Presidents Blog 3/12/2021

50th, Conference, and the 'C' word!

Hi Everyone,

I hope that you have all been having a good week. After the mad weather last weekend, you can tell the weather is certainly more Autumnal, and you can tell it’s almost the ‘C’ word as parcels are arriving with alarming regularity!! The joys of online shopping!! The best thing about Wednesday is remembering I had bought myself an advent calendar!! For the first time in as long as I can remember we didn’t have our decorations up before the 1st. I think having some of the contents of our garage in the living room has put paid to some of it – this weekend that will change!! The Hoot has started its Advent calendar so please pop over and have a look each day.

Our Student reps have been busy over November with lots of student voice week highlights, this is from the Wales area rep Hanna Silk, “Hosting the OU in Wales Twitter Takeover with Gareth.It was a great opportunity to share more information about Student Voice Week but also brought up discussions and comments about the Welsh language. These discussions linked to a shared priority with the OU in Wales and was a good way to make more connections with OU in Wales.I joined in with this conversation sharing some of the small amounts of Welsh that I can speak. It was good to see the engagement on this topic. If you are interested in learning Welsh, there is an OpenLearn course on it. 


I spent all day on much-needed admin. I had Student Leadership and Education committee meeting papers to read, and I had some reports to write. Although I had no meetings, I still ended up having a very busy day.


I met with Reiss, Project manager for Conference and the 50th, to discuss the objectives for the 50th and me writing an article for The Hoot around student stories. I also met with Sue, strategic projects and change coordinator, to discuss what consultations we are planning for Conference and starting up Project 10 from our strategy. Project 10 is around a manifesto for lifelong learning. I then had a meeting with a member of staff who I hadn’t seen for a long time, it was lovely to catch up. Heather, head of DigiComms, Reiss, and I then met to talk through the potential comms for the 50th and we also discussed the purpose statement for the 50th podcast. Rob, chief exec, and I then had a meeting to discuss strike action with UCU. Whenever strike action is due to happen or action short of a strike, we meet with UCU so that we can make sure we can support students in the best way we can. You can read our statement and our FAQs here. I then had a regular catch-up with Rob where we discussed face-to-face policy, conference, and the 50th. I then had a short meeting with Beth, director of membership services, and Ian, deputy president. Beth and I then had a regular catch-up as well. Amongst other things, we discussed Groups, clubs, and societies. 


Today was the first meeting of the Research Strategic Advisory Board. It was such an exciting meeting to be part of. It was chaired by the OU Chancellor, Baroness Martha Lane-Fox of Soho. The University has been asking all the members of the OU Family about what societal challenges should we be researching. They all fell within three different groups: sustainability, equality, and living well. This board is going to help to guide the future direction on societal issues research. There was some great discussion about this, and I am looking forward to further meetings of this group. Next, it was the final Education Committee; the OU governance structure has been reviewed and is being changed and as much of the work of Education committee is duplicated elsewhere it has been disbanded. Although I am sad to see it go, it does make sense. My final meeting of the day was a catch-up with the Vice-Chancellor Tim Blackman. As always, I really enjoy these conversations. We ended up talking about lots of things including diversity, being an ally, and kindness and compassion in leadership. We discussed the hybrid nature of the world we now live in and how we need to make sure that we continue to work at improving access. I also shared with Tim some more of our 50th planning, it is so exciting to be able to share my passion for celebrating OU Students!


I met with Reiss to discuss the 50th paper that is going to the Student Leadership team meeting on Saturday. We also had further discussion about Conference and progress on registrations. If you haven’t already registered and want to enter the ballot you have until the 6th of December to do so. Some of you may have already started to receive your confirmation emails so please be on the lookout. I am also getting my admin out of the way today as the pile just isn’t getting any smaller! The Governance reforms comms group met to discuss debates and communication with students around the proposals going to Conference. It’s going to be exciting to see how we can communicate all these proposed changes to students and get their input. 


I am mostly going to be studying!! Friday evening is the social evening for the Student Leadership Team and the staff before our quarterly meeting on Saturday. Will talk about this more next week. 

I hope that you all are getting on well with your studies. I hope there isn’t too much panic about the upcoming festive season and just remember you have all got this!! Being a student and having extra responsibilities and then festivities on top can be daunting but don’t forget to put your feet on the floor, take a deep breath and say you’ve got this!! I hope you all manage some downtime this weekend and look after yourselves. Until next time, goodbye or as they say in Welsh, ‘Da boch chi’😊

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Sarah P Jones


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