President’s Blog 25/02/22

Evolution, Consultations, and Sustainability...

Hi Everyone,

Well, this week has been another crazy one! The monsters have been on half term so Monday they went to a club for the day and stayed over at a friend’s overnight – I didn’t see them for over 24 hours! Bliss! Unfortunately, I ended up with a migraine Monday night so the sleep I had planned didn’t happen and I have been playing catch up ever since. The house has been mostly full with their friends all week so I am looking forward to Tuesday when they are back at school again!

As you may have seen in the news there has been a response made to the Augar report on Higher Education. (Post-18 review of education and funding.) As you can imagine we are working our way through the document at the moment, thinking about our responses to the consultation questions. If you want to find out what we are saying, have a look at the statement here.

Exciting news! Graduations are starting again very soon! So that means we need you! We have some great volunteer opportunities on our website for Graduation Co-ordinators and Volunteers. Why not have a look. 

Have you been asked to take part in the National Student Survey? Have a look here to find out more about it. And whilst we are at it, are you a student in Northern Ireland? We have a policy survey up and running we would love to hear your views, click this link to have a  read and take part. 


I started the day with some Teams training to update my skills. I then had a brilliant meeting with Reiss Millar, 50th Project Manager. Reiss has just had two weeks off and we had a lot of planning to catch up on. We then had a meeting to discuss an item that had been in the news. 

Next up was the Sustainability Steering group. This was the first time I had attended as it is a fairly new group. We were working out the reporting lines of the group and what parts of the University were going to be in scope. 


I started my day by meeting some of the Association staff that have recently started in role. It was great to have that time to get to know them a little bit better, the kind of thing that you would normally do in passing if you were face-to-face in the office. 

It was then time for the 50th Steering group. We had a discussion around the three main objectives, celebrating student stories, creating a legacy, and fundraising. We also discussed setting up a Just Giving page for fundraising.  I then had a quick catch-up with Reiss to discuss further what had been decided in the Steering Group. 

My next meeting was with Gabby Cull, Head of Executive Support and Staff Welfare, to discuss the next Student Leadership Team meeting in April. I then attended a Charity Law update as part of Trustee Training. 


My first meeting of the day was canceled so I went out for coffee with a friend who I haven’t seen for ages. It was a good start to my day! I then met with Steph Stubbins, STEM faculty Rep, to discuss sustainability and the Association. 

Next up was my 1-2-1 with Beth Metcalf, Director of Membership Services. The Position Statements Working Group was up next. We are working on the student response to one of the Office for Students (OfS) consultations. I also made a start on reading the Council papers. 


The first meeting of my back-to-back day was the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Management Group. TEF is another of the OfS consultations that we will be providing a student submission for. I then had another Trustee Training session on the developing nature of Charity Governance. 

I meet regularly with Liz Marr, PVC Students, and Sally Hayes, Director of students, and today was that day. We discussed the various consultations and sustainability with students in mind. I also got introduced to an App called BrainToss… I am really looking forward to using it when I suddenly think of something in the middle of the night! (There are other apps out there!) 

Next up, I met with Sue MacCabe, Head of Strategy and Insights. Every week I have to look up her job title as I always get it wrong! We had a really useful discussion around gaining some student insights. I then met with Reiss and Heather Bloomer, Head of DigiComs, to discuss the Comms plan for the 50th

Second to last in my day was a meeting with Dan Moloney, Director of Engagement. We met to discuss the government’s response to the Augar report. 

My final meeting of the day was really exciting. A few years ago, pre-pandemic times, we had Student-Led Projects and the idea has been examined again. We are putting together a group to get this re-scoped so students can put their ideas forward. 


I am spending Friday ferrying my kids around as it is half term and reading Council papers. 

I am going to leave you all this week with something that has been making me smile all week. I saw this on Twitter, and I have shared it with the staff and student leadership team as well. I hope that evolution makes you smile as much as it did me. 

Did you know that a baby Platypus is called a Puggle!?

I hope you all have a great weekend and manage to get some downtime, as that is really important too. 

See you on the other side, but until then Go Well 😊

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Sarah P Jones


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