Thursdays are usually one of my busiest days, and today was no exception! I started in style with my usual 9am lecture, and I then went for coffee with a woman that is not only a very good friend, but also someone with a lot of knowledge about postgraduate issues. We had coffee and chatted about the things that I’d like to change about post grad representation, because it’s not working at the moment the way that it is – the PGSA do an admirable job, but most PG students that I’ve spoken to don’t know who they are, what they do, or how they are represented by them.
It turned out to be a day dominated by PG issues, with me bumping into quite a few PGs that I know, and discussing various bits and pieces with them. One of the major issues that comes up is the timing of, for example, elections for Post grads – many PGs don’t work to the same academic year as undergraduate, especially PhD students, which makes continuity on any voluntary role quite difficult when it’s vote in at specific times.
Anyway, I went to see Furness JCR that evening, and we had a quick chat about the sort of things that I’d want to achieve before I dashed off to visit PoliSoc with one of the other candidates. After that I headed off to Union Council, where the new Vice Chancellor was speaking on the Lancaster-Liverpool collaboration. He seemed quite nice, although I did only get to hear the last 20 minutes of questions to him. He told Union Council that:
- He won’t be removing student representation on other university committees and bodies (although it may reduce in relative proportion if the size of the committee reduces). He thinks students have more influence on working groups and meetings than we do at Senate. The current LUSU president offered to write up a recommendation as to what the most important issues regarding the Student experience were, which the VC accepted.
- The effect of the Wilson report on the Uni will be decided later
- When questioned on how he would keep his image positive, he said “I’m not paid to be popular”, but noted that he wanted to engage with the student body in order to make better and informed decisions.
- In terms of the £9,000 tution fees, he wants to make sure students get the best value for money. His team are reviewing the VLE (soon to be Moodle), and he notes that tutorials need to be utilised fully. There’s a long term plan to show where the money from each UG goes, although this can get quite complex in terms of what exactly this funds and why.
- He accepted that the Business Process Review needed more consultation, and that various elements of it needed to be progressed at a different rate with more opportunities for input in order for staff and students to be able to help shape it. For now the plans are limited
- As for the future of the college bars, he’s not sure. On closing college bars he said “it’s not a top priority to reduce the number of bars” and that there is no policy to reduce them, because they are “working OK”.
(Please note that this was literally the last 20 minutes, and I have yet to read the minutes for the earlier part of the meeting, so some of the issues may have further context)
Overall I think the new VC seems like he sees the value of communication with various stakeholders within the University, including LUSU and the student body as a whole. The role of a Vice Chancellor really isn’t just to be popular, it’s to steer the University through what looks to be some pretty challenging times ahead, and he was quite open about the fact he was going to have to make some difficult decisions but that he was willing to engage with students on this.
After I’d been to Union Council, we met in Grizedale bar to go on block runs round Grad and Grizedale – it was Carnage night, however, and so we decided to go to Grad college after about an hour of Grizedaleans telling us they were far too busy drinking to listen to us! It worked out quite well, because we got to speak to lots of people in Grad college and get a different perspective on various issues.
After we’d finished block runs, Maeve and I went to Grad bar because they had a live music night on and also I really really really wanted a glass or two of mead (it’s my new favourite drink, I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered it!). It was a lovely evening, and a wonderful example of what’s so good about Lancaster. The only thing that could have improved it was the weather, because as usual it was drizzling slightly – if only my remit could be extended to weather changing!
Anyway, I’m running a drop in session on Monday – I’ll be in Fylde bar from 11-1, chatting to various different people about what they’d like their VP Events and Democracy to do, so if you fancy discussing any of the issues raised here, please swing by!