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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.