Advocacy Strategy

Student Advocacy

We represent and campaign to give students power over their education. We help students to help other students. And we sort (and prevent) students’ problems with help, advice and support.

The Context

The past year has been one fraught with controversy on campus, with a sense (however justified) that we ban too often and consult too little. We’ve piloted deeper research into our students this year and that’s helping us (and the University) adapt services and plans to meet the needs of our members. We need to work with the University to ensure UEA ups its game on student representation, and research suggests that students increasingly view social action as a core part of their student experience expectation.

Our ambitions:

This is where we want to be by 2019

  • We will provide unrivalled support, training and development for student representatives and activists to change their course, their community and their world
  • We will use evidence and research from the whole student body to drive positive change for students
  • In the University, students will work with academics and administrators to develop proposals and solve problems
  • We will provide an independent, flexible student advice and advocacy service that leads to policy change

The year ahead

This is what we’ll do to get there in 2016-17

  • In conjunction with UEA, we’ll develop a segmented research plan that generates rich insight into the lives and experiences of UEA’s students, operate a student opinion panel to gather regular feedback on the issues that matter, and recruit and train a student research team- ensuring we directly contact every UEA student at least once next year.
  • We’ll run a series of projects focussed on improving support for student representation & feedback and improving the dissemination of its impacts, identifying top student issues for action at school, faculty and institutional level; ramping up student involvement in course review; and improving student involvement in disciplinary procedures.
  • We’ll launch a comprehensive programme of support for student advocates, activists and campaigners, providing unrivalled tools for students to go out and change their world
  • We’ll review our structures to ensure we’re campaigning on the issues that matter to students, increasing the use of consultation, polling and online/offline debate especially over controversial issues.
  • We’ll launch service promises in our Advice and Housing functions, a student led new student buddy scheme to reduce drop out, systematically convert our casework into policy work that prevents students, and develop a new partnership with the University’s student support service (formerly DOS), working together to prevent student problems, use resource efficiently and enhance student input into our services.

And then we’ll go further:

  • We investigate representative structures in halls and community housing to coordinate welfare projects and campaigns.
  • We’ll try out new ways to develop policy and carry out research, involving students from across the University and demography in formative discussions about their lives, their interests and the student experience.
  • We’ll publish an annual “Student Experience” study that brings together key insights and statistics for University decision makers on the student body, its needs and views.

The impact

  • 85% of our members will agree that the union “is an effective representative body”
  • 75% of students will agree that the Union is “campaigning on the issues that matter to me”
  • 80% students will know about the Union and University’s support services and how to access them