Sabb Update - 24/11/23

After another busy week, we caught up with your Sabbatical Officer team to find out what they've been working on to make student life better at Royal Holloway.

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After another busy week, we caught up with your Sabbatical Officer team to find out what they've been working on to make student life better at Royal Holloway.

Hannah - President

I’ve been working closely with the University to gain student feedback regarding the Extenuating Circumstances (EC) Policy. This included organising a workshop for our Student Executive members and academic reps to attend. We’re now seeking additional input from students, which will help us to define and decide the specifics of the policy and how it will work. Have your say by completing the survey.

Additionally, the last two weeks have been packed with big meetings such as EDI Committee, Estates Planning Committee, Student Engagement and Voice Mapping, SU Finance, Staffing and Risk Committee (which I chair), University Education Committee, and College Council Strategy Day.

The College Council is the governing body of Royal Holloway and is responsible for the overall strategy and policy-making. Sharanya and I are both members of the College Council and ensure that student voice is represented and heard at a high level. We had some interesting conversations about the future of the University, the 2030s strategy, and an update on an exciting project regarding the University’s values.

Sharanya - VP Education

This week, Hannah and I attended the University’s Strategy Day and Council, we had important conversations about the future of Royal Holloway and how we improve students’ experiences going forward. These past few months have really helped me understand governance in Higher Education, reinforcing my desire to pursue this pathway.

Marking and Assessment Boycott

UCU (University and College Union) held a re-ballot a couple of weeks ago for their members to extend their mandate to strike over the pay and working conditions dispute. UCU announced that they did not meet the threshold required for the mandate to pass for further industrial action.

Only 43% of UCU members voted, 68% of those who did vote backed taking strike action and 75% backed taking other forms of industrial action. However, trade union laws require a turnout of more than 50% to make the ballot valid.

For now, there will be no industrial action unless there are further national or local ballots.

Library Opening Hours

The Library Services team has confirmed that the library will be open 24/7 in Term Two. In the meantime, Founder's Library is open 24/7 to ensure that students who may wish to study overnight, have a space to do so. There are also discussions about some PC labs being opened for those who may need access to a computer and some other spaces that will facilitate independent and group study – please make sure to check for further communications when these spaces are confirmed.

Access and Participation Plan

As part of my manifesto aim to improve accessibility in higher education for underrepresented groups, I have joined the University’s Access and Participation working group. Royal Holloway is in the process of writing a new Access and Participation Plan (APP), which will run from 2025-2028. Our APP will set out how the University plans to improve equality of opportunity for all student groups, particularly those that are currently underrepresented in higher education. This is submitted to OfS (Office for Students). I am participating in this working group to ensure that student voice is at the heart of it. Laura Black (Student Voice Manager) and I have been coordinating with Gill Knight (Director of Education) and Katie Green (Strategic Policy Manager) to form some focus groups to consult with students on the new APP to ensure we have identified the correct risks and are mitigating them effectively.

Nisha - VP Wellbeing & Diversity

Recently, I attended an Extenuating Circumstances workshop where student leaders were invited to provide feedback and help determine details of the University’s new Extenuating Circumstances policy and process.

I am also collaborating with Royal Holloway Sport (ALS) about how we can make the sports facilities more accessible. We have launched a feedback survey during Disability History Month which is aimed at disabled students. We want to find out what disabled students want to see from Sport, and the survey also gives students the opportunity to sign up to be involved in future focus groups. Take the survey!

I took part in the recruitment process of the new Anglican Chaplain for the new year as, unfortunately, our current Anglican Chaplain Orion will be moving on to a new role in Wales. I was part of the informal staff and student group. Representatives from student faith groups, relevant staff and relevant people from the local community were invited to join this group where we had the chance to ask the candidates relevant questions such as how they would engage with students and collaborate with different teams within the University to help improve student experiences. The candidates also had the opportunity to ask us questions about our student faith communities on campus. 

I have also been holding campaign 121 sessions with all the inclusion Community Officers. In these sessions, we go through their manifestos and support them in implementing their aims through either admin support or helping them make the right connections within the University.

I attended and co-organised a Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil this week where we honoured all the transgender people who have lost their lives due to anti-transgender hatred and violence. The service included a reading of the names of the transgender people who have died this year due to hatred and violence, after this, there was a few minutes of silence and quiet reflection time before there was an opportunity for people to share their experiences. The event was hosted by Sam, our LGBTQ+ Community Officer and the LGBT Society.

Alastair - VP Societies & Sport

It's getting pretty dark and cold, but things are heating up for the Student Opportunities team! 

It's hit that time of the year when planning is ramped up for our events. Awards nights, Varsity, you name the event, you can find two hours of my week taken up by meetings for them.

We're also bringing student voice into the equation, and I've been organising my updates and papers for the Societies, Sport, and Opportunities Executive, a group of 10 elected students to help make key decisions with the Students' Union.

Other than that, it's business as usual - answering queries from committee members; heading down to the Sport on Wednesday afternoon to cheer on our Bears, and most importantly, working to make student groups the best they can be!