Enterprise Strategy

Student Advocacy- We’ve got your back

Our role

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

We’ve done 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. Despite major strides forward we know that students still think that we ban too often and consult too little. We know that when students want help, they turn to other students first and this needs to be central to our plans. And too few students are aware of their rights as a student, tenant or employee- and how to enforce them.

Our ambitions:

  • We’ll provide unrivalled support, training and development for student representatives and activists to change their course, their community and their world.
  • We’ll use evidence and research from the whole student body to promote, defend and extend the rights of students.
  • Throughout UEA, students will work in partnership with academics and administrators to develop proposals and solve problems.
  • We’ll provide an independent, flexible and effective student advice and advocacy service that uses stats and stories to drive policy change.

In 2016-17:

  • We published a Student Experience Report with over 80% of our recommendations acted on, had a “Quality Conversation” with over 300 students every week on key student life issues that need policy change, launched impactful research on Health Sciences students and Associate Tutors, and developed the student representation code with new standards.
  • We launched service promises in our Advice and Housing functions, piloted a new student led student buddy scheme to reduce drop out, began to convert our casework into policy work, and embarked on a new partnership with UEA’s Student Support Service, working together to prevent problems, use resource efficiently and enhance input into services.

In 2017-18:

  • We’ll review structures and systems to ensure we’re working on the issues that matter most to students- increasing the use of consultation, polling and debate (especially over controversial issues), and developing innovative ways to involve students in formative policy development discussions about their lives, their interests and the student experience.
  • We’ll finalise and launch a student insight strategy- with a new national SU research partnership, on campus segmented research generating rich understanding of the lives and experiences of students, a UEA student opinion panel to gather regular feedback, and a new partnership with UEA’s Business Intelligence Unit on consultation planning, data access and support.
  • We’ll roll out our Lead:Change programme and wider Student Leadership review- involving hundreds more students as leaders, diversifying our participants, enhancing their skills and dramatically increasing the control that students can exert on their SU.
  • We’ll enhance peer support- delivering a full launch of our buddying scheme, piloting a new scheme inviting UEA’s alumni to support students entering their final year, reviewing and enhancing our support for Peer Support Groups in conjunction with UEA’s Student Support Service, and negotiating powerful new statutory societies for each of our Liberation groups.
  • We’ll reshape our Advice Service around student protections by clarifying and promoting new rights emerging from consumer law, supporting students to make complaints where justified- and we’ll promote rights work about employment and housing too.
  • We’ll run a series of projects focussed on improving support for student representation & feedback, improving the effectiveness and student awareness of institutional level representation and improving the dissemination of its impacts; identifying top student issues for action at school, faculty and institutional level; establishing significant education policy focussed conference events for reps; empowering reps to intervene on improvements required from subject level TEF; and ramping up student involvement in course review.

In 2018-20 we’ll go further:

  • We’ll launch a new student:community compact- focussed first on housing, working with the council and the HEis to ensure that supply outstrips demand as the University expands, seeing off damaging HMO regulation, gathering student feedback on landlords and improving the scope and reach of our housing accreditation scheme.
  • We’ll work with Student Support Services to implement lessons from our HEFCE funded “changing the culture” project, better coordinating support for victims of harassment and improving campus support for student disciplinary investigations and hearings.
  • We’ll develop pioneering work on student communities- mapping social interaction on campus, and working to support student faith groups, students in the city and academic societies to achieve their potential.
  • We’ll argue for significant change in complaints handling on campus through the establishment of a campus ombudsperson, and we’ll improve student involvement in campus disciplinary procedures.

The impact- by 2020:

  • 80% of our members will agree that the SU “effectively represents students’ academic interests” (Now- TBC July 2017)[1]
  • 80% of students will recognise the SU’s priority campaigns (Now- 68%)[2]
  • 80% students will know about the SU and University’s support services and how to access them[3]

[1] National Student Survey 2016, Question 26

[2] UEASU Annual Student Survey Jan 2017

[3] To be tested via UEA student experience research