May Blog by President Kevin McStravock

Hi folks – so the semester has finally finished and for some of you, the academic year (or indeed your university career) has reached an end. Those of you less fortunate will be getting yourself ready for the exam period, make sure to take full advantage of our tea and coffee giveaways and there might be a few puppies making an appearance during the period.

UUSU student officers at USI congress

The last month has been another action-packed one for us here at UUSU. We started off with a trip to USI Congress in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, the last of the three national conferences. This brought together delegates from Students’ Unions across the island of Ireland to discuss and agree policy on a range of priority student issues including Higher Education funding and student poverty. I was joined by the VP Coleraine, VP Jordanstown, Sports President and a few our Student Councillors. It was a worthwhile and rewarding few days.

The Students’ Union also assisted the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education), Professor Paul Bartholomew in carrying out student consultations on the new degree algorithm proposals. The proposed changes to the Degree Algorithm (the method used to calculate your degree classification) will mean that second year will count towards the final degree for all students graduating from 2020 onwards. Dual algorithms will operate for all students currently enrolled who graduate in 2020 or later to ensure they are not disadvantaged by the change. Students will get the opportunity to vote on the final split between second and final year before the end of the year.

I also met with the newly appointed Director of Campus Life, Amanda Castray at the beginning of the month. Amanda’s new role will look after the core elements of the non-academic student experience – Student Support, Catering and Commercial, Sports and Residential Services. We’ve had some really positive meetings so far and hope to make a number of small but noticeable improvements to the on-campus experience in the short term (like the provision of microwaves and the modest refurbishment of the Magee SU space) whilst working towards much larger projects (like simplifying the student journey to get help with a query and ensuring high quality social space is available on every campus).

We also gave students an opportunity to meet with Amanda and other senior officers including Professor Alastair Adair, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Niamh Lamond, Chief Operating Officer at our Student Voice Forums. The forum brought Course and Senior Reps together with members of Senior Management to discuss key issues affecting the student experience on their campus. From evening facilities to use of the campus grounds, discussion was focused, productive and will hopefully result in some meaningful additions to the on-campus student experience.

Finally, in other UUSU news, we interviewed for the Volunteer Coordinator and Academic & Welfare Coordinator – two new posts that will be launching brand new services in the next academic year. We’re really looking forward to welcoming the introduction of the UUSU Advice Centre and to supporting our student volunteers, and more importantly encouraging even more students to volunteer and these new staff members will be key in delivering that.

I’ll finish off by wishing you all the best of luck for the exam period. UUSU are here for you for anything you need – just call into one of our offices and speak to any of the officers.

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