With my term in office ending in a couple of weeks, I have taken some time to reflect over the last year.
The Sabbatical Team started off our terms with darting around the country meeting other Students’ Union teams at different conferences. We spoke about all the different issues which we might come across over the year, but also what we would like to achieve as Unions. It was very beneficial meeting other Sabbatical Officers who were either new to the role like we were, or others who were about to start on their second year.
From here, it was Freshers’ Fortnight, where I settled into life in the Uxbridge office meeting all our new healthcare students. It was great to tell them about everything that they could get involved in thanks to The Big Deal and give them the opportunity to feed in with what they wanted to see. I was also given the chance to meet returning students and inform them that they now had a Sabbatical Officer dedicated to Uxbridge and Aylesbury.
Brandon and I then launched our Monthly Monday Meals campaign with funding from the local council, which allowed students to pick up a free ingredients bag from any of the campuses to cook a budget friendly, vegetarian meal. This happened each month and had a great response throughout, we also did a special MMM bag for the Cultural Fest where we took three meals from three cultures and did our best to do them justice.
Both the Uxbridge and Aylesbury campuses had some excellent wins this year with more microwaves in Uxbridge allowing more students to heat their own food in their short lunch breaks and the introduction of tables in Park Room so that students no longer struggled to take notes in three-hour lessons. In Aylesbury, we took up a table tennis table to give the students a space where they can take a break from their studies, have a sense of community, and try out some free sports for fun.
I have been the student voice on most of the Curriculum 23 development meetings since the start of my term. This has consisted of approval panels for the course specifications and modules, creating the names for the new opportunity modules and making sure that students are always at the forefront of curriculum development. Along with this, I was also the lead on the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework) which we submitted as a Union. This is a document which looks at teaching, learning and student outcomes and the TEF assesses the quality and standards of these.
During my time in office, I have been able to sit on several different interview panels, including our very own School Officers, and it has been great to see so many members interested in this student leadership role. Along with this I also sat on the panels for several senior University roles including School Directors of Education and Deputy Vice Chancellor. I look forward to hearing about how they work with the Students’ Union in the future.
At the end of February, we hosted the Southern Union’s Conference, where we welcomed around 100 people from 25 different Students’ Unions from Southern England onto our campus. We got to reunite with several Sabbatical Officers who we met at the start of our term and see how they're getting on with campaigns and lobbying their Universities for changes to help their student body. Lots of ideas were bounced around over those two days and I’m excited to hear about where these ideas go and the improvements they bring to students across the country.
There was then Jay Blades Investiture as BNU’s first Chancellor, where the Sabbatical Team were invited to sit amongst university colleagues and some notable names such as Dame Judi Dench, Sir David Jason and Dame Mary Berry. It was a joyous and historic day for the university which was a pleasure to be a small part of.
I was then part of the longest Teams call of my term which was just over 7 hours! This was for a partner periodic review where I met a number of academics, students and the support staff from the European School of Osteopathy. During this meeting we talked about the student experience, how the courses run and all the different aspects of the partner institution. Safe to say that I was looking forward to not staring at a laptop screen for much longer after that.
During the year we have the pleasure to meet prospective students at open days across all the campuses. These days have a mix of students visiting BNU for the first time, but also some who are visiting us again as they deliberate on whether to put BNU as a choice on their UCAS application. It’s always great to talk to prospective students and their families about what we offer and watching them be amazed by The Big Deal is easily my favourite part of the open days.
We finished off the second term with Varsity where we were away at the University of Roehampton. Unfortunately, we lost the Roebuck trophy this year as Roehampton beat us 8-6 overall but that didn't change the electric atmosphere that our students created. Especially on the side-lines of the last event, which was the rugby. Though our team were the underdogs, they put on a great performance and everyone was enraptured by the fixture which saw our boys winning 8-5. The response from our spectators was incredible and made us all feel like we had won the day as our fans jumped the barrier and congratulated the team. We are so proud of everyone that played in Varsity and I can’t wait to visit the home game next year.
In the final term where we had some big events to put on and help celebrate a fantastic year. There was our three day FestiBall where we partied to several different headliners from a variety of genres, including Caity Baser and Bastille. It was great to see everyone, including several staff members, let their hair down and relax before the climax of the final term of exams, assignment hand ins and dissertation deadlines.
We then celebrated International Nurses Day, where I turned the Uxbridge office into a little hamper making factory, creating survival packs filled with lavender scented goodies and handed them out to our fantastic nursing students. It was great to chat to the nurses on our campuses and celebrate all their hard work over the year.
There was then Union Awards, hosted by the Sabbatical Officers, we celebrated the staff and students who have contributed so much to the student experience over the last academic year. It was fantastic event and a huge congratulations to all those who were nominated and won the awards.
After such a successful year, it was time to turn my mind to handing over my role to your next Vice President Education and Welfare (Uxbridge and Aylesbury), Amy Pile. Making sure she had all the tools from my time in office, I compiled documents with all the knowledge that I have taken on in this last year. The role has been so much more than I expected this year and I wish Amy all the best for the next year.
Now that it is summer, take the time to have a break, switch off from the university life and enjoy. Though I won’t be here next year, I know the Union is really excited to welcoming you back in September for another fun filled year.
- Emily Crawshaw, Vice President Education and Welfare (Uxbridge and Aylesbury) 2022-23.