VC and SU blog: Student wellbeing

Posted by rmt22 at Sep 24, 2019 11:31 AM |
Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Edmund Burke and Students' Union Oge Obioha have published this blog about the Student Support improvements we have made.

Many of you will have seen my email in July about sexual assault on university campuses and may have read more in the media about the challenge we, and the sector, face in responding to this issue. I have said before that this subject is something I will focus on. We must strive to provide a welcoming and safe environment for all our students and staff a place where people flourish and develop.

As we approach the new academic year, I wanted to share some of the good progress that has been made during the Summer by colleagues across the University community. I committed to enhancing our work in this area and to build on the good work already achieved by the Standing Together initiative and I am really pleased to advise that we are making good progress. In my earlier blog, I set out three areas of focus: investing in student support; working with the student community to respond to the challenges; and reviewing our policies and procedures.

Investing in student support Over the Summer we have recruited to 14 posts in Student Support Services of which seven are additional posts. This investment means we start the academic year without a waiting list and we will be able to see more students throughout the year (12% more) as well as being able to provide more accessible support through our outreach and departmental links.

Working with the student community We have a Students’ Union representative on the Student Wellbeing Task and Finish Group, the Health and Safety Committee, the Learning and Teaching Committee and the Standing Together Steering Group. This ensures that the student voice is represented and listened to. In addition, we were really pleased that a member of the SU Executive team joined each recruitment panel for our new wellbeing staff.

Reviewing our policies and procedures – We’ve undertaken a major review of our regulations, policies and governance in this area – all of which will be in place over the next few months. The next step is to review and enhance our procedures and ensure that these are user-friendly and easily accessible to students and staff.

In addition to these three key areas of work we have:

  • developed our Wellbeing Strategy (which is now being shared across the University community for feedback)
  • created a new communications plan to co-ordinate student campaigns and communicate how staff and students can access information and support
  • created a comprehensive training plan for staff and students which currently comprises 11 different types of training and awareness programmes, and
  • we are engaging with DMU on a number of projects to ensure we work together to make Leicester a safe and secure city in which to study.

In this blog, I have also invited Oge Obioha the President of the Students’ Union to put forward her priorities for wellbeing at the University of Leicester. Oge said:

A huge welcome to all of our students this week! The Executive team and I hope you have had an amazing summer. Campus is buzzing again, the energy is great and we’re ready for the start of another successful academic year.

 

With all the events happening, I wanted to use this opportunity to highlight the Students’ Union’s zero tolerance stance on sexual violence.

We stand in full solidarity with the brave survivors who are leading the #MeTooOnCampus movement. They have been involved in working closely with the Vice-Chancellor and Student Support Services in the past months to build a safer, more supportive community for students.

#MeTooOnCampus is the very reason for all the positive changes and increased resource going into student support. Moving forward, the SU and University will continue working in partnership on a series of hard-hitting campaigns over the course of the year, to affirm our commitment to stamping out sexual harassment on our campus and to ensure a safe learning environment for all. So watch this space!

We recognise the good work that has gone on, but also recognise there is further to go, so over the course of this year, the Students’ Union will:

  • Work with the University over the development of mandatory consent workshops for all students
  • Develop our training materials for club and society committees to ensure any issues are quickly signposted to support services
  • Undertake a mitigating circumstances review to ensure students with mental health needs can more easily access mitigating circumstances support
  • Work with the University to ensure a black counsellor is hired to the support team, for a better structured and more inclusive counselling team
  • Make campus fun, engaging and exciting for all students, so the University of Leicester is a safe learning environment for all.

 

The whole Executive Officer team are really excited about the year ahead and hope you get involved in what we do and make your voice heard! To know more about how to get involved, email me at su-president@le.ac.uk.

Wellbeing is much more than a plan, a policy or how much we’ve spent on this issue. It’s about a positive culture that underpins how the University operates, how we support each other, working together and being respectful. Let’s start this year as we mean to go on.

Best wishes

Professor Edmund Burke

Vice Chancellor (Acting)

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