Our approach to training and officer induction this summer

Working with SUs to develop understanding of key policy and knowledge areas is a core function of our work at Wonkhe SUs.

This year we can’t run our “Start” event in July, but we’re committed to delivering useful, helpful and essential knowledge briefing and policy content remotely, so that you can focus your resources on local issues. This will cover our usual wheels – legal and regulatory issues relating to SUs, education and welfare policy topics, the wider higher education and so on.

A blog a day

From Monday June 1st we’ll again be selecting a Wonkhe blog or briefing for officers to read every day – so that by the end of the summer they’re up to speed on all the key contemporary issues facing students, higher education and SUs. We’ll highlight these via WhatsApp – so we’d encourage early sign up to the system for new officers.

Simulation games

In late August for full subscribers will run a large real-time, remote working simulation exercise with multiple officer teams (and role plays from willing SU staff). Please get in touch if you’d like to take part as a roleplayer. Dates for this will be announced soon.

In house training

When the rules allow we’ll start to reschedule in house training for full subscribers – although we will need to work with you on unions nearby to each other doubling or tripling up so we can fit everyone in. Let us know if that sounds like a problem.

Public Speaking

In late August/early September we’ll be running our public speaking masterclasses (there will be an additional charge per participant) – details soon.

Webinar induction programme

The centrepiece of our approach will be our daily webinar programme from Mid-June through to Mid-August, designed to cover all the big policy issues in the sector. Webinars will both reflect the continuing “status quo” and the situation in light of the fall out from Covid-19. The programme will be completely free to take part in for all officers and staff within Wonkhe SUs full subscriber unions.

Each webinar will run live for around 50 minutes at 10am on the date specified. We would encourage officers (and interested staff that support them) to take part live, although a recording will be made available later in the day – along with slides and a collection of relevant resources and/or Wonkhe briefings or blogs.

Webinars are designed so that a general audience can get the key concepts, and a specialist audience knows where to go for additional information or contacts. Most will feature a presentation and discussion with a guest from SUs or sector bodies – if you’re interested in helping out with any of these topics, please do get in touch.

Draft programme (dates to be confirmed)

15/06/20 How does student representation work?

In this webinar we’ll look at some of the major theories and models surrounding student representation, advocacy and influence and consider how they might be used by officers and SUs to improve things for students. We’ll also provide an overview of Wonkhe and Wonkhe SUs – who we are, what we do, what we think and how we might help with representing students effectively.

Register here

16/06/20 How higher education works

Higher education in the UK has a “design”, and it’s crucial that officers (and the staff that support them) understand the system in order to influence it. This session explains all on how HE is run, regulated, monitored, influenced and regarded – and will also cover higher education Quality Assurance, and complaints.

Register here

17/06/20 Students’ Unions and the Law

This session will give new officers (and staff) a grounding in the main legal frameworks that surround students’ unions and will examine grey areas and the regulation that enforces (or, more often, doesn’t enforce) those frameworks.

Register here

18/06/20 The History of SUs

If you want to know where we’re going, you’ll need to know where we’ve been. This session digs into the origins of students’ unions and summarises their role and history through the major higher education debates of the past century. It looks at student rights, in loco parentis, massification, marketisation, freedom of speech and the co-production of educational outcomes.

Register here

19/06/20 Your university’s finances

University finances are not looking good right now – and so as universities seek to make dramatic savings to stay afloat, understanding them will be central to representing students effectively. We’ll explore the main data sources, explain key terms and discuss the “known unknowns” that you might be able to access locally.

Register here

19/06/20 Covid-19: The story so far (MIDDAY)

In this session we’ll tell the story so far of Covid-19, the higher education sector and SUs. What happened, who decided what, where the problems have been. It’s an ideal way to learn about how the higher education sector does (and doesn’t) work, through a very real life case study.

Register here

22/06/20 Access and participation

Around the UK access to university remains a major political issue, even in the midst of a pandemic – and there are expectations of student and SU involvement. This webinar will summarise and update on A&P, describe where to access A&P data for your university, give you an overview of the involvement that SUs are having in the agenda, and discuss SU projects that are being funded by universities to help deliver the plans.

Register here

23/06/20 Harassment and sexual misconduct

Plenty of officers have improving processes in relation to harassment and sexual misconduct for the year ahead. This webinar will introduce the main issues being discussed and debated by universities, explain the consultation from OfS on harassment and sexual misconduct, explore some of the implications for universities and SUs and give participants a chance to consider their SU response.

Register here

24/06/20 Partnership or not? Ten ways to improve institution-level student representation

Lots of SUs are looking to improve their student representation/partnership work at institutional level and make sure they get the relationship “right”. Can you bite the hand that feeds? Should you? This webinar looks at some of the theory in this space, gathers up examples of work across the sector, and identifies ten approaches/components that SUs have been implementing.

Register here

25/06/20 Extenuating circumstances

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator has been running a consultation on its approach to “requests for special consideration”, better known as “extenuating circumstances” or “mitigating circumstances”. This webinar looks at the issues it covers, and acts as a way in to thinking about academic regulations and their impact on students’ lives more generally for officers, policy staff and others.

Register here

26/06/20 SU futures

Lots of SUs had strategic plans running to 2020 and lots of SUs were busy creating their new strategic plans before the pandemic hit. This webinar will summarise the SUFutures work that ran in early 2020 and looked at some of the big strategic issues facing SUs in the next decade.

Register here

29/06/20 Developments in assessment and feedback

Plenty of SUs have been working with their university to explore ways in which they might improve their NSS performance on Assessment and Feedback. This webinar will explore work across the sector and identify approaches SUs might argue for in their university.

Register here

30/06/20 Protecting students

Student Protection Plans are a regulatory requirement for all higher education providers that are on the Office for Students register in England. And consumer protection law applies to students that pay fees throughout the UK. This session provides an overview of the frameworks and will enable participants to understand and influence implementation at an institutional level.

Register here

01/07/20 What difference do SUs make?

Last year Wonkhe published research on SUs and their value, and in this webinar we’ll take you through the key findings and ways you can use them to try to protect (or at least limit cuts to) your SU’s block grant funding.

Register here

02/07/20 Hidden costs and student costs campaigns

We’ll review the legal position on hidden costs and fee increases and take you through a decade of SU student costs campaigns as a case study in understanding SU campaigns, policy and influencing work in the student interest.

Register here

03/07/20 What about the PGTs?

Numbers of postgraduate taught students are climbing, but the sector tends to be firmly undergraduate focused and universities aren’t always great at supporting their postgraduate populations. This webinar takes you through some key issues for postgraduate taught students.

Register here

06/07/20 What about the PGRs?

Numbers of postgraduate research students are also climbing, but the sector tends to be firmly undergraduate focused and universities aren’t always great at supporting their postgraduate populations. This webinar takes you through some key issues for postgraduate research students.

Register here

07/07/20 What keeps senior uni people awake at night?

Getting things done means knowing what matters to the decision makers. Drawing on interviews with heads of institutions, we’ll explore pressures on university leaders and updates on how they are managing those pressures in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Register here

08/07/20 Using evidence to make change

How can SU officers – and the staff that support them – make a decent case for change? This webinar explains sources of evidence, tactics, issues faced in presenting it and identifies ways over all the barriers.

Register here

09/07/20 Sport and higher education policy

What has Sport got to do with higher education policy? What agendas ought sports and activities sabbs (and their staff) be thinking about in the year ahead? In this webinar we round up all the major contemporary issues and considered how SUs might influence and respond.

Register here

10/07/20 Understanding the TEF, NSS and LEO

It’s three webinars for the price of one! Here we’ll take participants on a fun journey through the history of attempts to measure and count higher education and consider where the pandemic leaves these previously important agendas for regulators and students.

Register here

13/07/20 Data day concerns

We know that SUs are more effective when they use evidence and data. Much of that can be gathered in house, but what about when you need national comparisons or benchmarks? Here we will whizz you through all the key sources of national data on universities and students, on everything from access and participation to parking spaces. We’ll also show you how you can present data and stats to tell the story you’re keen to underline.

Register here

14/07/20 Tackling the BAME awarding gap

Plenty of SU officers have manifesto commitments on tackling the awarding gap that is present for BAME students. This webinar will introduce the key issues, policy considerations, and where to find the data that matters on access and participation. There will also be an opportunity to look at curriculum decolonisation and hear about some of the practice from around the sector.

Register here

15/07/20 A trip around the Baltics

In January 2020 Wonkhe SUs ran a study tour for SU staff and officers around the Baltics and Finland. In this webinar well whizz participants around the countries’ higher education and SU systems and ask what might be replicated or adapted for a UK audience.

Register here

16/07/20 Student housing

Accommodation emerged as a signature issue in the early stages of the pandemic, as decision makers realised the realities of a market that few believe works in the interests of students. This webinar will summarise the policy agenda and frameworks and give participants a change to think through what could and should happen next.

Register here

17/07/20 Free speech?

The biggest obsession of the press in relation to students and universities over the past few years has been about “freedom of speech” and student “snowflakes”. This webinar explains the origins of the issues, the legal frameworks that surround it and where the agenda might go next at a national and local level within universities.

Register here

21/07/20 New sorts of democracy

With confidence in and participation in representative democracy at an all time low, lots of SUs have been reviewing their democratic structures – but whilst lots have experimented with forms of direct democracy, few have dabbled in deliberative democracy. In this webinar we will explain different models for and types of democracy in use in both SUs and other organisations, discuss deliberative democracy and consider the ways in which it might apply to SUs.

Register here

22/07/20 Communicating with students

Organisations and leaders typically have one of two responses to a crisis: they either go silent or they over communicate. You’ll have observed examples for yourself during the Covid-19 crisis. The best responses are rooted in listening, engaging and providing support to members. This webinar will explore examples of who’s doing it well, and identify why – so you can too.

Register here

23/07/20 Student mental health

Mental health and wellbeing has been the dominant HE policy agenda for a few years now. This webinar will summarise where the agenda has got to, the things universities have become good at tackling (and those they haven’t) as well as delving deeper into the Student Minds mental health charter.

Register here

24/07/20 International student, immigration, Brexit and evidence

In this webinar we’ll look at the state of the international student experience and identify the sources of evidence available to you to make a difference – as well as delivering an overview of where we are on immigration and Brexit policy. We’ll also look at practice in relation to internationalising SUs and consider the big policy agendas for international students in the year ahead.

Register here

Break for NUS Lead and Change

10/08/20 Only the lonely

In this webinar we’ll explore Wonkhe’s specially commissioned loneliness research and consider implications for SUs that are concerned about student mental health and wellbeing, especially in light of the global pandemic.

Register here

11/08/20 Understanding SU Governance

This webinar looks at the history of debates around how SUs are governed, some of the issues that SUs have had over the years in this area and considers how SUs can assess and improve their Governance practice.

Register here

12/08/20 Initiations and student conduct

In recent years “initiations” has gone from a taboo subject a major policy area, and last year Universities UK published guidance on it. In this webinar we’ll look at the issue in detail and consider wider issues in relation to the management of student conduct both within universities, SUs and out in wider communities and contexts.

Register here

13/08/20 Disabled students

What are the big issues facing disabled students and how can SUs tackle them both in their own provision and in their representation to universities? This webinar provides a useful summary and overview.

Register here

14/08/20 Protecting students

Student Protection Plans are a regulatory requirement for all higher education providers that are on the Office for Students register in England. And consumer protection law applies to students that pay fees throughout the UK. This session provides an overview of the frameworks and will enable participants to understand and influence implementation at an institutional level.

Register here

17/08/20 The Future’s so Bright, I gotta wear shades

Most horizon scanning sessions about the future just tinker round the edges, asking us to imagine what is basically a shiny silver Jetpac version of the present. Of course the real future is unwritten, but how we imagine it might be can influence what we do and how we act now, just as our histories define who we are and how we act. This webinar will examine multiple future trends- from ubiquitous surveillance to the post human society, from megacities to the new distribution of work- and consider how they might impact upon education, students’ unions, and our lives. Hoverboards optional.

Register here

18/08/20 The lies we tell ourselves

Most industries have a powerful set of conventional wisdoms- and newcomers to SUs often are quick to pick these up as part of a rite of passage to insider status. Such received views are often a form of shared wisdom and a shorthand for communicating it effectively. However, questioning these can be a stimulating way to generate fresh thinking and sometimes, as illustrated by the MONEYBALL phenomenon in baseball, where large groups of people can perpetuate shared ignorance or myth. In this webinar we will hold up 10 powerful ideas that are common within SUs and try and squeeze new meaning from them.

Register here

19/08/20 Gangs and Tribes

A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and a set of ideas. For millions of years, humans have been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical. Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time. This session examines the theory and considers ways in which students’ unions can get better at creating tribes amongst students.

Register here

20/08/20 The ABC of XYZ

Universities are now being run by a bunch of Generation X ex hippies. Students’ Unions are being managed by a bunch of selfish, cynical Generation Y upstarts. And they’re serving a clutch of digitally native Generation Z students who are impatient, overstimulated and impossible to please. It may well be that all of this is marketing gobbledygook. But on the off chance that it might help, the session will explore the X, Y and Z concepts and examine what it might mean for influencing universities, motivating managers and serving students.

Register here

21/08/20 How student apathy works – and how to overcome it

This webinar explores the concept of student apathy and identifies ways in which SU officers and SUs in general might deploy strategies to overcome it when running campaigns or just generally trying to empower students.

Register here

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