SRC Sabb Blog #6 – Student President
Throughout the academic year, your GUSRC sabbatical officers will provide an update on the work they’ve been carrying out to make your experience at the University of Glasgow even better. Our sixth blog comes from your SRC President Kate Powell
Hello everyone, the last few months have been hectic to say the least! With the Beast from the East postponing our elections and staff striking nationally, it hasn’t been quiet at the SRC. It is important to me that this blog is centred on industrial action- an issue affecting our whole University. We really value our staff community and want our students to understand the current situation.
Over the past month, around 400 UofG staff have been on strike protesting the proposed changes to their pensions. This is a national dispute, on which the University has published a statement which is available here. Along with our staff community, we are incredibly frustrated that a deal has not been reached. Staff deserve a fair pension and we will continue to push the University to lobby Universities UK (UUK) to help preserve pensions and review the scheme evaluation methodology, which many say gives an inaccurate picture of its financial position.
We have had a significant number of fee-paying students email us frustrated at the potential impact of the strike action on their studies and asking about the potential for compensation for their missed classes and supervision. Our focus has been on urging the University to minimise the impact on students’ studies and preventing graduation dates from being affected. I understand why students are frustrated, but it is important to remember that staff don’t want to put students in this situation – they don’t want to strike, but this action is about their pension security being at risk. The bigger picture should be considered.
However, it is not just us that students are expressing their concerns to, I imagine our University and all of the others affected, are being inundated with enquiries about tuition fees. I think it is important to remind universities across the UK that charging fees influences students’ expectations. Fees marketise higher education, changing the relationship between students and the institution; students become customers and the concept of value for money is driven to the fore.
Regarding the impact this has had on learning and teaching – we do not think the guidance the university has put out is enough. To say that ‘students will not be assessed on content for which they have not been prepared’ is vague and the Schools will interpret this differently. We are seeking further clarity as to what this means, and what the impact on the students supporting the strike will be.
So what’s next?
- It is highly likely that University and College Union (UCU) will carry out more strike action unless there is a more realistic proposal put forward.
- At this point, the impact on exams is unknown.
- We are waiting on further information from UCU. We will lobby the University to put procedures in place to allow students to complete their studies and graduate on time. We will demand clearer information.
For more information from the University: https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/students/campus/new/headline_575440_en.html
Moving away from the strikes, there have been a number of positive developments in the SRC, including launching a new scheme, holding our elections and securing developments in Moodle.
Rate Your Landlord Scheme
Through our Advice Centre, we are pleased to announce that we will be promoting a new service to students – a rate your landlord scheme called Marks Out of Tenancy. This is similar to Trip Advisor, where you find property on a map, submit your review and landlords and agencies have an opportunity to respond. We see this as a major step forward – it will increase transparency and accountability, something which we know is lacking in the renting sector.
On March 8th, the winners of our Spring Elections were announced. All of the candidates were excellent, I’m sure next year will be a fantastic year for the SRC and I’m excited to see what the student representatives will do to improve the student experience. Best of luck to Lauren, Emma, Fatemeh and Scott, you’ll smash it!
During my time as VP Education last year, I pushed the University to allow students to access their Moodle courses after each year, developing an archive of their courses. This would mean students would have access to all their feedback, essays, readings lists and assignments allowing for reflection. I am pleased to say that this has finally been approved and hopefully as of September, this will be implemented. Information Services are pursuing this development and we are in regular contact.
We’re coming to the end of the academic year and exam season is fast approaching. Good luck with all of your exams and deadlines and follow our de-stress campaign through the Look After Yourself page. Whether you’re wanting to talk over what the industrial action will mean for you or want to come chat to us about an issue, our door is always open. Feel free to pop by the McIntyre Building or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow what we’re doing on Twitter at @GUSRC_President we still have three months left in our roles and a lot left to do!