School of Arts Student Forum
We met with students and staff from the School of Arts on 14th May to discuss any student feedback. The full minutes are below, but key themes were around student identity to the School of Arts and the environment, the lack of cross-programme working, materials for arts students and the art shop and issues with programme reps.
University staff are already working on the action points and updates have been added to the minutes, so your voice has already made a huge difference!
Jane Stanton – Course Director for the School of Arts
Andrew Bevan – Head of Property Development
Matt Hawthorn – Head of Discipline - Design
John Crossley – Head of Discipline, Music and Performing Arts
Chas Andrews-Roberts – Head of Discipline - Arts & Media
Louise Harvey – Communications Officer
Union of Students:
Holly Cole – Retail Supervisor
Jacob Blatherwick – Vice President (Welfare)
Daniella Quill – Vice President (Activities)
Charlie Bell – Vice President (Community)
David Lochtie – Student Voice and Development Manager
Stephanie Groves – Student Voice Co-ordinator
4 Student Representatives, including the two Part Time Officers (PTOs) for the School of Arts
Jane Stanton described the government standards regarding TEF and the current analysis of all programmes at the university, conducted by each School. Each school is required to consort with students on the analysis conducted.
It was decided by the forum that the PTOs were best placed to do this, so it will be discussed in their monthly meetings with Jane.
Feedback on Brit Mill art shop
Holly asked for feedback on stock.
Students fed back that the shop was too expensive and that it now has the stigma of being too expensive.
Reasons for this were discussed such as the size of our orders compared to big online retailers etc., the amount of funding we get compared to universities with a larger population of Art students etc. Discussed that it would be good to make it clearer to students that money spent in the Union shop goes in to funding the Union.
Bulk orders would help and discussion was held around the need for lecturers to communicate with the shop about projects that are coming up so that the shop can order it and get it cheaper. Students agreed that this would help them in general as often whole cohorts are then all trying to buy the same thing.
ACTION – Holly to keep in touch with Discipline Leads and work with staff on stock students will need for upcoming projects.
Issue with Programme Reps not attending meetings
Discussed issues with Programme Reps not attending meetings. Not made clear at the beginning of the year what a rep does and what will be required of them. Also the rep elections were not democratic.
Highlighted that the Union can hold rep elections in class and they give exact feedback about what the role entails. This could help.
Highlighted the rep removal policy – if a programme rep is not doing their duties they can be removed by staff or students.
Discussed issue with getting information across – there is too much info online and students do not always fully read module handbooks.
Noticeboards were discussed by students as a good way to post about the representation structure and where to go with feedback, info about Advice etc. This needs to include one in the Sheds as well as students fed back that they can feel isolated there, even from Brit Mill.
Andrew Bevan was happy to put up more noticeboards, including one in the Sheds – ACTION – Officer team to pick this up with Andrew
In addition it was discussed that it would be good to have a common place for minutes of PCMs to be published.
UPDATE – A meeting has been set up to discuss how to ensure the School of Arts induction event has much more useful information about who the key people in the school are (including titles/positions and names) how they can help the students, where all the courses are actually located and where they can find additional resources etc.
Programme Reps as co-chairs
Matt Hawthorne suggested that having reps co-chair meetings would be good to keep student voice central. Jacob highlighted that we have started this with PTOs. Discussed that this might work best if it was optional as some reps may not feel comfortable. Discussed that it might work best if chairs reach out to reps before the first PCM to go through it and raise the idea of co-chairing.
This fits in with work the Union is doing already with the university on a representation policy. Chairs of PCMs present were interested in being a part of this working group. ACTION – Stephanie to pick this up.
UPDATE – Jane Stanton has agreed with David McGravie to put a policy in place for students co-chairing the Programme committees with the Discipline Heads (who are currently the chairs). Further discussion on the organisation of this is needed and will be discussed with the Union of Students and Registry.
UPDATE – Stephanie has made enquiries about adding chairs to representation working group.
Lack of campus environment
Student fed back that lectures often finish early and students are told to work on their own, however most students go home. Asked if MS could have some kind of lounge/ relaxing space to encourage students to stay and meet. Student fed back that they did not know where other courses were and there is no one around to bounce ideas off, which is not helpful when you need to be creative.
Jane stated that staff want to create a proper studio space and the whole of the revalidation has been around creating a studio practice. She hopes that students will see a big difference in this. Students present said that they would like to work with other courses more.
Andrew – estates share these concerns. We are looking at how to reinvigorate the space and creating more spaces that aren’t a café e.g. a student kitchen/ common room with a microwave/ kettle etc. Also looking into creating more of an atrium space at MS and working with civil engineering students on this, however this will be a long-term plan.
One student noted that replacing the small glass panels on the fire-doors with bigger ones could help so that you could see what is in each room.
Signage to show where other courses/ facilities are
Staff were saddened to hear that students did not know where other courses were and therefore couldn’t work together.
It was suggested that a quick win here could be to improve signage. This would also improve the feeling of identity within the school. Chas suggested that the signs could be designed by students. Andrew was happy with this. It was then discussed that Estates could do a call-out when something needed designing/ decorating. ACTION – Andrew to follow up on this with Jane.
UPDATE – Andrew has been in touch with Jane already and they’re meeting next week to discuss this further.
Freshers Events for students not living in halls
A student noted their frustration with the halls events only being open to halls students, and feeling left-out.
Union officers explained that halls events are not University or Union events and they are paid for by halls privately, which is why they are only available to those students. Effectively the halls students are paying for the events themselves with their rent. We do run our own events (University and Union) that are open to everyone. The best way to find out about these is at the Freshers Fair or via our social media channels. Also it was noted that the Union are not able to email all students, because they are a separate organisation from the University and it would breech GDPR.
The MS Freshers Fair was discussed – noted that it’s difficult to have a full Freshers Fair there because of the size of the space and the artwork on show there.