Newton and will be discussed at the parking review, however this idea is also already being discussed already within the university with the Union's officer team.
- We need someone to do something about the scratch cards at Chesterfield - there are none to purchase so students are having to pay £5.50 to park rather than £2 with a scratch card. This affects students on nursing programmes. Those who can't generally enhance their income due to full time Uni and then placement the rest of the time leaving no room for employment... especially those with families and homes... (x2)
This feedback has been forwarded to Trudy Newton, however one of our Chesterfield-based programme reps has informed us that this is no longer an issue.
- Some form of childcare would be incredibly helpful for student parents. The family room in the library is a great start but very small and it’s difficult to study while still parenting! Run it with childcare students they could get experience too?
The Union will work with the Part Time Officer for Student Parents to carry out a review of possible options and present a costed proposal to Student Academic Committee
- On the childcare topic: myself and other students were very much misled by SFE with regards to the childcare grants, resulting in no entitlement. We are then left with no support whatsoever financially for childcare and it's so expensive! Help us with this please!
Anyone who would like further advice or support with childcare grants, can email the University's Student Money and Resources Team on email@example.com. The Union Advice Team is also available for additional guidance and for any students that end up in hardship as a result of this are eligible to apply to the University's Hardship Fund.
- Why are house companies not checked for student treatment and why is student housing so expensive? Ideal resolution: checks on feedback from students so students know who to go with, better links with uni and housing.
If you are a University of Derby student in or looking for private accommodation, we recommend that you rent a property that is let by an accredited landlord. The University of Derby operates an accredited private landlord scheme in conjunction to provide reassurance that a landlord and their property has met the University's agreed minimum standard for private rented accommodation. Choosing one of these landlords will give you peace of mind on the quality of accommodation you have chosen. In addition, the university will support you if any problems arise. You can find out more information online: https://www.derby.ac.uk/life/accommodation/private-accommodation/ or by coming along to the Housing Fair hosted by the Union on 6th December 2018 in the Atrium, Kedleston Road where you can meet some of the landlords and ask questions or raise any concerns.
- Can we use environmentally friendly containers for tuna/cheese rather than plastic?
- There aren't enough recycling bins and waste bins
- Can we have a full view of recycling as a whole?
All feedback was forwarded to Rosemary Horry.
Security on site
- How much were the new security gates at ked road? How effective are they in terms of security?
- I find it difficult to use parts of the buildings now that there are more sensors. All for security, but can you make the doors automatic so that students with mobility issues can use the doors? Example is B block, BM3, MS3
All feedback was sent to Trudy Newton.
Questions for the Union of Students
- Why is there no parity between opportunities for those at ked rd and other campuses? Many activities happen at ked rd and other campuses are either not notified of them, sufficient transport is not offered or activities not put on at other campuses alongside KR.
The Union have been working hard this year with students at different sites to offer opportunities that are relevant and bespoke to their needs. Your Programme Reps and Part Time Officers are supported to facilitate opportunities according to student demand - let them know what it is that you want and we will work with to try to make it happen. You can find out who your Rep is on our nifty online database: https://www.derbyunion.co.uk/change/academic/
- Can we get funding for the @DerbyUnion for video equipment? Streams can be difficult to hear.
One of our Part Time Officers is meeting with our video content creator to discuss this prior to scrutiny panel on 11th December.
- Why are the toilets at OFGS constantly out of order?
Feedback forwarded to relevant Estates Team.
- Where can we find out where our tuition fees are being spent? (x3)
Your Vice President (Community), Charlie Bell, represents students’ views on the University's 'Value for Money Committee' which is tasked with measuring student opinion on the value that Derby delivers. As part of this work there will be a series of events that will inform and ask students about how the University spend money, where and when. Please email Charlie for more info at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Is the undergraduate research project flexible with dates to allow students who are on placement over the summer to take part?
Question sent to Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme at email@example.com. For more info please see the University's webpage: https://www.derby.ac.uk/services/centre-for-excellence-learning-teaching/undergraduate-research-scholarship-scheme/
- More advertisement on transgender awareness week.
Feedback forwarded to Vice President (Welfare), Jacob Blatherwick.