Posted on Tue 05 Dec 2017 at 14:05 by Rowan South
What have you done this term?
One of my main focuses this year has been on looking into the possibility of introducing a week off after January exams, this has required much consultation across the University, this has included;
- Meetings with every head of school at the University
- Meetings with the UG and PGT Deans
- Meeting with the PVC for Learning and Teaching
- Running a student survey on NUSU’s website which finished on 62% of the respondents in favour of the week’s break.
I have also been looking at the provisions of out of hour’s access to current buildings and the process of a student requesting this access. This has involved simplifying the request process aswell as adding in information about the timeline a request will follow and how often the student will receive feedback on the progress of their request. I have also taken a proactive approach to this by encouraging School reps to inform me of areas they believe would be suitable and sought after.
The planning for the Teaching Excellence Awards (TEAs) has been completed; we have set out a promotional plan for encouraging nominations with over 50 already submitted from nominations opening on the 27th November. We have introduced two new categories; ‘Outstanding Contribution to Student Employability’ and ‘Outstanding Contribution to equality and Diversity in Teaching’ whilst removing the ‘Postgraduate Student who Teaches of the Year’ award which was agreed was not attracting enough nominations, postgraduate students who teach can still be recognised in other TEA categories.
As of 13 November, 1166 Course Reps have been registered, including 1068 here in Newcastle. Of those 1068, 630 had either attended face-to-face or online training which is 55.7%. 56/63 School Reps have been appointed and just have one to train. The vast majority of the 1068 Newcastle Reps data has been uploaded to the app which seems to be working well overall, with just a few minor teething issues. Created a new Rep achievements page on our website which will allow us to highlight to students across the University how reps are representing students’ academic interests both within their school and across the University. We have hosted an all rep social and a rep lunch this term, we are also in the process of planning our rep awareness campaign, the student rep awards and the rest of our additional rep training sessions for semester 2.
Alongside these main areas of focus I have also undertaken many other activities which includes;
- Helping reform the PEC policy to adequately take into account students with caring responsibilities.
- Presented at the Panopto conference in London about how students use ReCap, this gained a lot of interest, especially in terms of students with disabilities.
- Interviewed candidates for the role of Course Rep Student Facilitator.
- Interviewed candidates for the Student Support Co-Ordinator role based at our NUMed Campus.
- Delivered general NUSU and Academic rep induction talks to new students.
- Helped consult on the implementation of having word processing as an option for written examinations.
- Rolled out the ‘What’s the Difference?’ campaign developed by Chris Duddy to new students by including the information leaflet in all Freshers packs. This campaign has also attracted interest from the University; I have presented this at several events with the aim to allow schools to take a lead on this by producing their own school specific versions.
What has been your biggest achievement?
The progress that has been made with the week off after January exams consultations is what I have been most pleased with so far. I was expecting this to be a very challenging objective to propose to the University, I was pleasantly surprised how well it was received by the majority of staff consulted and how I was able to encourage those who were initially resistant to the idea to consider the benefits and bring them round to being generally positive about the proposal despite their initial concerns. The success of these consultations coupled with such a well responded survey with a clear majority in favour puts me in a very good position when I bring this proposal to the University in the New Year.
What could you have improved upon?
As a lot of my work is done in the background it is often not clear what I am actually doing, I could improve on my communication with the student body on what my activities are and how they are benefitting our student community.
What do you have planned for next term?
As previously mentioned I will be bringing the proposal of a week off after January exams to the University in the New Year, this will involve writing a paper that contains the results of student and staff consultations and presenting this at the ULTSEC meeting at the end of January.
I am running a campaign in February to raise awareness of what feedback students can expect and what they can request from their exams, this is currently being planned and is looking at being run from the 12th – 23rd February to coincide with the release of January exam marks.