What happened at the first Guild Advisory Board meeting?

TL;DR: Guild Advisory Board heard what Officers are working on, gave their suggestions on how we make sure we’re updating all students with the work we are doing on the 6 key themes, and how Welcome/Freshers’ could be enhanced for 2024.

Your Students’ Guild is proudly led by students, for students. The Guild Advisory Board is made up of students, who are empowered to influence the decisions we make and hold the Guild to account. Here is summary of our first meeting of the year (31 October). 

Holding your officers to account 

Rhys (your Societies and Employability Officer) and Alex (your Education Officer) began by giving an update on what they’ve been working on recently – including supporting student businesses and academic reps and holding the University to account on education policy.  

Afterwards, the students in the Advisory Board talked in groups with Rhys, Alex, and Pip (your Student Living Officer). 

Asa result of this discussion, Rhys noted that "Have Your Say" will be better promoted and to committed to more frequent society meet ups. Meanwhile, Alex will continue to review the issues experienced byacademic reps. Pip will continue to represent the interests of students (especially international students) who are struggling with the cost of living.  


Working on Students’ Priorities 

Over the last couple of years, the Student’s Guild has been improving how it genuinely led by students, for students. One of the ways we’ve done this is by introducing a data-driven approach to listening to students to understand what is important to them.  

The Guild’s Insights Team shared with the Advisory Board how this was done this year. Over the last few weeks, we received over 2000 pieces of student feedback through surveys, workshops, and Let’s Talks. These six themes emerged from this research: 

·       Events and activities

·       Job prospects

·       Living costs

·       Health and wellbeing  

·       Campaigns,initiatives, and activism 

·       Equality, diversity,and inclusion  

These will shape what Guild staff and Officers will focus on throughout the year– working from the actions suggested by students. The Advisory Board wanted to be sure that students were involved throughout the process of analysing and prioritising the data. Students and our elected Officers have been involved at every stage of shaping the student priorities.  

The Advisory Board suggested the Guild can be held to account on delivering for student priorities by transparently publishing intended actions, delivered actions, and impact data. The Advisory Board wants to be kept updated throughout the year. The Advisory Board emphasised how important it was for the Guild to be transparent about the process of generating the priorities.  

The final version of the Student Priorities will be announced on Friday! 


Reflecting on Welcome  

This autumn, the Guild worked with the University to change the approach to the start of the academic year. One of the changes was renaming it from ‘Freshers’ Week’ to ‘Welcome’ so it is clearer and more inclusive of non-first year undergrads. Feedback from previous years said the Freshers’ Fair was too big, overwhelming, and not good for students or societies. This year, we moved to having themed days spread across the week. The Guild also ran events specifically targeted at groups previously neglected by Freshers’. In addition, weeks 1-6 were also used for extra society engagement. 

The Advisory Board felt the information about how Welcome Week worked (e.g. events, where and when societies would be, themed days, locations) was difficult to find and suggested a brochure. The themed days were detrimental for groups at the end of the week and was Streatham-centric. Some of the days were really busy so were not accessible (as no longer had a quiet hour).The Give it a Go events had a good selection and were accessible. Postgrad students felt left out. Having to pay membership fees and for event tickets can be a barrier (but understand societies are autonomous). Some societies needed more support from the Activities around handover from previous committee. There were different opinions on the new terminology of ‘Welcome’ –international students supportive of change as more inclusive, while others feel‘ Freshers’’ is a well-known thing students expect.  

The Advisory Board also helped set the vision for 2024:including welcoming international students (where buildings are, how societies work, resolve lack of bank account, timing of events after arrival), inclusion of students from all campuses and communities (publicise events where people can meet each other, clarity on themed days), equal access to societies (clear language, quiet hours, longer fair, signposting).  

The next Guild Advisory Board will take place on Monday 27 November.

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