Mark Barrow - Undeb Bangor President

Mark Barrow
01248 388001
Mark.Barrow@UndebBangor.com

Mark Barrow graduated with a History with Journalism degree in 2018, and was Undeb Bangor’s Vice President for Education during the 2018=19 academic year. He has now been elected to serve as your President.

During his time as a student, Mark actively got involved in many different University and Students’ Union roles and activities. He was a Course Rep for three years, and during that time he organised two student-led trips, to Berlin and Krakow, and Prague. Mark’s work as a Course Rep saw him win the prestigious Ede and Ravenscroft award, in 2017. Mark also represented the University as an Open Day assistant, besides becoming a member of the ‘Bangor Fund’ Telethon team.

During his time as your VP for Education, Mark led on many different Student Union campaigns and activities. He set up the No Grey Area campaign, which attempts to raise awareness of the issues of sexual harassment and assault at University campuses, and to highlight that any student can receive appropriate support from within the University. He also set up a house reviewing platform, called Marks Out Of Tenancy, so that students have a reliable place to review their student property. Mark also worked with students, particularly Course Reps, in responding to the University’s restructuring process, and reformed ‘Course Rep Council’ to make it a more discussion-focused and relevant forum.

As President, Mark will be continuing to make sure that you are being listened to. He will continue with some of the campaigns that he has already been working on, such as No Grey Area and a ‘Don’t Panic’ housing campaign. He will be setting up Undeb Bangor’s Job Shop, so that any student is aware of where to find part-time work, and extra money, whilst studying in Bangor. He will be trying to make ‘sustainability’, and ‘employability’, embedded into Student Union activities, and is the main point of contact between the student body, local community and Bangor University.

For more information, you can contact Mark at mark.barrow@undebbangor.com, by giving him a ring on 01248 388001, or by calling into the Students’ Union. He is happy to meet with any student, to ensure that you are being heard!

Wed 26 Feb 2020

President February Update

Hello everyone. I hope you are enjoying the new semester, and that any exams you had during January went as well as you had hoped.

As you may have noticed on social media, and through our weekly newsletter, the past few weeks have been very busy for all of us at Undeb Bangor. I have highlighted a few of the major points here, but feel free to get in touch with me if you would like more information about anything.

Coronavirus outbreak – zero tolerance to harassment

As I’m sure you’ve seen, the University and Undeb Bangor are continuing to closely monitor the outbreak of Coronavirus, which originated in China. We are continuing to act on the advice of UK authorities.

Regrettably, there have been reports nationally of some individuals being racially harassed or avoided. We condemn such behaviour, and want to be clear that Bangor University, and Undeb Bangor, will not tolerate any incidents of this nature.

We have a zero tolerance to harassment policy and are committed to providing a safe and supportive environment where all students are treated with dignity and respect. We believe that you should be able to live and study in a University where you can be yourself, get involved in every opportunity and reach your full potential.

If you have any questions or concerns about this, please do get in touch with me.

University and College Union (UCU) Strikes

You’ve probably been made aware that members of the University and College Union (UCU) recently voted to take 14 days of strike action, in February and March, which takes place over a period of four weeks. This begins on Thursday 20th February, with the final planned day of striking being the Friday 13th March.

Undeb Bangor accepts the issues surrounding the strikes as legitimate concerns for the future of Higher Education. These issues include pay, equality and workload. However, we disagree with the continued disruption to your education. We believe that further strike action, in the lead up to the exams period, could have a detrimental impact on students’ education and experience.

We will keep you updated as the industrial action progresses. If you have any concerns or questions, we encourage you to get in touch with staff within your subject area, although you can always contact us at: studentvoice@undebbangor.com.

For further information about the strikes, including an FAQ page, visit our website: https://www.undebbangor.com/news/article/6013/Statement-on-UCU-Strikes/.

Employability Week/Student Opportunities Fair

Bangor University’s Employability Week took place between Monday 10th and Friday 14th of February, and Undeb Bangor was more involved in preparing for the week than we have been in previous years.

Undeb Bangor recognises that employability is a pressing concern for many students, and that it is important for students to document all their skills and experiences during their time in higher education. This means we have made employability an Undeb Bangor priority.

As a result, we closely collaborated with the Skills and Employability Service in preparation for Employability Week, which included housing many of the week’s employability-related sessions, including CV-writing and job application workshops, within Undeb Bangor’s premises. We also ensured there was an Undeb Bangor presence at the majority of sessions.

Also, you may have noticed that our Student Opportunities Fair took place on the Wednesday of Employability Week. The Fair is effectively our ‘semester two Serendipity’, which gives students a chance to look at some of the opportunities Undeb Bangor facilitates. It is also a chance for University and external services to come and speak to students.

However, one other motivation for the Fair is to allow Student Volunteering Bangor (SVB) to receive more momentum than they receive at Serensipity, as clubs and societies tend to receive more recognition at Serendipity. This also aligns with Undeb Bangor employability message, as we believe that volunteering projects specifically allow students to broaden their employability skills and experience, such as through working with children or the elderly.

Trains campaign/petition

Over the past few weeks, I have launched Undeb Bangor’s trains campaign. This is in response to comments we’ve received from students about there being a reduction to the train service in North Wales, particularly into Bangor station.

As a result, Undeb Bangor have identified this is a prevalent student concern, and have been practical in trying to address it. We have set up a short survey on our website, which allows students to let us know their experiences of using the train, and for them to list their main concerns with the service. It is important that we collate as much data as possible.

We will be using this data in subsequent communication and discussion. We will be petitioning the Welsh Government about the state of the train service, in addition to sending an open letter to Transport for Wales documenting the issues. I will also be meeting with local politicians, including the local MP and AM, to discuss these issues further.

Sexual health campaign

Another campaign we are hoping to launch is around sexual health. This is on the back of something we have already set up at Undeb Bangor – providing students with free sexual health products, including condoms.

I spoke to a sexual health consultant at Ysbyty Gwynedd hospital recently, requesting collaborating on a joint campaign. He agreed for one of his colleagues, a trained nurse, to come into the University to meet with students who may want specific information about sexual health, and to provide them with information as to where to access help locally.

In addition, we agreed to work with him on a campaign he facilitates, called ‘Sextember’, which raises awareness of basic sexual health information. We will be running this campaign during September, including welcome week, as we believe it’s important for first year students to be aware of this information.  

Law Internal Quality Audit

As part of my role as President, I am a member of ‘Internal Quality Audits’ (IQAs), which are set up to audit academic schools on a five-year basis. There are usually three of these audits during an academic year, with the most recent one being the School of Law. The next one will be the School of Medical Sciences.

These audits are important, as they investigate the full operation of academic schools, including teaching and learning, and the overall student experience. They also involve interviewing students within the school, to help get a sense of their experiences.

Following the audit process, a report is written to the school with recommendations of how they could improve and also with a list of commendations that the panel noted.

University strategies – Teaching and Learning, Health and Wellbeing, Civic Engagement etc.

As I’ve mentioned previously, the University is currently developing its strategic direction, which means I’ve been asked to input into many different strategies. These include the developing Teaching and Learning Strategy, Student Experience Strategy, and the Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

It is clearly of vital importance that the student experience is reflected in these strategies, which is why I dedicate lots of time to ensuring I can input into them. It is also important to note that the strategies all align to the overall direction of the institution, which further highlights the importance of Undeb Bangor’s input, and also the strong partnership between the University and Undeb Bangor.

You will be kept updated as these strategies develop.

 

As ever, do feel free to get in touch with me, and I look forward to seeing you soon.

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Wed 04 Dec 2019

December Update from me, Mark, your President!

Mark Barrow, President

Hello everyone. I hope you have had an enjoyable semester, and that you are looking forward to a well-earned break over the Christmas holidays.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the last few weeks have been incredibly busy for Undeb Bangor, and there is still a lot more to come before the end of semester one! I’ll highlight some main points here, but do feel free to get in touch with me if you’d like more clarity or information.

University and College Union (UCU) strikes

I’m sure that you’re aware of the strike action taking place in Bangor by some members of UCU. The striking began on 25th November, lasting until 4th December. Undeb Bangor supports the rights of staff at the University to take action on issues that affect them and their members. However, our priority is our students and we are working with the University to mitigate against any adverse effects that strike action might have on students.

For further information about the strikes, you can find a Q&A page on our website: https://www.undebbangor.com/strikeqanda/. Do feel free to get in touch with us if you feel that you have been adversely affected. Our Academic Caseworker is also happy to speak to you if you would like to make a complaint about being personally affected.

Bangor Student Survey

Our Bangor Student Survey has been launched and will close on the 7th of January 2020. We are asking questions on everything from your academic experience to their wider student experience. Taking part in the survey leads to evidence-led recommendations being made to the University and through our Student Experience Report.

Please do spend a few minutes filling in the survey to inform your Students’ Union on what you’d like us to be working on. You may also be in with a shout of winning one of our great prizes!

Student-led Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy

We are very pleased to have launched our new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which has been completely informed by the student body. We officially launched it during our Destresstival campaign, but will be further promoting it during Study Aid, which is taking place during the January exam period.

This innovative strategy will let the University know what exactly causes poor mental health and wellbeing for students, besides what preventative measures could be put in place to reduce poor mental health. This is in addition to letting the University know what more could be done to help students who are suffering. It is only right that such a strategy is led and directed by students, which is why we are very pleased to be launching it.

Volunteering Social Impact Report

You may be aware that we have been working on compiling a Social Impact Report based on the breadth of our volunteering projects. This report will showcase the massive benefits that volunteering has upon students, and the local community in Bangor.

I’ve already let different areas of the University know about it, and we will be using it to promote the excellent work that takes place in Student Volunteering Bangor (SVB). It can also be the basis for generating positive news stories, which will help show local people how much Undeb Bangor does for the community.

‘Green Gown’ Awards and Think Before you Drink

Over the past year, we have been working collaboratively with the University’s Catering team and the Sustainability Lab in producing the Think Before you Drink campaign. This campaign focuses on what Bangor University has done to make its catering products and outlets more sustainable, such as by reducing waste. One example of the work done in this area was to make available Bangor University-branded reusable hot drink mugs, and by introducing a 10p discount when customers use reusable mugs.

The campaign was a finalist at the annual Green Gown awards, which took place in Glasgow on 26th November. The awards recognise innovative ways that UK Higher Education institutions have attempted to be more sustainable. Despite now winning the award, being recognised at this level was a huge credit to the work that has gone into the campaign.

This campaign is only one example of how Undeb Bangor has been working on the sustainability agenda. Since Bangor University accepted our request of declaring a Climate Emergency, we have been holding them to account on making positive changes. Undeb Bangor has also been playing its part, such as by installing a Teracycle bin for single-use plastic waste.

Community Waste Visits

Towards the end of this semester, we will be going around Bangor and visiting student properties. This is with the intention of letting students know how to manage their waste effectively, and by specifying what items can be recycled in this area. It is also an opportunity to order new recycling bins, should any students need them, and to find out when your waste is collected.

Don’t Panic Housing Campaign

Earlier in November, Undeb Bangor and the University’s housing team launched our Don’t Panic campaign, which is aimed at letting students know that they shouldn’t rush into signing up for a property, but should take their time to have a look around before making a decision.

Later in this academic year, we will be doing more work on housing. This will include further promotion of our Marks Out of Tenancy house reviewing platform, and by launching our Landlord Awards. These are a great opportunity to recognise the great work carried out by many of Bangor’s landlords to make their student tenants feel welcome and appreciated.

University meetings/committees

As previously mentioned, much of my time is spent attending University committee meetings, to ensure that the student body if fully represented.

On 28th November, for example, I attended a University Strategic Development Day, which focused on the University’s strategic direction. I also attend many high-level meetings where the running of the University is discussed, in conjunction with Bangor’s main strategic priorities. These include the Academic Strategy Group, and the Employability Strategy Group.

As ever, do feel free to get in touch with me, and I look forward to seeing you soon.

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Fri 11 Oct 2019

How are we already in October?

Hi everyone. I felt like now was a good time to update you on what I have been working on over the past couple of months, and what I am working on for later in the semester. Everyone in the Students’ Union has been very busy over the past few weeks, so finding the time to reflect on what you’ve actually been working on can be quite difficult!

I also cannot believe that we’re now in October! It doesn’t seem two minutes since the summer, when everything seemed really quiet, and now, all of a sudden, welcome week has been and gone!

Also, I am continuing to enjoy working with the rest of the Sabb team. Everyone is so motivated to make a positive impact within their different areas. It really is a pleasure to be a part of.

Wider engagement with the student body

One of my priorities, which has developed into a Sabbatical team priority, is around letting you know what the Students’ Union is working on, and to ensure you’re aware of what you can get involved in. This was in my manifesto, and I’m pleased to say that it is being actioned upon. With the help of my colleague, Conor, we have put together an engagement plan, whereby all the Sabb team go into lectures, besides into libraries and different communal areas, to provide you with regular updated. I’m sure you’ll be starting to see a lot more of us!

This idea stemmed from feedback we’ve had in the past that we don’t go out and speak to students enough. I completely agree that it is never enough to just put something on social media, or just send an email. We also have to be out and about, letting you know what we do, and equally letting you know what you are able to get involved in.

Employability

Bangor University has gone through quite a dramatic and turbulent few months, and it’s really important that I remain aware of what is happening, so that your voice continues to be heard. We now have a new Vice Chancellor in place, Professor Iwan Davies, and he has brought some innovative and exciting ideas to Bangor.

This has all meant that there is new direction for the University in many areas. The Vice Chancellor’s number one priority is ‘employability’, and this is something I completely agree with. We have to ensure that all students are fully prepared for the world of work, and that you’re being given the relevant skills and experience. This is why a new Employability Strategy is being introduced, which I have been feeding into. One of the best examples of progress in this area is the announcement that, as of this September, work placement opportunities will be introduced on every single undergraduate degree programme.

In addition, I believe that Student Union activities provide students with excellent transferable skills, which you can take into the workplace. For example, if you are a committee member for a particular club, society or volunteering project, you are able to gain skills in leadership and representation, besides confidence and public speaking. That is why I am working to ensure employability is at the heart of all our activities.

Sustainability

Similarly, I am working on embedding ‘sustainability’ into all areas of the Students’ Union. This is something many students are passionate about, and we have recently recruited a student-staff member to help with this. It is important to remember that sustainability is not just environmental,

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Thu 11 Jul 2019

New role, new responsibilities!

Hi everyone. As you’ll know, I have now become President of Undeb Bangor, having previously been the Vice President for Education. Although some of my work, over the next year, will be a continuation of what I was working on before, there are many new responsibilities which I am looking forward to taking on.

This blog post will recap on some of the projects and campaigns I have been working on, and also provide an indication of my work for the next year!

VP for Education successes

I very much enjoyed being your Vice President for Education, and I believe that lots was achieved over the past year. This is all thanks to the help and support I received from the Sabbatical team, Student Union staff, and, of course, the students who I was elected to serve.

I wanted to put on record a few of the projects that I am most proud of, and which I believe had a positive impact upon students.

The first one I wanted to mention is the No Grey Area campaign. Sexual harassment and violence is a huge concern for universities in general, and for far too long it had not been dealt with adequately. In Bangor, we are lucky in that a dedicated Student Equality and Diversity Officer has recently been employed, and her job is to support any student who has been a victim of harassment, violence or bullying.

I wanted to explain to students that the University can internally support any student in this situation, and that action can be taken against perpetrators. The campaign explained this to students, and showed that there is solidarity in the fight against sexual violence and harassment.

I am also pleased that the usage of Panopto has significantly increased, over the past year. In meetings, I constantly explain why Panopto is hugely beneficial to many students, and should be seen as a tool to benefit students’ learning. There is still a long way to go, but I am pleased the usage has continued to go in the right direction.

I have always been passionate for the environment, and sustainability, which meant I wanted to explore how I can work with students to make Bangor a sustainable place to live. I believe that one of the main ways to do this is to raise awareness of what items can be recycled, in Bangor, and to inform students of when their rubbish gets collected. By carrying out Community Waste Visits, which involve knocking on doors to raise this awareness, I hope students can become better informed of how to deal with their waste.

These are a few highlights of what I worked upon. I am confident that the new VP for Education, Harry, will do an excellent job of taking some of these projects forward, and in representing students’ academic interests.

New responsibilities

Over the next year, I will be taking on new roles and responsibilities. I will be attending many more of the University meetings, where decisions are made, and in particular I will be attending University Council. Essentially, this is the Governing Body of Bangor University, where ideas and changes either get passed or rejected. As one of the two student representatives on Council, I am there to ensure students’ views are taken into account when any decision is being made.

Also, as President, I am ultimately responsible for the Students’ Union as a whole. This means I present Undeb Bangor’s budget to the University, and I’m responsible for the financial and legal decisions that we make. As President, I automatically become Chair of the Board of Trustees, which is our internal decision-making body.

Besides this, I am responsible for the Student Union’s work within the local community, and I am the main mediator between the student body and Bangor University.

Plans for the next year

I am confident that the next year is going to be highly successful. We have a fantastic set of Sabbatical Officers in place, who have a huge amount of experience within their areas. Therefore, I am optimistic that we will work as a coherent team in representing the views of the student body.

I have been prioritising my plans for the next year, and wanted to mention a few of them here.

Firstly, I fully intend to continue with the No Grey Area campaign, and will be carrying out this campaign during the first week of December. The campaign will specifically look at harassment and bullying online, specifically on social media, as this is increasingly becoming a huge concern. The message of the campaign will be that, as is the case when a comment is made to somebody’s face, online content can lead to action being taken against individuals.

Also, I will be continuing to work on housing-related campaigns and ideas. I will be continuing the Don’t Panic campaign, in November, which informs students that there is no need to rush into signing up for a house, and that there is a surplus of accommodation in Bangor. In addition, I will be further pushing the use of our house reviewing platform, Marks Out Of Tenancy, which gives students the opportunity to submit a review of their house, based on its location, quality, responsiveness of the landlord, and price.

As was the case over the past year, I will continue to take a lead of sustainability and waste-related campaigns. I will be carrying out the Wrap it Up campaign, at the end of the academic year, to inform students of what they should do before leaving the house. I will also be carrying out Community Waste Visits, throughout the year, to raise awareness to students of what can be recycled in the area.

I will also be working with local businesses to provide a section, on the Student Union website, of where part-time job vacancies can get posted. For many students, getting extra money is hugely important, and so part-time work is often the way to do this. I think that by teaming up with businesses, we can provide this service to students, so that they know where they can find work.

I am also in talks with the local MP, Hywel Williams, about the train service to/from Bangor. Understandably, many students feel that the train service isn’t adequate, both due to frequencies of trains, cost and quality of the service. We are beginning communication with Transport for Wales about this, in an attempt to improve the service for Bangor University students.

One of my main priorities for the year is to increase the Students Union’s presence around the University. I believe this will help ensure students know what we are working on, and how they can get involved. The way to do this is through face-to-face interaction, such as through lecture shout-outs, and through communicating messages at society meetings.

There will be many more ideas and projects coming to fruition, throughout the year, so stay tuned for updates. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at mark.barrow@undebbangor.com, or by ringing 01248 388001.

Many thanks,

Mark Barrow

Undeb Bangor President, 2019-20

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