Presidents Blog 05/07/2022

Annual Leave, OUSET and Council...

Hi Everyone,

It’s a short week this week as I am on annual leave for most of it. I still have a fair bit to use up! Today and tomorrow though will be home-schooling of the smaller monster as covid has hit the teaching staff quite hard, again! This morning though that meant not just one monster, but he had friends as well! Thankfully they were good and mostly let me get on with what I needed to do. 

As I start to finish off tasks and get ready to hand over, I am getting emotional about the lovely people I have worked with over the last two years and almost every meeting at the moment is the last of it. I get teary each time!! 

As we continue to celebrate our 50th and think about fundraising £50,000 for OUSET I just want to give a huge shout-out to the faculties of the OU who have given a huge boost to the start of this process with wonderful donations. Thank you so very much. If you want to find out more check out this OUSET link. We now have a Just Giving page if you would like to give any donations. We also have some merchandise in our shop, all profits will contribute towards that £50,000 so go and check it out. You can now also passively give to Open University Students Educational Trust (OUSET) if you shop at Amazon. If you sign on to Amazon Smile and search for OUSET you will be able to know that with every purchase, you will be supporting other students!

This month, as part of our 50th we are celebrating all things Student Leadership related. The elected student leaders have been an integral part of making sure that the voice of students is heard right across the university. So we will be celebrating some of the achievements and also saying thank you to the current team whilst getting ready to welcome the new team. You couldn’t have a Student Leadership Team without the staff that supports them so we will also celebrate them as well. 

We have now managed to produce a version of The Hoot for students in secure environments. This is such a fantastic thing, and I am proud this has happened. To find out more check this out.

If you want to get involved in volunteering, why not look and see if you could volunteer at a graduation? You can find out more here.

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Started with a meeting with the Association and some fundraising consultants to go over the documentation that we have provided for them to help us with fundraising for the 50th. Thankfully it wasn’t as long a meeting as had been booked in as I had a mountain of emails to get through! It was good to get this process started and start to look at how we can not only raise money during this year but how we can build it into business as usual. 

Next up was a meeting with Mark Price, interim Chair of the Board of Trustees. We went through recruitment, the dinner and how much leave I still have left to take! 

PVC-S Advisory group was up next. This is where a cross-section of the university gets together, and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Students team meet with us to discuss issues that they need advice on. There was an in-depth discussion about what the OU can do to help students at times like these when we are all under a lot of pressure from every angle. We also discussed the upcoming National Student Survey results that are due out on Wednesday and what they may or may not contain. It will be interesting to see what they contain. 

I also spent several hours reading the 347 Council papers. There were some really heavy papers this time as some big decisions were needed. I really needed my refillable coffee cup but unfortunately, Dave was at work on a training course all day, so it just didn’t happen!


My first meeting of the day was with Danielle Smith, our last catch-up as part of being Council members together! We chatted through that fact and then turned our attention to what we each thought of the papers. We decided where we needed to have input and went through our final report together to make sure we were happy with it.

I then met with Anna Henderson, Director of Assessment, Credit and Qualification. It was lovely to have one final catch-up with her as part of this role. She sent me the loveliest card that arrived yesterday and made my day!

It was then time for Council. The Vice-Chancellor, Tim Blackman, gave his report some of which referred to our work towards the Race Equality Charter and also that two more areas of the University had achieved Athena Swan status, one Silver and one Bronze. These things are all brilliant and all work towards us becoming an anti-racist institution and being more inclusive across the board. 

There were some great discussions about many of the papers. It is great to see so many people giving their time to make sure that the OU is run so well. We gave our report after a fantastic report given by John D’Arcy, Nation Director Ireland. It is always interesting to hear what is going on in the nations and one thing that John said stuck in my mind, 1 in 3 people who crossed the stage at the degree ceremony in Belfast was a nurse!! How amazing is that!! Huge congratulations to all of you who have attended degree ceremonies this year. Our report went down well, and we were commended on making sure what students do is brought to Council at every meeting. 

It is sad that this will be my last Council meeting as I have truly loved being on Council; thank you to all my fellow Council members who have made it so enjoyable. 


Annual Leave and monster sitting!!


Annual Leave and hopefully sleep


Still sleeping hopefully!!! 

I am planning to get some rest, recuperate, plant some strawberries, build Lego, and apply for more jobs whilst I am off because it is full-on until I finish, from next Monday. I hope you have a great rest of the week and an amazing weekend when you get there; try and rest up!! Hope the sun shines!! See you on the other side, but until then, Go Well!!! 😊

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Sarah P Jones


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