The first University of Nottingham Students’ Union (UoNSU) scrutiny panel of the spring semester took place on Monday 3rd February 2014. The purpose of the panel, which is made up of cross-campus elected students, is to hear the progress of the full time SU Executive Officers and the part time SU Environment & Social Justice Officer in their work and to hold them to account for what they have done.
SU Sports Officer, Tom Hicks, reported that the Varsity season has so far been a success. Although Varsity event management is not his job, he oversees the process. In particular he mentioned the ice hockey, stating that he received good feedback from the Vice Chancellor for the event.
SU Activities Officer, Will Knapp, reported that he intended to devote a lot of his time in the coming weeks to researching for Graduation Ball, specifically through focus groups. Will added that he was working with staff to plan out sessions that would guarantee representation of student views across the board.
He also said that he was working on a summer event on the scale of the old Summer Party, although he “couldn’t say too much about it yet”. He thought that January’s Refresher’s Fair went well but acknowledged some problems with space, commenting that he would like to see it “bigger and better” next year.
Dasha Karzunina, the SU Education Officer, had the most to discuss. Dasha was questioned about the progression of her plans to have recording equipment available for all lectures, labs and seminars.
She explained that the necessary equipment is now available on all lecterns and that many lectures are now recorded. The panel asked if this could also be extended to other types of learning session.
There has been some resistance against recording seminars as these types of sessions may contain confidential discussions.
Dasha explained that a programme called Echo 360 needs to be installed on a computer in the classroom to enable recording, and that it is ultimately up to individual tutors to decide whether they wish to record their sessions.
Most members of staff are happy to record open lectures, she said, but there has been some resistance against recording seminars as these types of sessions may contain confidential discussions.
The University does not wish to have to introduce a policy on recording learning sessions.
However, Dasha claimed to be “pushing” to make this more commonplace, explaining that change could only come about through “shifting attitudes” and “making staff aware”, adding that the University does not wish to have to introduce a policy on recording learning sessions.
She also said that she is currently working to improve the resources that are available on Moodle, in particular to make all research on Moodle open access. Although she did warn that there are “barriers in terms of IT” that are “stopping that from happening right now”.
She admitted that some lecturers don’t use Moodle effectively, noting that the training that they currently receive on how to use Moodle “isn’t great” and, furthermore, is not compulsory.
Again, she stressed that it was a question of changing the attitudes of staff rather than implementing a policy. However, she did say that increasingly more and more staff are putting resources on Moodle and that things are moving in a “positive direction”.
[Dasha’s] original manifesto points have taken a back seat recently because she has had to attend an increasing number of high level meetings in the Registrar’s office.
In addition, Dasha mentioned that she had been liaising with Education Representatives about the possibility of introducing reading weeks, adding that they had been ”discussing the implications” of doing so in recent weeks.
She finally highlighted that her original manifesto points have taken a back seat recently because she has had to attend an increasing number of high level meetings in the Registrar’s office, for which she has had to be briefed and prepared for, which has therefore taken up her time.
Students want to know the results of SET, but there is some resistance from lecturers who “don’t want to be publicly humiliated.”
Postgraduate Officer, Laura Theobald seemed aware of many of the same issues as Dasha. She also mentioned a proposal to publish the results of Student Evaluation of Modules (SET). Students want to know the results of SET, she claimed, but there is some resistance from lecturers who “don’t want to be publicly humiliated.”
Abiodun (Mike) Olatokun, SU Environment and Social Justice Officer, mentioned a recent meeting with local Councillors about issues in Lenton.
He claimed that the meeting had resulted in a “meaty conversation” about the general atmosphere of the neighbourhood, with one resident in attendance insisting that students deserve the fines that they are charged when they engage in antisocial behaviour.
The block grant the SU had been given at the beginning of the year was “used up on other projects”.
In addition, he has been working on a democratic policy that details how the SU will make the transition to paying all staff a “living wage”.
Finally, SU President, Ellie McWilliam, was questioned closely about why the University’s Executive Board was asked for extra funding from the SU.
National Student Survey (NSS) results are “not looking great”.
Ellie explained that the block grant the SU had been given at the beginning of the year was “used up on other projects”, and as the National Student Survey (NSS) results are “not looking great”, it was decided that further resources were needed to expand the Education Network, to achieve the best representation for students.
The next SU Council is on Tuesday 11th March at 6.30pm.
If you missed the last SU Council, click here for a summary of the motions that passed and failed.