Presidents Blog 19/11/21

Mostly Student Voice Week!


Hi Everyone,

I hope that you have all had a great week. It has been a really busy week here, again! Small monster was well enough to go back to school after his 10-day isolation. Unfortunately, my big monster and my husband have been really ill. They have only ended their 10 days today and are still not fit for going back to work and school. Fingers crossed for a restful weekend and being better next week. 

Building on our garden office has also continued at a pace this week. I am so excited to see how far they have got this week! 

Meanwhile, it has been Student Voice Week! There have been over 90 amazing sessions and we, at The Association, are so proud of the partnership work with the University on these events. I hope that you have managed to join at least one of the sessions, there are still a few to go so don’t forget to have a look

The association has also released its brand-new behaviour policy which is timely as it is anti-bullying week and one of our new values is kindness. Please take a look and see what you think. 

The OU library had some big news as well, the SCONOL access scheme that had closed due to the pandemic that allowed students from different Universities to use their libraries has now been re-opened. Please have a look and see how you can register but do be mindful that there will be still restrictions in place. 

There is still time to fill out our Annual Membership survey so please do use your student voice to let us know how we are doing.

Monday

Monday started with a conversation with Matt, VP admin, around byelaws! Trust me first thing on a Monday morning is not the best time to have that conversation but eventually, we made sense of what we needed! 

I regularly meet with Liz Marr, PVC Students, and Sally Hayes, Director Students in the PVC Students office. We had a discussion on students on campus, cyber security, strike action, and covid! It was a much more interesting meeting than those topics suggest! Liz’s office regularly meets with people across the University in the PVC-S Advisory group. I always find these meetings useful as it is good to share what is going on across the University and how we can do better. We discussed the future of exams, the report, and support tools launch, and looked at how that is going to work. There will be more information coming on this soon. 

My next meeting, although with my best friend in the whole wide world, was very student-related. A while ago she was very involved in The Association and needed some information – we also had a quick catch-up as well! 

Me and Reiss Miller, project manager for the 50th and conference, had a catch up to discuss where we were up to with the 50th and we also talked about all things graduations! If you are eligible to graduate you can register on December 7th, I know I will be!

Fanni, VP Engagement, then gave me a call about the OU in Scotland twitter takeover and the OU in Wales twitter takeover. Fanni is now ‘famous’ having been retweeted by IrnBru whilst doing the OU in Scotland twitter takeover! 

Monday evening had two student voice week sessions, the first was our focus group around the 50th celebrations – if you have any stories you would like to share with us about The Association or any ideas that you have for raising money for OUSET please do drop us an email

The second session was the launch of the new Scottish Student Mental Health Agreement. It was such a great session hearing about this and knowing that students have been consulted throughout. There were some lovely stories shared about students being supported by the OU, especially regarding mental health issues. A very good but very long day!

Tuesday

Tuesday started with Reiss and ended with Reiss! 

We discussed how we were going to run the 50th steering group later in the day and some issues that had come up. I then went to the STELA operations group; it is good to see real progress on the alternative formats. The next stage is a debrief and thematic analysis of what has happened this year to find out what needs to be done next. 

I went along to another Student voice session called “why become a student voice ambassador or peer coach”. It was amazing to hear from students who have done this and how much they have got out of it. They entered it hoping to do something good and help their fellow students and ended up getting so much joy out of it. 

It was then time for the STELA steering group, again the debrief was discussed and the student debrief was asked for, so Cin, VP Education is looking at this. 

The day ended with a great 50th Steering group meeting. It is so exciting to see this project start to come together!! 

Wednesday

Wednesday morning started with a meeting with Cebo Nyondo in South Africa. There had been a call for a student to speak on a panel at a conference called ‘The Future of HE; where to from here’ at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) in Durban. The session was called Student Experience in learning through the pandemic. So this was just a heads up for details and to make sure that the tech all worked. 

I then met with Heather Bloomer, head of Digi-comms. We talked about OU takeovers, and training for staff on video editing which will make everything a bit easier in the future, especially when we start to plan videos for the next term of student leaders. 

Dan Moloney, director of engagement, and I met, and we discussed the strike action. We have now amended our statement on this, we will keep updating this page as and when we have anything further to add. We also discussed the governance reforms and how the session with Athabasca university went last Friday. Have a look at this article in The Hoot if you want to know more. 

Next on the agenda was my regular VCE meeting with Liz Marr. There were some really interesting papers including around the new Wales Tertiary education bill, the University of Sanctuary, and an update on the latest VCE away day. 

Thursday

On Thursday I met with Reiss, again, and we discussed how the 50th steering committee was going. We decided that we also needed another group to help make sure we keep the work on track. So, we are looking at having a delivery group. We will need two ordinary students on this so keep your eyes peeled for the opportunity on our website.

Talking about volunteer opportunities, if you would like to be on our conference steering committee there is still a chance to do this. 

Next was a co-option panel for new CEC members. We only had applications for the STEM faculty rep and the new rep will be announced as soon as they have been ratified by our Board of Trustees. Sue has been off on holiday for two weeks, so it was lovely to see her and catch up again. We discussed what I could pull out of the Annual report to Council when I present it to Council next week. 

I then chaired a student voice week panel called “Student Voice: a Partnership approach”. It was interesting hearing from others in the HE sector about their approaches to partnership and also about how we approach partnership in the OU. 

Beth and I then had our regular catch-up. In the evening I participated in another student voice session. This was a panel Q and A session with the Senior team including Vice-Chancellor Tim Blackman and Liz Marr. It was exciting to see so many questions and to be part of such a fantastic session. Fanni did an amazing job in chairing it. 

Friday

Friday morning started very early! At the session with MUT in Durban, it was fascinating to hear how students in South Africa have been affected by the pandemic and see the similarities. Sometimes the tech held us up but on the whole, it was an amazing start to my day. 

I will be attending another student voice session this afternoon and then dual hosting a session with Matt linked to our governance reforms this evening! 

I hope that you all have had a great week and that study hasn’t been too trying! These dark evenings are starting to be the norm and I think I might almost be used to them again. I am planning on putting my feet up and sleeping through at least one film this weekend! 

Have a great week everyone and I’ll catch you next time 😊


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