More and more SUs are running Give it a Go schemes and programmes.
These are usually run one of two ways – staff led programs, or student led programs. I have been lucky enough to experience running both.
At ARU Students’ Union the programme was very much administered by staff and we would put activities on for students to attend. These usually consisted of daytime trips that students could attend to provide one off experiences elsewhere, especially aimed at giving opportunities for international students to get experiences of different famous cities.
At Students’ Union UCL we have a different program which is led by clubs and societies. In the same way, societies lead on these sessions and with staff support open them up to non-members to come to enable them to get involved without purchasing membership in the first instance.
Which approach you go for will ultimately come down to the size of your SU and the breadth of your activities program, but ultimately there is not a wrong answer. They are both as effective as each other.
The first option is great for a smaller size activities program where your societies wouldn’t necessarily be able to fulfil that level of activity – but still provides excellent activities and opportunities. What I have found is that the first sort of approach is easily marketed to international students as some are only here for a limited time, and gives them opportunities to experience parts of the UK that they wouldn’t have necessarily had the opportunity to experience before.
What is important here – and what I would recommend – is that if you are looking to run this sort of program that you ensure that the price of your tickets is cheaper than it would be for students to go on their own. That will help the trips to sell out.
The latter choice is a good option if your groups could put on that level of activity. There are unions that have a smaller number of clubs and societies that run this type of program too as societies are super engaged with them and want to deliver more for their members. This type of program does deliver a natural challenge – you may get some societies that may want to deliver more GIAGs than society run events for their membership.
It is of course important to remember here that societies events mustn’t be hindered at the cost of students getting a bad experience from said club or society, so is important that these events are naturally run less frequently. An example of how this can be combatted is – say you are looking at having a GIAG run each week throughout the term, depending on the size of your program it would be worth looking at whether a different society could run an event each week, topped up by a union led trip in the middle.
Some schemes combine the approach. At UEA the SU and university both directly run support clubs and socs to put on activities every day during term time in their “Do Something Different” scheme.
The key to remember here, is that there are, like anything, many recipes to success, it’s all about what works for your SU – the best piece of advice that I can give on this is make sure you try out lots of different options in the first instance. A combination of the two could also work!
The benefits to SUs running these schemes are that it opens opportunities for students to get involved without commitment to more events that clubs and societies might be running. Wonkhe’s research shows that many students are looking for activities where commitment – either emotional, time or financial – is reduced. Depending on how often you choose to run these also allows more than just the typical focal points of the year to get students to see what different clubs and societies have to offer.
Clubs and Societies throughout running events within this program also have the opportunity to challenge themselves to run events targeted at different demographics of students with support from staff as well as giving them more of a chance to get members to join their relevant clubs and societies.
What’s next for the scheme?
We are very keen to make sure that we are tapping into as many different demographics of students as possible and make sure that where possible there is something for everyone. Further down the line, I would really to dig deep into data and work with other students unions who run GIAG schemes to find out participation levels by student demographic and find out collectively what we can do to better support the running of these programs.
I am keen to work with as many SUs as possible to create successful GIAG programs, so if this is something that would be of interest, get in touch.