Student observers – Faculty Assembly for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

The student experience at the Faculty Assembly.

Arriving on campus

Every 3 months as Faculty Representative, I can invite up to 5 student observers to attend the Faculty Assembly. On the 25th March 2019, 4 students joined us for the day. Arriving the night before (3 arrived, one was local) we started the evening with dinner before sitting down and discussing the papers for the meeting and spending time discussing our learning journeys as well as getting to know about each other. We were joined by the Student Association President Cath Brown and the Student Association Vice President Media and Campaigns Fanni Zombor, which allowed the students to find out more about the work we are doing within the Student Association and across the University in terms of making sure the student voice is taking to the heart of decision making.

We had an early breakfast then headed to campus for our first meeting of the day. Ian Fribance (Executive Dean for FASS) met with the students prior to the assembly. This gave the students the chance to field questions to Ian as well as a chance for Ian to find out a little about the students. I must say well done to the students as they did not waste this opportunity to fire in with some very interesting questions. We then took our place in a very busy Hub Theatre. Academic staff, Associate Lecturers, student representatives and staff from across the University were present for the meeting. During the meeting the students joined tables of staff to participate in discussions and got the chance to meet and interact with staff.

After the meeting we had lunch in the Hub restaurant, then we went on a tour around the campus. We first visited The Zone at the Student Association, then worked our way around campus into the Library. We spent a little bit of time here looking at module materials as well as exploring. We then made our way back across campus to Walton Hall, then visited the Reflection garden. We ended the day slowly walking in the sun back to the cars before the students then started to make their way home.

As students we know how hard it is when you are sitting at home alone studying and feeling like you are the only student in the world. The Faculty Assembly not only allows students the chance to meet other students, but lets them see the passion and commitment from both the Student Association, the elected student members and the University to support students in their learning journey.

Own image

Student observers on their tour of the OU campus.

I would like to thank the students for coming along and thank everyone who was involved from both the Student Association and University who helped make this day memorable for those students who attended. If you are a FASS student and would like to be involved in future FASS events, please email me at using the title student involvement. Please include your name, location and module you are studying.

Here are some comments from the students who attended this time:

The whole experience was very worthwhile, it really makes you feel like a student when you are walking round the campus, and the knowledge you showed of the university was impressive. The assembly itself was so much more interesting than I had expected and it allowed me to grasp how truly central the students were to the university, on all levels. I felt honoured to be able to be part of the assembly and was blown away by the level of importance and respect show to us as student members of the faculty that day. Everyone we met seemed to want to help us, and other students in any way they could. It was great to meet everyone involved and I am excited to see what is on the horizon for the OU and for FASS.

Student observer March 2019

An interesting day spent as a student observer at the Open University (OU) Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences (FASS) assembly in Milton Keynes.  It was an opportunity to get an insight into the massive ‘machine’ behind our study modules.

My fear that students would be way down the list of priorities was soon dismissed with the opening comments from the Executive Dean of the faculty, Iain Fribbance, with a tale of having just attended a graduation ceremony and being so moved by the success of so many student from a wide cross section of society.  Although inevitable in such a large university, the day was ladened with bureaucracy and administration, and it still appeared to have the student/customer in mind.  It was reassuring to hear of the commercial approach, having dealt with massive financial cuts, the necessity to justify investment for the future bodes well for the OU in the competitive market ahead.  

Another factor of the day - opportunities, meeting both students and staff.  The students - our representatives - who put a lot of time and effort into making sure our voices are heard and well represented in the faculty, a thankless task too often I fear.  The staff, we started the day having a chat with Ian Fribbance and ‘bent his ear’ about a number of issues such as face to face tutorials and accreditation for an MSc in psychology.  We also chatted to other members of staff in the faculty and got to understand the changes ahead, for instance, Associate Lecturers now becoming members of staff at the OU and how they generally feel this will be a very positive step.

Following the meeting a visit around the campus, although large, impressive, dotted with interesting sculptures, never ceases to amaze me the irony that it is not really for students.

Student observer, March 2019

It was great to meet the 4 other observers who were from different parts of the country and studying different subjects to me, it was an opportunity to discuss our various issues. We were all in agreement that it would be good to have these ‘meeting-up’ opportunities in our own regions because it would help give a feeling of ‘belonging’ to a university and student community rather than being isolated.

Whilst there I wasn’t sure if I felt part of the university as a whole but since I came home, I have begun to realise how much benefit I got from just being there, seeing the campus, library, etc. and today I actually feel part of it all.

Student observer, March 2019

The opportunity to attend campus and participate in the various activities which all faculties arrange can be found on the Student Association website

Billy Docherty

Faculty Association Representative

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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    1. All faculties have Faculty Assembly, i am not sure which faculty you are in but you can contact the Faculty Association Rep if you are interested. This will allow you to see what is happening in your faculty and visit the campus.