Over the last few weeks, the Students’ Union has taken part in Consultation Meetings with Senior University Management to make sure your concerns are recognised and considered. From your feedback, we have requested the University answer some of the more common themes and questions that have been arising, which you can read as follows.
We are still in consultation with the University on the proposed changes so if you have any feedback, questions or concerns, please submit your feedback through this form by May 10th so that we can take your comments to the University ahead of the final consultation meeting. Whilst we might not be able to respond individually to every query, we will take every concern directly to the University on your behalf.
How can the University justify not making any proposed cuts to the Vice Chancellors’ Executive Board? Or perhaps a cut in the substantial salary of the Vice Chancellor?
The proposals have looked at how management layers can be slimmed down, and other suggestions in this area are welcome as part of the consultation feedback.
Pay and conditions for USW staff are set so that we’re broadly in line with other universities in the UK. The Vice-Chancellor’s salary is set by the Board of Governors with advice from its Remuneration Committee. The Board’s view is the salary should reflect the size and scope of the University and the wider USW Group (which also includes the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and The College Merthyr Tydfil). The Vice-Chancellor’s salary is at a broadly equivalent level, albeit at the lower end of the range, to that paid to the heads of comparable universities across the UK.
The proposed Advice Zone restructures result in an overall reduction of staff. Why is the University cutting frontline staff? The Advice Zone staff provide essential support to students and reducing it suggests that the University is not committed to student support. It is a detriment our student experience.
The University remains committed to student support. A key objective in the development of the Advice Zones is to develop a modern, professional student-focussed service, delivered through a single gateway to a range of university provision – both physical and virtual. We have looked at equivalent services at universities across the UK to ensure that we reflect best practice.
We started our work to develop Advice Zones two years ago and are progressing well with this project. During the first phase of implementation, Advice Zones have been established in the Cardiff, Newport and Pontypridd campuses. As we now move into the second phase, we are looking to truly make these a one-stop shop, where your enquiries can be dealt with and resolved consistently and efficiently. To do this, we need to refine our staffing structure, job descriptions and processes so that our staff are equipped to deal with a broad spectrum of queries that students may wish to raise with them.
Our plans very much aim to enhance the student experience so that we can have a higher number of queries solved at first point of contact and we are therefore increasing the availability of front-line staff.
We are also investing in a new bit of kit – an enquiry management system – so that we will be better at sharing information between services within the University, meaning that you will only need to tell us something once.
How does the University plan to deliver an adequate DDS service next year? It is already stretched and cuts will hinder students that need support.
A large number of our staff within the Disability and Dyslexia Service are employed on hourly paid and fixed-term contracts. Our proposals are to change the contracts that we use within this area, so that we move to using staff on permanent contracts. This will ensure the support team are integral to student services to provide cohesive and flexible support and strengthen the provision for the future amidst any further changes to Disabled Students Allowance funding.
This will naturally mean that there will be fewer people, but the number of hours of support delivered will remain unchanged. No student will be disadvantaged by these proposals and you will still be able to access excellent DDS support provided by our committed staff.
I am a Glyntaff student and I have never had any reason to travel to the Treforest campus. Why is my point of advice and staff support being moved there?
Our proposals are looking to introduce Information Points at Glyntaff and the Sport Park, where students can make enquiries via online and telephone services. We are also keeping in review and working closely across support departments and faculties to ensure a positive student experience.
We are also planning to continue to offer access on an appointment basis to meet face-to-face with specialist advisors such as from our Money Advice and Disability and Dyslexia Services at Glyntaff.
Students at the Sport Park and Glyntaff, which is a part of the Pontypridd campus, will be able to access the face-to-face Advice Zone services at Treforest. To help with travelling between the sites, there is a free bus service that operates every half an hour between Treforest and Glyntaff, and between Treforest and the Sport Park.
I am really worried there won’t be enough support for mental health, wellbeing and counseling after the University restructures. Can you reassure students there will be adequate support and appointments available for students?
We are looking to rebalance our provision of counselling and mental health support, so that we have an increased focus on supporting students who may be experiencing difficulties with mental health. We are also proposing to align the existing Specialist Mentors with the Wellbeing service to maximize the opportunity for cohesive and responsive support for students.
We will absolutely still have access to clinical one-to-one counselling for those who need it, which will be delivered in partnership with external providers. We started this work some time ago to help us manage demand and we have seen some positive benefits with reductions in waiting times. We are looking at retaining the opportunity to deliver group work sessions as normal practice.
The digital print bureau in Cardiff is an essential service. It provides face-to-face support for printing needs. As a creative campus, it is vital to have such a service and to remove it would be a hindrance to the student experience at the ATRiUM. It would make printing much more difficult for students, especially during term time. Can you please tell us why you are proposing to cut it and what students can use as an alternative? Sending items to print at Treforest is not feasible due to transfer time and lack of face-to-face service.
The University will be implementing an online shop, which will allow students at all campuses to access a comprehensive print service via the web. We are currently piloting the system with staff to ensure we are able to provide students with a suitable service for the new academic year. Once printed, items will be delivered from the print service at Treforest, free of charge, to other campuses. Students will also have the option to pay to have it posted to their home address, should they wish to receive it this way.
The range of services will be far greater than we can currently deliver at Cardiff Campus and allows students to access it at any time and from anywhere.
In addition, we are also currently investigating whether a pop-up service will be required at Cardiff Campus at key pinch points in the year, as well as a binding service.
Will you support a phased reduction in funding for the Play Centre so they can explore alternative funding options?
The current childcare provision receives a subsidy of £142,000 per annum from the University, which will increase to £152,000 in 2017/18 and it is anticipated that this trend will continue. The operating model of the Play Centre has now become unaffordable in the current climate. Many other universities and non-HE sector environments have also experienced the same situation.
The subsidy covers both students, staff and external community users, which in addition to the 30 week student contracts and generous USW staff terms and conditions of employment, all contribute towards the need for a subsidy.
70% of the service is not used by students.
We are open to proposals for different operating models and are consulting on how it could be configured another way without that extra subsidy which comes ultimately from all students, including those on other campuses. Our hope is that we can find a different operating model to enable the service to continue.
Please can you explain the proposals for the library services?
We would like to reassure students (current, future and alumni), staff and all library users, that discussions are being held to look at the way that we can offer accessible, welcoming and safe library services at the University. There are a range of proposals being considered, which reflect current usage and the increased investments being made in USW digital Library collections, such as our increase in 2016/17 on developing and increasing eBooks, and to offer more in terms of staffed Library opening hours at Cardiff and Newport Campus Libraries. The staffing structures to support the proposals are also being reviewed and will see two service teams created. The majority of staff will be in a front of house team (Academic Services Team) with a smaller number in a back of house team (Digital Services Team). This will enhance core staffing in evenings and weekends to provide a more consistent service for users.
We are looking to open our libraries earlier during weekdays in term time from 8am at all campuses to allow students to have access before lectures begin.
At Treforest, there is proposal for a staffed Library presence until midnight during the term time. It is also proposed that there will be an additional 12 weeks of 24/7 staffed Library access to be targeted during exam periods, dissertation and assignment hand-ins (e.g. Nov-Dec and the Spring Term). Discussions as part of the consultation, are being held are to plan to offer secure and safe access to the IT facilities and Library study social learning space in Treforest Library after midnight until 8.30am. Therefore we are still planning on having access to some of the facilities at Treforest library on a 24 hour basis during term time. 24 hour access was introduced as a pilot last year and a review has shown that the majority of students and staff access the Treforest library services before midnight.
At Glyntaff, it is proposed that there will be a staffed library presence until 8pm on weekdays during term time.
At Newport, it is proposed that there will be a staffed library presence until 6pm on weekdays during term time.
At Cardiff, it is proposed that the opening hours will be extended so there is a staffed library presence until 10pm on weekdays during term time.
The proposed hours are currently being discussed with staff, faculties and students, and are subject to change at the end of the consultation based on the feedback received.
Is TESOL, a part of the BA (hons) English and creative writing, closing? If so, why? Will current students enrolled onto TESOL as part of their programme still gain the accreditation?
It is proposed that from 2018/19 BA English will be the primary English degree offered by the University.English Literature will be core to the provision, but within the framework of this course students will be able to elect to take two pathways, one with an emphasis on Creative and Professional Writing and the other on TESOL.It is proposed there be a smalleroffering of TESOL modules, but this will still enable students to gain valuable transferable skills. The faculty is nevertheless committed to the principle that decisions on the future shape of English provision at USW will be determined by the subject specialist staff.With regard to the current provision, the faculty is committed to enabling students to finish on the courses for which they are enrolled, including, where applicable, completing the TESOL certificate.
Why hasn’t the University been open with the student body about the changes?
We want our students to be a part of the consultation process and to provide feedback on the services that affect them. In the first couple of weeks, we focussed our efforts on consulting the staff members whose jobs will be directly affected by these proposals, which we hope everyone will understand. We have since made the same level of information available to both our staff and to our Student Union for dissemination amongst the student body.
The President and Chief Executive of the Students’ Union have met with the Executive Team (which includes the Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro Vice-Chancellors), the Deans of faculties, as well as the Executive Directors, who head the operational and professional service functions. We have encouraged the SU to ask questions and to challenge the proposals. We have had to make tough decisions when putting these proposals together, and we want this to be a robust consultation. We want our plans to ensure that we remain both financially sound, but more importantly that the overall student experience isn’t adversely affected