Officer and Trustee Updates
The first Rep Council of the year began with a fresh agenda, with no actions carried over from 2021/22. The Officer team provided updates on progress through their manifesto, which can be viewed online by visiting their pages at staffsunion.com/representingyou/officers. A brief trustee update followed, focused mostly on financial matters and the signoff of the previous year’s accounts; the Members’ Meeting that followed Rep Council covered this in more detail, and papers can be found here. Board minutes, as always, can be found at staffsunion.com/whatwedo/trustees.
Better Staffs Updates
This was followed by an update from the Better London and Better Staffs Forums that had been held earlier in the month. Our work in Stoke focused on timetabling, which confirmed Wednesday afternoons continue to present an issue for some students; several other students raised accessibility issues and clashes with extracurricular activities, which Len and Choto respectively are looking into. We also received an online suggestion to provide anti-spiking measures, which we are pleased to say were already in place.
Better Staffs London, meanwhile, saw a variety of academic issues flagged by Course Reps. Organisation and management continue to be areas of focus here, and this feedback will feed into Officers’ continuing meetings with academic staff.
At the request of our Parent & Carer Network, discussion then turned to a reported policy requiring three days of teaching per week which several students have reported preventing them attending sessions remotely or receiving session recordings; this creates challenges particularly around travel and childcare for our commuter and parent students. It was clear that this was not the experience of students in other departments, and we were able to clarify that this is a commitment for the University to provide three days of on-campus teaching rather than for students to receive it. Following a brief discussion, the council unanimously agreed that there was a clear demand for greater accessibility and flexibility in delivery options to support as wide a range of needs and preferences as possible. This is being taken to the University’s Quality and Enhancement Committee.
The next item on the agenda was the UCU strikes; after a poll was circulated to course reps to canvass their cohorts, which saw a clear majority in favour of supporting strike action, the Students’ Union has taken a position of supporting striking staff; solidarity with their right to strike, continuing to allow access to Union amenities during strike periods, and continuing to provide education on the driving issues. Questions put to the University include logistics around attendance figures and missed sessions, and the reallocation of funding allocated to staff pay on strike days.
Other points of discussion covered this year’s NUS delegates, who had begun having initial policy discussions and are leaning towards lobbying for support for accommodation and childcare particularly for international students, and bathroom accessibility in both University and Union venues, which will feed into ongoing discussions around the upcoming update to the University’s Trans Inclusion Policy.
Actions going forward:
The session resulted in the following actions, to be fed included in updates for the council's next session in January 2023:
- Len & Choto to investigate timetabling accessibility and clashes with extracurricular activities, particularly sports and society events
- Officers to continue to lobby university staff about academic issues on the London campus
- Officers to push for a review of the Student Charter and seek clarity for on-campus teaching policies and their impact on accessibility
- Officers to put strike-related questions to senior University colleagues
- Officers to raise bathroom accessibility to be raised as part of the Trans Inclusion Policy update process