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Blog: Academic Restructure Update

Christmas is done, the tree has been dismantled and the lights turned off. Mariah Carey is removed from the charts and Michael Buble returns to the ice for another 11 months.

The Christmas break was hopefully an excellent time to be able to have some time to yourself, catch up with family and unwind from what was likely a frantic first term. A lot went on – we saw some huge impacts by our academic reps, the student voice element in Performance Development Reviews has increased and we have seen the reopening of Founder's Reading Room!

Remind me what the academic restructure is all about

Last term also saw progression on the College’s proposal to restructure the academic units. Essentially, in short, this involves removing the three faculties, where departments currently sit, and replacing them with six Schools (plus an additional Doctoral School) meaning a smaller number of Departments under each unit and hopefully developing a more cohesive network and community on campus.

Over the course of last term, we as your Students’ Union have been representing your academic interests to ensure that the betterment of the student experience at Royal Holloway is at the heart of all changes moving forward.

Towards the end of last term, lots more has been going on so I wanted to provide a quick update…

Elected rep focus groups

Firstly, focus groups were formed comprising of your elected academic representatives to compile feedback and inform changes moving forwards. These groups discussed different ways that students interact with the administrative services at the College including, but not limited to, the peak times when queries arise, what students want from admin services as well as what they like, and don’t like, about the current service. This has been incredibly informative in highlighting the variety of different practices currently happening at the College as well as the priorities of students when interacting with these services.

PhD focus groups

Secondly, a specific focus group was also convened for PhD students. In addition to the formation of six Schools, there is also going to be a Doctoral School. This will be done to create a community for PhD students as well as bringing the admin services that, at the moment, are spread out across campus, into one recognisable place. The majority of students raised the concerns that they feel ‘passed around’ by various different points of contact in College and I hope that addressing this pressing concern is at the heart of the establishment of a fully servicing Doctoral School.

College reference groups

Alongside these focus groups, I have also been involved in College reference groups. These groups have involved input from representatives from each department (their Head of Department and Department Manager) who have had a fantastic opportunity to inform the process on varying responsibilities and subject specific needs of departments in admin work. These groups have ensured that subject specific services, such as field trips or purchasing of equipment, continue within the new structure and efficiency on these services is maintained and improved.

Final thoughts

With College Council passing the decision for the academic restructure in the form of Schools replacing Faculties, it is essential that we as a student body remain invested in this process in order to mitigate against risks, using this as an opportunity to correct current woes.

This term is a crucial period and I intend on maintaining, as your representative, involvement in the establishment of Schools so matters such as academic representation, consistency and efficiency in service, community and belonging are a priority for the College and the newly established Schools.

Jack O'Neill // Vice President Education