What your reps are up to...

NSU reps volunteer to speak up for Northumbria students, giving their time to improve the student experience. This blog is their place to share views and updates, and we hope it gives an interesting insight into some of the work going on to speak up for students at Northumbria. 

Thank You and Goodbye

So this is going to be my final blog as your Department Representative for Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing (SWECW) and I apologise as it’s going to be quite lengthy. It has been an amazing 3 years with a lot of ups and downs, but it is time to pass the role onto someone new. My successor is Chloe Robson and I know she will do a phenomenal job taking over this role and continue to listen to your voices and stand up for your rights. Chloe’s email address is chloe4.robson@northumbria.sc.uk . If you have anything you need your Department Representative for in the SWECW department after 2nd July (my retirement date), please contact Chloe.

At the beginning of this academic year I set myself some goals to achieve throughout the year. In regards to these, I feel like I have achieved three out of the four goals. I have ensured students feedback has been taken forward and action is taken. I have engaged with the Programme Reps who have worked extremely hard this year for everyone. I have met with members of staff to help develop the professional relationship between staff and students. Unfortunately, trying to get Coach Lane Campus to feel included with City Campus is going to take a lot longer than anticipated.

There have been a lot of successes this year and I am not going to take all the credit for them because if it wasn’t for you, the students, informing your Programme Reps and all the Department Reps, change would not be thought about let alone happen. I would like to thank every single one of you for your continuous engagement, support and communication with myself and the other Department Reps which allow us to take action on a much larger scale. If I could name every single one of you and thank you individually then I would.

There have been regular meetings such as the Department Rep Lunches and the Faculty Education Committee (FEC) meetings which I have attended when possible. They have been interesting but also intriguing and I have got to thank all the members of staff who attended these meetings and made not only myself but my fellow Department and Equality Reps feel welcome and comfortable to speak openly about any concerns or issues that are occurring across the University.

Promoting and encouraging students to become representatives has been wonderful. Helping us understand what is important to you is vital and therefore advocating on your behalf has been amazing. This was emphasised at the Programme Rep Training sessions (the 17 sessions I was involved with), where we heard what is happening within each department and how we can work together to make a difference. It was also fantastic to see so many come to the training sessions and want to work with us and make change happen across all three campuses and nationwide.

Towards the end of December was the Academic Congregation Dinner. This, like I have said in my ‘Notorious November and Delightful December’ blog, was a very humbling experience. Reflecting back, it goes to show how much the staff appreciate the students and the representatives. All our hard work allowed us to be invited and I do have to thank Deputy Vice Chancellor, Peter Francis again for this invitation to such a splendid evening. I also have to thank Professor Dianne Ford (Pro Vice-Chancellor for Health and Life Sciences) for another invite to the Academic Congregation Dinner in July. I am very humbled to know that all the hard work we do allows us to be recognised in such a magnificent way.

In the new year as many of you know, I had tonsillitis, so I was out of action for quite a while however, as soon as I felt fine again, I was back in action- can’t keep me away for long when it comes to academic matters. One of the first things both myself and Jemma (fellow Department Rep for Nursing, Midwifery and Health) did was speak with Chartwells about the food at Coach Lane Campus in both Foragers and Communitea. We have already noticed a lot of improvements from this meeting such as clear signage for the meal deals, more variety of drinks and snacks provided, a menu being uploaded onto the Coach Lane Campus Facebook Page each week, and many more. We do acknowledge this is something which does need to be monitored closely as time goes on to ensure it keeps up to this standard. We also found out that parking permits are now available for staff and students of the university. This is to make sure no members of the public use our car parks and that there are plenty of car parking spaces available for staff and students throughout the year. This will also be a continuing matter that will be monitored closely.

The awards season came upon us starting with the Education Awards, Activities Awards and the Annual Awards. Congratulations to everyone who was nominated. Also, congratulations to the Coach Lane Reps at the Annuals (which I later found out, this included me) for the hard work trying to keep Coach Lane Campus Café and Shop open through starting a petition and gaining over 200 signatures. Also, thank you to the person who nominated me for Lifetime Achievement award- even just to be nominated is a success in itself. The Student Led Teaching Awards (SLTAs) was a phenomenal success for members of staff. The Health and Life Sciences (HLS) Faculty was absolutely outstanding by the sheer quality and quantity of nominations received and number of wins they got. Also, well done to my fellow representatives who presented these awards. It was my third year (and probably final year) doing the SLTAs so even though I was petrified to do two speeches, I got through it and it was a ‘fabulous’ evening. To add to this, Professor Dianne Ford had the following to say in regards to the success of the HLS Faculty at the SLTAs:

“I was delighted by and proud of the very many successes for our faculty.  Winning 8 of the 13 awards provides real evidence of the what I already know is a superb team of people in the faculty who are completely committed to providing students with the very best experience. I have congratulated and thanked all colleagues who won or were nominated, and also thanked everyone whose contributions give students the excellent overall experience that motivates them to nominate colleagues. Big thanks to you, our students, for taking the time to nominate.  Thanks also to Grace, Jemma James, Kayleigh McElderry- Wilkinson, and Jack Beckett for representing our faculty on the committee.  Making final decisions was an enormous task.”

I only have a few more people to thank because without them and their support, I would not be the person I am today- cheesy I know. So here we go! A massive thank you to my fellow Department Reps for just being amazing and making me feel like a part of the team across the three years. The ‘fabulous’ Karl Robson for being an amazing Vice President of Education (have fun next year). The rest of the Sabb team, Ryan and Simon I hope you have a great time next year too. Kristy and Tally, it will be sad to see you leave but you have both been amazing these past years!  Everyone in The Base who deserve so much credit for the hard work they put in behind the scenes. Whenever I say hello or have a question you are all so welcoming and friendly and those qualities in staff at Northumbria Uni are important qualities to have. And for the two best mentors I have ever had who have known me since day one and know me as being extremely modest but have seen me come on leaps and bounds, the irreplaceable and legendary Dan and Jorga. You are amazing and thank you for helping me develop not only academically but also personally- no clue what I would have done without either of you.   

So this blog has now come to an end, and all I can say is, as Frank Sinatra would say because I am an old soul apparently born in the wrong era, “And now, the end is near and so I face the final curtain”. Thank You and Goodbye. :) 


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