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Your experience at this university can vary greatly depending on which department you are in or who you supervisor is. From access to learning resources to the way staff communicate with students on a day to day basis, students across the College are treated very differently, not to mention the disparity of PG experience which is mostly dependent on who you are working on your project with.
This year I would like to do a proper review of what is offered in different departments, including access to past papers and model solutions, Panopto recordings, how early timetables are released, spaces for work and socialising... and a lot of other things. Working together with reps we will then lobby their departments to try and bring everyone up to the same level. A lot of these standards have already been agreed by the College some time in the past but no one ever made sure it was implemented on departmental level, or that the deparmtents had sufficient resources to be able to deliver it (see Goal 3).
The Graduate Student Union and last year's DPE produced a set of recommendations relating to the experience of Postgraduate Research students. I will be working with the Graduate School and the GSU this year to make sure this is implemented, and closely with the postgraduate reps to monitor the need for any more changes.
We have hundreds of reps working hard in their free time to represent students in their department or faculty; they are the key to a lot of change that happens to improve student experience. In the past they have not always been well supported; from insufficient training to little support from the Union throughout the year as they work on their projects.
This year I want to make sure I work with our Faculty Reps and Dep Reps as closely as possible, empowering them to achieve great things in their department. This includes giving them the correct resources (such as the NSS comments), properly training them to prepare them for all aspects of their role before they start, setting the rules to make sure they are listened to (ensuring they have a seat on relevant committees or reviewing the Staff-Student Committee guidlines) and providing them with opportunities to share good practice across departments.
Every year, the Union and College come up with big plans to improve the student experience, but those are rarely delivered. Check out our survey responses from previous years here - all of these are full of great ideas that have been approved by the College, but most of the recommendations have not been implemented on departmental level.
This year I want to review what has been promised in the past, both it in these Union responses and in various College strategies, and make sure it is delivered. A lot of these decisions lie with departments, and a strong representation network is therefore crucial in implementing past promises.
We will also do the NSS response differently this year, giving reps more control over departmental recommendations and making sure the plans we come up with are actionable.
The National Student Survey (NSS) is a survey of all final year undergraduate students, asking them about their time at university and how they enjoyed certain aspects of their degree. Every year the Union analyses the NSS results and comes up with a set of recommendations for the College (the so-called "NSS response").
I've been a rep for a long time. Over the years I've seen a lot of the previous DPEs produce this report earlier and earlier, breaking the previous records with their speedy NSS response. Some of them have done a lot of other amazing stuff over the years, making some real change to the student experience, but their biggest achievement was, and always will be, how quickly they managed to produce their NSS response that year.
I don't think I can ever call myself a successful DPE if I don't at least try to produce an NSS response in record time this year. How early does it need to be out you ask? I don't know. I don't think anyone knows. Does anyone even keep track of this?