Presidents Blog 12/11/2021

Unfortunately Covid!!

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are all keeping well. Unfortunately, my family have managed to catch covid, Dave and the monsters have been quite poorly. So far, I am ok and haven’t caught it, daily lateral flow tests and many many calls from track and trace! Thank you for my triple jab NHS. We have been keeping as safe as possible and to ourselves, but the monsters have obviously picked it up from school. Small monsters class has over half of them off. It’s a horrible disease even if mild. So it has made for a very quiet week in the house! Apart from coughing and the occasional “can I have an ice lolly?” it has been really quiet!!

My week ended last week with a Societies meeting on Saturday. We have many Societies that are affiliated with us, if you want to find out more check out our website.

After being on a call to track and trace for 40 minutes before 9 am, my day started with a meeting with Melissa Elborn and Ceri Rose from MarComms. We discussed lots of student issues that they are dealing with and different campaigns that they are running. We talked about Student Voice Week and the OU Brand Tracker. I then had a further conversation with Fanni Zombor, VP Engagement, around Student Voice Week promotions. Reiss and I then had a conversation about Conference and how the emails to students were going. You should now have had your notification via email about Conference. Please keep an eye on our website for more details.  Hanna Silk, area rep for Wales, and Gareth Jones, faculty rep for FBL, asked me into a discussion to look at a HEFCW meeting that Gareth had been at. We discussed some mental health work that is happening in Wales, the Graduate Outcomes Wales programme and the new Tertiary Bill that has been released. It was then on to the CEC Huddle. We covered quite a bit about some of the issues affecting the University at the moment. We then discussed some information around student voice week and being able to talk more in the public domain about the Wales Tertiary bill. 

Tuesday started again with calls from track and trace as my husband Dave and eldest monster’s PCR tests had come back positive; I also had a phone call from the monster’s school as well to tell me the protocol. Thankfully I had Reiss, project manager for the 50th anniversary and conference, and Matt, VP Admin, to cheer me up. We discussed and planned the agenda for the upcoming Conference steering group. I also had a meeting with Dan, director of engagement, to discuss more ideas and plans around the tertiary bill in Wales. We discussed the volunteer panels that we piloted in Wales and whether they would be taken up in the other nations as there seems to be an appetite for this. Conference Steering group went well. We discussed which guests should be invited and competition ideas amongst other things. 

Wednesday I met with Beth, director of membership services to discuss the behaviour policy and training that was needed, we also discussed her latest TMA! The Digital Inclusion Management Group met next to discuss where things were up to. Shared space has been sorted so everything can be much more coordinated. We agreed on the terms of reference and discussed the project charter. We also looked at some follow-up research that needs to be performed. Dan and I then met with the team who are looking strategically at the possibility of minimum entry requirements and where the project is at. Until the government make an announcement there is little students can get involved in, except to be kept in the loop. I dipped in and out of the Assessment Programme/ scholarship steering group event as I had other meetings. I met with Fanni again to discuss where we were with Student Voice Week Registrations, please do sign up. I then had my regular meeting with Liz Marr, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students, to discuss the papers that were going to the Vice-Chancellors Executive meeting. This time there were a lot of papers that were highly confidential, but within those, there is some really interesting stuff.  It was time for the quarterly meeting with the government and external affairs team, Dan and I discussed the possible upcoming white paper from the government on Higher Education. The Student Leadership team were invited to do some testing of some new features on Adobe Connect, the platform used for tutorials. It looks amazing!

Thursday has been a day of writing! I have been writing this and another blog about proudest moments. I have also been catching up on papers I need to read for meetings as well as reports that I need to write. I have had a catch up with Fanni around an Instagram take over during Student Voice week. I had a meeting with Allan, head of volunteering, to catch up. I ended my day fighting with my computer! So frustrating!

Friday, I have a meeting with Graham Rimmer and then a meeting to do with Conference which I am super excited about! It’s top-secret but if we pull it off, very exciting! Then Friday evening is the first meeting of the International Distance Learning Student Forum. We have been building a relationship with Athabasca University Students Association in Canada. It’s still early days but this is a very exciting opportunity!

I hope that you all stay safe and hopefully by the time I write again my household will be so much better. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the opportunity to become a member of our Student Leadership Team or volunteer to be on the Conference Steering Committee. In a world that sometimes seems to be going mad, on Saturday it is International Kindness Day so remember to be kind!!! So until next time… 😊

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Sarah P Jones


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