Sam Dedman delivered the attached powerpoint presentation that provides all the information that the Union has been given so far by the University on the restructure. Sam confirmed that the purpose of this discussion is to work out what stance the Union should be taking in order to best support our students who will be effected.
Giles proposed that a wide discussion in the Union Senate meeting would not be very productive and only has a very small proportion of students present in the room. Giles suggested that the restructure be sent to an All Student Vote so that the Union can work out what the overall student population would like us to do.
Evie confirmed that the petition that was hosted on the Union website and created by one of our students has now reached the 250 minimum number of signatures. This means that it will now be moved on to the next stage which the creators of the petition have agreed will be an All Student Vote.
Cecile asked Evie if this would be set up before Christmas, Evie confirmed that it would.
Question from the room; what will an All Student Vote do?
Flora took this question and confirmed that the Union is not able to change the University's mind about the restructure. However, the vote will put numbers against what the students are feeling around campus about the proposal and that these numbers can be presented to the University. The Union would then hope that the University would listen.
Steve questioned whether the Vice-Chancellors pay would be included in the All Student Vote or whether it would be kept separate.
Evie explained that the wording of the All Student Vote would be discussed with the creator of the petition and confirmed with them before being put to students.
Giles provided background to the employment of the Vice-Chancellor at Southampton University. The person who previously held the role pushed too many students through enrolment leading to a very bad student experience and classes that were over-subscribed. This has led to a very rating for the University and a drop in it's ranking that the new Vice-Chancellor is trying to counteract.
Question from the room; is there a way that we could halt the proceedings as modules need to be decided after Christmas?
Giles also confirmed that to the best of the Union's knowledge the staff who are facing severance are not meeting their targets already.
Sam confirmed that the restructure had already been decided by the University Senate. Flora corroborated by saying that it is very unlikely that the process will be slowed down as a result of student feedback but that the Union is under the impression that module choices will not be effected.
Question from the room; what plan does the Union have after the All Student Vote has taken place? What will we be able to do?
Flora confirmed that plans had not been settle yet but that we would definitely be presenting a report to the University with the results of the vote and feedback from students.
Sam added to this that the Union would also take the report to UCU (University and College Union) to present the students feeling on cuts.
Arun reflected the question to the room and asked what the students present would like the Union to do on their behalf.
Suggestion from the room; the Union needs to get more information from the University. The announcement was on the 13 November, which was about a month ago. The student expressed that it must be frustrating to not have been given warning or clear information before now.
Sam agreed and confirmed that the Union was pushing to get more information released as soon as possible. He also revealed that the Vice-Chancellors address that had been available on publically had now been removed and was only available to staff. The Union are working hard to ensure this is re-released to the public so that students have access to it.
Flora also stated that the Union would be meeting with the Vice-Chancellor to get further clarity on their proposed rep structure. The University has suggested having a UG and PG rep on their committees; however, the Union believes that there should be a UG, PGT and PGR on those committees who are looked after by the Union for better representation.
Question from the room; what does cuts mean? It can't only be underachieving staff, if the faculties are being merged wouldn't this result in fewer staff members?
Giles confirmed that the student offices in faculties wouldn't just be closed although the Union hasn't seen any definite plans as yet. The Union is under the impression that the offices will be kept open until at least August but we are also aware that departments have been asked to make cuts.
Suggestion from the room; the Union could take a strong stance alongside the campaign by Lord Adonis' and his investigation into high paid University leaders. This could make a big impact, the Union needs to step up and defend students on this topic.
Flora took this suggestion and confirmed that the Union has not stood up to the University on a topic of this scale for a long time and so we have to be careful to do it right. Flora said that she would be making contact with Bath in order to try and get tips on how they stood up to their Vice-Chancellor on pay.
Giles also explained that officers elected through the Union are mandated to represent their fellow students and so they will be questioning the process and protecting student's interests.
Cecile asked if would be worth the Union contacting the Union at Surrey where the Vice-Chancellor used to work to ask how the restructure went there?
Flora said that this would be good and agreed to take this as an action to contact the Chief Executive there.
Statement from the room on Surrey; I had a friend at Surrey who was studying there during the restructure, although the University went up in the tables afterwards they dropped again as soon as the Vice-Chancellor left. They also said that they student experience was really negatively effected after the restructure and I am worried this will happen here if the restructure is just a quick fix.
Statement from the room on the petition; although we know that he Vice-Chancellors pay will not solve the whole problem and will not fill the hole in the budget, we do feel that it is very damaging for the moral of staff if the cuts don't at least partially come from the Vice-Chancellors pay. We feel it shows leadership to take some of the hit first before staff lose their jobs.
Evie agreed that the two topics are linked but that the questions should be separated so that the Union can take a stance on both topics.
Sam suggested that there should actually be three questions and one of these should be on transparency as very little information or consultation has taken place.
This was put to action by Cecile and Evie confirmed that she would meet with the creator of the petition.