Presidents Blog 17/06/2022

OUSET, Sun, and Campus!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you have all had a great week. The weather has just been lovely – unfortunately, I did manage to get sunburnt by having a cuppa in the garden on Tuesday! It's so nice to be able to dry washing outside and sit in the garden. I have been really sad to have had my last 1-2-1 with Rob Avann, it has been great working with him closely over the last two years and I remember how kind Rob was to me when I first started as the faculty rep for Wellbeing Education and Language Studies and how generous he was with his time. I know he is going on to an amazing role, but he will be missed.

This month, as part of our 50th we are celebrating our connection with supporting students in our LGBTQIA+ community. We take great pride in having our OU Pride group, and in the podcast this month you will hear from the founder members and the current chair. 

As part of our 50th birthday, we are aiming to raise £50,000 for OUSET; 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!

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, there are lots of opportunities now. If you would like to use your student voice, why not become a student representative on the Senate Reference Committee or on a different committee in the University? Find out more here, and whilst you are at it have a browse at what else is out there such as volunteering at a graduation.

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I started by meeting with Reiss Millar, 50th Project Manager, we discussed student-led projects, the podcast, fundraising consultants, and the new achievements video. Next, I met with Sue MacCabe, Head of Strategy and Insights, to discuss the Council update.

My next meeting was with Cathryn Amber to discuss ways to get apprenticeship feedback. Apprenticeship students are harder to get feedback from due to the type of work they do and study patterns. 

As my next role will be Chair of the board of the OUSET, it was good to catch up with Sue and Gemma Dorrity, Head of Operations, to discuss the new strategy and understand a little more about how OUSET works. 

Every 2nd Monday of the month it is the Student Leadership Huddle. It is always good to catch up with each other and cover off some discussion points. We talked about the AL contract, handovers, and the 50th.


I had an early morning meeting with someone who was incredibly helpful in looking at my CV from the perspective of a recruiter knowing how difficult it is to do a CV that explains everything that you do in a sabbatical officer role. 

My next meeting was with Rachel Garnham from the PVC student’s office. We needed to have a discussion around student voice and the relationship agreement between the OU and the Association. We also discussed the Academic representation task and finish group. As Rachel works on the Student Voice Steering Group and Student Satisfaction Improvement Working Groups with me, we also covered those as well. 

I had a video to make and some papers to read so in between meetings I tried to get that all covered.

In the evening we met with Athabasca Students Association for the International Distance Learning Students Forum. It was lovely to see some new faces as well as older ones. This was my last one of these meetings, it has been brilliant to be a part of this. We decided to cover priority setting and how each of us does this. It was interesting to hear that we do this in a very similar way.


The first meeting of the day was the 50th Steering Group. We looked at our terms of reference and discussed the fundraising consultants that we are meeting with to examine how we can get to our goal of £50,000 for OUSET.

I then met with Beth Metcalf, Director of Membership Services, and again we discussed OUSET and handovers. 

Adnan Rahman is the new policy and public affairs person for the Association, and we met to discuss Teaching Excellence Framework and our Lifelong Learning Manifesto project.

Next was my final 1-2-1 with Rob. Although it feels like the end of an era it was lovely to just cover some of the things we had done and look toward what the future looks like for both of us. 

Reiss and I met with Gemma and Alison Lunn, Head of Finances and Resources, and the fundraising consultants to discuss what they will need from us before the kick-off meeting. It was good to see the comprehensive list of things they will need and the people they will want to talk to as well. 


Started with a beautiful early morning drive to Campus. It was just so lovely to go to campus and meet up with people I haven’t seen for a long time and some I have never met in person. I was there for my final Senior Team meeting. Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor started off with a round-up of what was going on externally and internally followed by updates from each nation. There was then a session discussing the OU’s estates within new ways of working and an update on the Brand launch for next week. Liz Marr, PVC students gave an update as did the team working on the teaching and learning plan. In the middle, I gave the Students Association update followed by some personal comments and as I went to sit down, I got a standing ovation from everyone there. It was really touching. In fact, I had some lovely, lovely comments from so many people, it really was incredibly moving. There were some really lovely comments made about Rob as well, which as it was his last one was brilliant! 

I had lunch with Beth and discussed her first impressions of Senior Team, then I went back to the office and met a few people in the staff team who I have never seen in person before! 

I had catch-ups with Dan Moloney, Director of Engagement, and Reiss before heading home in 30-degree heat in a car where air conditioning was an open window!! It was a very warm trip home!!


My first meeting on Friday was with Beth and Gabby Cull, Head of Executive Support and Staff Welfare to discuss the agenda items for the July Student Leadership Team meeting.

I then attended the Academic Conduct Review Steering Group where the work is really progressing, working out ways to support students with good Academic Conduct and supporting those who struggle and may plagiarise. 

I then attended a session with Marica Wilson, Dean for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion where she set out the OU’s EDI plan. It was incredibly interesting to find out where students can feed in and have their say. 

My last meeting of the day was the Tutor Award panels. It is always really lovely to hear what students think of their amazing tutors and it was a great privilege to be a part of a panel looking at those citations.

Bit of Friday insight for you all: Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing to not put it in your fruit salad!!

I hope you have a great weekend and 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

One Comment

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  1. I have now selected ouset on amazon smile, I hadn’t heard of it before and I often purchase on amazon. What a great way to raise funds with no costs to purchaser and knowing some will be donated is lovely.