October saw Black History Month and the second week of our Freshers 2020 event as well as our first Central Executive Committee meeting and various OU committee meetings. Busy month to say the least!
At the Association, we held our first leadership weekend where the team agreed to raising the alternative format delays at the highest level of OU Governance, Senate. We also agreed the next strategy project priorities: stakeholder mapping, student engagement ladder and looking at how to better work with OU staff to raise awareness of the Association. We also continued to work on delivering out Black Lives Matter pledges.
The recruitment and training of Student Experience Links is now complete and they are equipped in not just supporting leadership members in being out and about in the student community and picking up and concerns, but they will also be supporting our student reps sitting on academic governance committees. At the time of writing this, our by-elections are just about to conclude which we have all been involved in, in some ways and we would like to say a massive congratulations to any candidates putting themselves forward!
Working with the OU, we got commitment from them to cover additional printing costs for those waiting for delayed alternative formats and we carry on being involved in improving communications around the most burning issues for students such as, credit transfers, June 2020 module results, registration and module materials. Senior OU staff have committed to working with us and created a community and sense of belonging group, including our student reps. The group is looking at creating an inclusive online community and at identifying and overcoming barriers in awareness and engagement. We have also secured an international Help Centre page, to better support our international students.
We, of course carry on being available to students via e-mails, forums and social media to pick up any individual issues and see any trends emerging that we ought to be raising with the OU. Many leadership members have regular and ad-hoc meetings around different subjects with OU staff to ensure timely raising of issues and highlighting any postivies.
Vice President Engagement
(posted on behalf of the Central Executive Committee)
Quite a bit of my time has been spent talking with students on Facebook about delays to alternative formats. We have recently appointed new Peer Supporters who are now offering services to students. We have also presented a paper to the OU about peer supporters to make them more confident in sign-posting students to the service.
The second week of the Freshers’ Fortnight went well. We had really positive feedback from students about a lot of the sessions, so the work has already started to plan the next Freshers in January/February and to improve the amount and quality of the online events we already offer.
I helped deliver a session around Ensuring Equality in Volunteering and Representation for Black History Month. I raised important issues at Senate in my first attendance as VP Education and I also got to chair my first Senate Reference Group. I also helped train the first group of Student Experience Links. All of which have clear benefits/impacts for students.
October has been mostly about Student Voice Week. Most of the final details have been ironed out by the planning group and the timetable was published on the 26th of October. Engagement with the National Student Survey has also picked up, particularly being part of the current review on various points.
The highlight for me this month was taking 3 observers to the FBL Faculty for the first time ever, despite some technical issues getting started! From recruitment to preparing to the actual day was a real pleasure to organise and I am grateful for the help of others, particularly Allan!
There has been an optimistic outcome for potential PhD students with difficult disabilities/conditions. I have been working on pulling together the various different strands of Student Voice/Student Engagement/online sessions with students.
Lorena Fontan Grana
The biggest highlight is my Autumn newsletter to all Welsh students, a personal goal because it enabled me to reach all students, even those not on social media. I had various students contacting me directly through email thanking me for it. The Students Association in Wales Facebook group now has 1000 members, with over 100 joining after receiving the newsletter.
I attended my first Trustee meeting, then went on some excellent trustee training the following week. One of the few positives of the current crisis is that the training was online and therefore very
cheap, I mean good value.
Collaborating with others across the OU Community, to coordinate and implement the Black History Month events for October. This included promoting and sharing key information, signposting and offering support to students making enquiries and, presenting the findings from the OU Students Association’s BAME Group’s Focus sessions, at the Reflecting on Race at the OU event.
It was really heartening to see so many enthusiastic people attending the evening session for election candidates on 7 October. It bodes well for the future to see such a diverse group – including many younger students, keen to stand as OU Student Association representatives and want to ensure the best study experience for future students.
Having the opportunity to raise the issue of Alternative formats at Senate. Successfully requesting access for students to attend and participate on the Operations group and Steering group enables the Association to keep being a critical friend. Allowing the students perspective to be heard in the places that it needs to be to enact change.
Being asked to officially co-chair the student voice and well-being champion meetings was a huge highlight for me this month. It is a group with both students and staff in it and the meetings are aiming to make sure student voice is heard in the school of education, chidren, youth and sport.