Whether the voice is singular or that of many the Union commits to enabling that voice to be heard, and relentlessly pursues action in response.  Much of our work is pro-active with our elected student officers providing the insight into key areas to campaign or seek change and our effective representation has resulted in the Student voice becoming louder both on campus and within our local community.

2580 members voted in our

That’s an increase of 514 individual voters from last year’s elections. We also saw a 50% increase in postgraduate voters. This means our members are more engaged with their Union.

 

240 elected Course, Department and College Reps

This means our members can easily speak to someone about academic issues at module, course, and department level and the reps can push for change.

 

452 nominations in the 

The Student Led Teaching Awards allow us to celebrate excellence rather picking fault. They encourage consistency and excellence across the teaching portfolio through championing good practice. This year’s awards was an increase in nominations of over 100% from last year’s awards, showing that more students are participating in the highlighting of excellence within their experience at University. You can see the winners of the awards and the excellence they were rewarded for here. 

1771 members voted in our referendums

We recognised that our structures did not best represent the changes within the University and we proposed some radical changes to our members, to which they agreed. We now have elected officers aligned with the university college structure and to the peer groups that students most recognise themselves as representing (academic groups). We have also increased significantly the number of officers, enabling them to be able to better represent the view of students across the ever increasing portfolio at the university. Since the introduction of £9,000 fees, students are much more aware of their significance in their own university experience and our new structure is now better placed to enable that voice to be heard. We are particularly proud that this coming year will also see the introduction of a part time post graduate sabbatical officer enabling the ever increasing number of post graduate students to have someone at the top table primarily with their interests at heart.

Our members overwhelmingly voted to remain affiliated to the National Union of Students (NUS). This is our biggest affiliation cost and we regually check with our members that they still see this as a valuable spend by the Union. Our members have decided that they want a national voice, they want to ensure that their views are represented strongly, they want to ensure that our officers are best equipped to serve them, and they clearly believe that collectivism is better than isolation.

 

Student Charter

We developed the Student Charter and, with the university, delivered an awareness campaign to ensure all students, Union staff and the University know what is expected of them.

This is a fantastic step forward in demonstrating the true partnership between a university, their students and their union. For the first time we have a clear written agreement of expectations for and from each of these groups. Our members now understand what they can rightfully expect and we and the university have a clear path to be held accountable if we don’t deliver. We expect this first edition to evolve and adapt with time but it will always hold a framework for our members expectations.

Free printing brought to the union.

We promised last year that we would work tirelessly to reduce the cost of printing on campus, with our ultimate aim of enabling student to be able to print journals, research and academic submissions for free. We have tackled this on two fronts, the first being, encouraging the university to accept online submissions and we are delighted to announce that the university will be embarking on a ground breaking trial in the next academic year for one department to be completely digital including final exams. Alongside reducing the need for academic printing, we have also introduced a free printing service in our reception which will enable all our members to be able to print off research, revision and study notes completely free of charge.

 

BDS

We have enabled our members to discuss items both big and small, local, national and international. One of our most divisive discussions was around a motion for BDS (Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions against the state of Israel). Encouraging and enabling this debate saw not only our student assembly but also our Union meeting dominated by well thought and articulated arguments. More than 400 people took an active part in the debate and this encourages us to further facilitate the Union and its societies to be the bedrock of student activism in the future.

Introduction of Liberation Officers

This year student assembly voted to include liberation officers in the new democratic structures of the Union. Liberation is the freedom from oppression, whether that oppression is in the form of LGBTphobia, sexism, racism or ableism. These new posts will allow for better representation of groups that require liberation and will mean a closer working relationship between societies working with these groups and the Unions democracy.

 

Gender Neutral Toilets

This year student assembly voted to adapt its toilet facilities to meet the needs of our diverse student community, and to lobby the University to do the same. The creation of gender neutral toilets within the Union and University buildings will ensure that students of all genders do not feel discriminated against because of their choice to live outside of the gender they were born as. Any new buildings in the University will have gender neutral as part of the design brief, and any toilet upgrades in existing building will also be included in this.

Students Representatives

Last year the University agreed to give us £100,000 for a 3 year rep project, this project aimed to overhaul the rep system as it stands and create an improved system that would work effectively within the new University structures. Over this year we have been working to research and develop a new system and this will be in place for the beginning of the 2015/16 academic year. This new system will ensure that reps are elected where they need to be, visible and contactable on campus and trained to effectively represent their constituents.

In July 2015 the Senate approved the new student rep structure, further enforcing the strong partnership we have built with the University’s staff over the course of the project in student representation across campus, from course level to senior management

 

Prayer Room Opening Hours

Student Assembly passed a motion to lobby the university to open the prayer rooms in the morning as many Muslim students were forced to pray outside in the cold and often wet conditions. The Union came to an agreement with the University and the prayer room is now open in the mornings.