Presidents Blog 8 & 15/04/2022

Covid, Campus and Comms

Hi Everyone,

It’s a double episode this week!! Last week I ended up with Covid so I have been working on less than half power! I started writing my blog and just ran out of steam, so it’s a double whammy this week!! 

Hope your week is going well. With the change in weather, some of my plants in the garden have died already which I am not surprised about BUT my onions are still growing! So that makes me happy! We have had covid in the house AGAIN! It doesn’t seem two minutes since last time but this time I have it as well. Thankfully the amazing NHS, due to my underlying health issues, have got me on a virtual Covid ward where I measure my temperature, pulse, and oxygen levels twice a day and they keep an eye on the results and tell me what to do next if they get concerned. So, after 14 days of monitoring, I will either be obsessed with taking the measurements or fed up with it – not sure which way it will go yet!!

This month, as part of the 50th, we are celebrating the amazing partnership work that we do with the University. So, keep your eyes open for lots of content about this. If you are a staff member and would like to share with us your stories or you have ideas that can involve students or the association in your work, please do get in touch at

Don’t forget, if you have been invited to, fill in the National Students Survey, you have until April 30th to do so. To find out more follow this link.

In Association news, don’t forget that there are opportunities to volunteer at graduations, I would highly recommend this if it is something you can do! 

The nominations for our elections have also drawn to a close with around 75 students nominating themselves! I am really excited to see the elections this year! Keep an eye on our website for when you can start voting. 

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I went to Campus for the first time since I started being President. It was weird to see everything but also really good. I had meetings with Reiss Millar, 50th Project Manager, Allan, Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Sue MacCabe, Head of Strategy and Insights. 

We then had a Board of Trustee meeting. This was a meeting outside of our normal cycle as we had some difficult items to discuss. 

I then had lunch with some of the staff, it was just so lovely to see them face to face and remember how tall everyone was! 

I had a chat with Matt Porterfield, VP Administration, followed by a meeting to discuss the Student Leadership Team meetings with Gabby Cull, Head of Executive Support and Staff Welfare. 

It was lovely that evening to go out for dinner with Beth Metcalf, Director of Membership Services, and talk through some of the issues we are facing. We also talked nonsense for a bit which was equally great! Later that evening I had a catch-up with our lay Trustee Mark Price. 


I had a quick chat with Reiss, flowed by a meeting with Sue, where we discussed Strategy reporting.

Next up was a really interesting meeting where we discussed the impact and evaluation of the 50th year. It is important to measure what we have done in the 50th space and record it. We also discussed our fundraising strategy and how all of that will feed into the OU Students Educational Trust (OUSET) strategy, as this trust will be the beneficiary of any fundraising. 

I then caught up with Reiss about student-led projects, merchandise, and student stories. I also had my 2nd meeting of the day with Sue.

I meet with the MarComms team quarterly and we discussed Charter Day, which is a celebration of the OU getting a Royal Charter on the 26th of April in 1969. We also discussed the new brand launch, the situation in Ukraine and how students are being supported, and scholarships. 

I then met with Scott McKenzie who is the new Assistant Director for Curriculum and Learning in Wales. We had a great discussion about this new role.

It was then time for the regular catch-up that we have with Government and Externals Affairs. We discussed our Lifelong Learning Manifesto we are currently working on, Department of Education Consultations and reforms, and the upcoming visit of Michelle Donelan, Universities Minister. 

I then had another catch-up with Sue.


I drove home! And tested positive for Covid ☹

At this moment I wasn’t feeling too unwell so continued with my day and had meetings with Beth and Reiss, followed by, a meeting of the Lifelong Learning Manifesto Working Group. It was good to get a plan in place for future work. 

I then met with Gareth, Faculty Representative for Business and Law, and Nichola Connelly, Faculty Representative for Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies to talk about the Tutor awards, quickly followed by a catch-up with Gareth.

My next meeting was with Liz Marr, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Students, to discuss the papers going to the Vice-Chancellors Executive meeting. 

I then had a quick catch-up with Fanni, VP Engagement.


I met with Dan Moloney, Director of Engagement where we discussed some ways of working for the newly elected reps when they take up their posts in August 2022.

Next was the kick-off meeting for an Online Exhibition that we are planning for August as part of our 50th ­celebrations. There are many Online Exhibitions that the OU’s website hosts so this will be an exciting addition to our 50th year!

I then had another discussion with Sue about the Strategy papers going to the Student Leadership Team meeting. Followed by a catch-up with Heather Bloomer, Head of DigiComms, where we discussed The Hoot’s 3rd birthday!! An amazing achievement!

I then headed to bed as I was really feeling the effects of Covid.


I stayed in bed! And did so all weekend, as per everyone’s advice!! I really should have gone to bed on Wednesday afternoon! I have kind of learned my lesson!


Still suffering from Covid, I just checked emails from the sofa and responded if anything came up. 


I thought I was feeling a bit better, so I had a catch-up with Reiss where she updated me on everything that had moved on since we last spoke. However, I started flagging by lunchtime and went back to bed!


I met with Rob Avann, Chief Executive, where we discussed various issues that had arisen and some next steps that needed to be taken. 

I had a quick catch-up with Beth before joining a meeting with Heather and Reiss to discuss a 50th Comms plan. 

I also completed a piece of NCVO training on Trusteeship.

I then had catch-ups with Matt, and Mark Price, before Covid-based exhaustion kicked in, and got an early night!!


I attended a session on being a Trustee hosted by StoneKing who advise us on legal issues. 

I also had my regular meeting with Sue to discuss Strategy. I finished early in anticipation of the long weekend and hopefully final recovery from Covid. I will be mostly watching films with the monsters and with any luck I will be feeling much better next week! 

Next week is looking chaotic again but as always it is such a privilege to be in this position and be able to raise student issues at the highest level throughout the University, so looking forward to it!! 

I hope that you have all had a good week and that you’ve managed to keep sane!! Have a great weekend, enjoy any festivities, see you on the other side, but until then, Go Well!!! 😊

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Sarah P Jones


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