You may or may not have seen that the 2022-24 elected Student Leadership Team held our first official quarterly meeting at the weekend (29 October 2022). The big news to come out of the weekend is that we agreed that we will have four priority areas that will help to guide us in how we represent OU students over this two-year term. I want to tell you a bit more about it.
What are the priority areas?
There are four priority areas, and each one comes with a statement on what we are aiming to achieve. The priority areas are:
Representation – “Increase the influence of student views and experiences at all levels of the University and beyond.”
Communities & Engagement – “Enhance the student experience by creating more spaces for students to engage with each other.”
Association Awareness – “Increase the awareness of the Association, its services, and opportunities through timely and relevant communications.”
EDI & Accessibility – Promote equality, diversity, and inclusion within the Students Association and alleviate barriers in accessing University services and support.”
Why have priority areas?
After the by-elections are concluded, we hope to be a team comprised of 19 student leaders. That’s a big team, and it would be easy in that situation to become disorganised and disconnected from each other and end up being ineffective, working in isolation, and failing to deliver meaningfully for the students that voted for us.
By having a set of team priorities that we all have ownership over, we will be much more likely to work together, understand what we are trying to achieve, and importantly, work on things that actually matter to OU students. The thinking behind this is that we need to function as a team, and agreeing on shared priorities enables us to do that effectively.
It’s really important as elected representatives that we are transparent with OU students about what we are working on and how we are trying to improve their student experience. Having these priority areas will help us to communicate better to students what we are working on and how we are making a difference. And we hope that, in turn, this will make more students see the benefit of getting involved with the Students Association, whether that’s voting, attending events, volunteering or standing for election.
How did we reach these priority areas?
Since we are a large team with many different areas of interest, backgrounds and expertise, it’s taken a while and a fair bit of work to get to these four priority areas.
We carried out an analysis of each elected Student Leader’s manifesto and organised all of the pledges into common themes. This got us pretty close to the eventual final priority areas. But then it was important to discuss as a team whether we felt the areas were right, whether we wanted to add new ideas into the conversation and what language we wanted to use to communicate these priorities so that they would be meaningful to OU students.
As a very new team of Student Leaders, we are learning all the time about The Open University and how the Students Association works on behalf of students. So we didn’t want to rush the process. We wanted to make sure that the whole team had contributed to discussions and that the agreed priority areas are a good reflection of the things we all want to achieve. And I think that’s what we’ve done.
We intend to keep you updated on progress in these areas as regularly as possible via the OU Students Association website and our social media platforms, so make sure you check in regularly. We will also be providing official quarterly updates through our official Student Leadership Team meetings, for which these priorities will form the main topics of discussion.
Now that they are agreed our goal is to deliver a range of initiatives, advocacy, and projects in each area. It’s important to remember though that we have a two-year term up until 31 July 2024. So this really is a marathon rather than a sprint. And we hope, by the end of our term as your elected Student Leadership Team, to be able to point to a significant list of achievements underneath each priority that will make a difference to OU students. Time to get to work!