Regular Update - November

Your regular update from the SRC.

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Hello University of Glasgow students, 

This is your?regular?update from the Students’ Representative Council (SRC). 

In these updates we report to you on the work your student representatives and the SRC staff have been doing to support, represent, and engage with you. We also let you know about upcoming projects and activities, including new volunteering opportunities and events. 

Semester 1 has flown in as we now approach the beginning of the Winter exam season. It’s been a very busy few weeks since our last update, hence the longer gap between this one and the last.  

Primarily our time has been taken up by advocating for students during the crises of accommodation and Cost of Living, and in our updates below we’ll aim to address any concerns you may have and point toward support. In this newsletter we will be: 

At the base of the update are a list of contacts you can use to get in touch with us. Remember that the SRC are here to support and represent you, so please do reach out if you need our help. 

Yours, 

Rinna, Katie, Hailie, Micaela 
GUSRC Executive?22/23 

 

Updates: 

Cap Student Numbers Now 

On November 16th, we launched our campaign which calls on the University to place a cap on student numbers until 2027 on the Gilmorehill campus. Over the last 5 years, the number of students at the University of Glasgow has risen at an alarming rate. According to the University’s own data, student numbers have increased by almost 40% during this period – that’s over 10,000 additional students.?As the legal representatives of the student body, the SRC has a responsibility to hold the University accountable for the unsustainable growth of student numbers, which we argue is having an increasingly detrimental impact on the student experience. Similarly, the University needs to fulfil?its role to students to provide a safe and high-quality education. You can read our full statement and list of demands here. 

Our latest update on the campaign is that we have met with University senior management to discuss their response and we also had the opportunity to speak about the campaign at University Court, the highest governing body of the University. The University have informed us they will release a public response before the end of the Semester and from our initial conversations we are pleased to report they have engaged positively with our demands and have agreed to include the SRC in future conversations about student numbers. There is however still work to be done, and we still encourage students to join our campaign by sharing our posts on social media and spreading the word. 

 

Student Accommodation  

Responding to support requests around the student accommodation crisis at the start of term continues to be one of our main priorities. We have been following up regularly with senior members of staff at the University to ensure that all necessary measures have been taken to find students suitable housing, especially for those in need of emergency accommodation such as those couch surfing or presenting as homeless. Our Advice Centre can give you guidance on the different options you have if you have been affected by this situation and this information is also available on our website

Cost of Living 

The Cost of Living crisis continues to be a concern for all of us and we encourage you to make use of the support available. At the beginning of the semester, the University published a publicity campaign aiming to raise awareness of all the support that is available. In terms of funding support available, you can apply to the?Hardship?Fund if you’re EU/International and?the Discretionary Fund?if you’re from the UK.  

It’s also important to ensure that you’re paying the right amount for your gas and electricity. Our Advice Centre have some advice on this here. If you’re struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out for support and apply for the funding that exists. You can find the cost of living support pages here. If you need any help with applying for extra funding, you can get in touch with our Advice Centre: advice@src.gla.ac.uk

 

UCU Strike Action 

Last week we published a statement of solidarity and support for the University and College Union (UCU) strike action taking place November 24th, 25th, and 30th. On November 16th?we met as your representative council and the majority of our elected members?voted to support the strike action. We believe it is important for students to understand the reasoning for the strike action and we encourage you to engage with the context and discussion around this. You can read our full statement and reasoning here. 

On Thursday 24th our Sabbatical Officers attended the picket line and spoke to the striking staff to show our support. We want to reiterate our understanding that any?disruption?to learning is far from ideal, and not all?students?will stand in support.?Our intention is not to overlook or dismiss the disadvantage this may cause some students,?but to reiterate our?standpoint that the University should?do everything in its power to mitigate the need to strike at present and at any point in the future. 

If you would like to submit a complaint to the University with regards to the strike action taking place, the SRC Advice Centre have some advice on the University's Complaints procedure here, or you may reach out to?the SRC Advice Centre?for assistance with submitting your complaint. 

 

Exam Support 

The Winter Exam season is fast approaching, and we have been working on your behalf to ensure that adequate support is in place. Through our student representatives on key committees relating to exams and assessment, we have tried to encourage the University to make their communications and support around exams as visible and accessible as possible. Exams this year will take place both in-person and online and there is guidance for both of these cases on the University web pages. 

The SRC Advice Centre have also compiled their own list of Exam Top Tips which includes general advice, as well as specific tips for online and in-person exams. You can also find support by way of our Exam De-stress campaign which launches Monday 5th December and will include a number of fun activities to get you through your studies. 

Elections & Council 

Back in October we held our Autumn Council elections. We are delighted to now have an almost full council of student representatives in our academic, welfare and general positions. Since our last update we have held two council meetings at which the main topics of discussion have been the crises of student accommodation and the Cost of Living, our student numbers campaign, and voting to support the UCU Strikes. Minutes of our past council meetings can be read on our website. 

We are pleased to report on a few cases of ‘student wins’ from our representatives: 

  • Following feedback from class representatives in Student-Staff Liaison Committees, our representatives raised a request for mock exams, since many students will not have sat an in-person exam in several years.?These mock exams are now being planned and will be open for Maths and Stats students to practice for their exam diet. 

  • While most Medical School students attend GP placements within the Glasgow area, some students are assigned placements further afield. The travel costs for those students are a significant barrier to continuing their degrees. After being contacted by students in these circumstances, our representatives spoke with the Head of School and have gotten the school to agree to?address travel fees for students traveling outside the G postcode for GP placements. 

  • At the University level, we were able to lobby the University to create a Student Voice Working Group to?address current issues with collecting and acting on student feedback. This group will work throughout the second term to gather examples of good practice and create a list of recommended actions to send to Senior Management at the University. 

 

Anti-Racism Campaign 

At the beginning of November, the University launched their Anti-Racism campaign. The SRC Exec were consulted and involved during the production of the campaign assets and resources, and we are pleased with the final results and are hopeful that they will have a lasting impact on our campus and its culture. 

Over the coming weeks and months, we intend to work on a student-led anti-racism campaign which complements and feeds into that of the University. Opportunities to be involved in this will be publicised in due course and will be led by our VP Student Support, Hailie, and newly elected Race Equality Officer, Omar. 

Racism has no place on our campus or anywhere else and we hope that this campaign is an effective first step toward a better University of Glasgow for all of us. We are?Together Against Racism. 

The Advice Centre 

Casework 

Since our last newsletter at the start of October, our Advice Centre dealt with a total of 484 cases. Of those cases, 171 related to accommodation issues and we continue to assist students with the ongoing issues in Glasgow with a lack of available accommodation. We assisted 93 students who were still looking for accommodation in Glasgow and 7 students who were facing homelessness and arranged emergency accommodation for them whilst they searched for longer-term secure accommodation. We are continuing to lobby the University to take steps to prevent the same accommodation issues arising again in the 2023/24 academic year. 

During this period, we also assisted 46 students with submitting academic appeals and a further 42 students who had been accused of breaching the Code of Student Conduct. In other areas we assisted student a who was employed by a company over the summer and had been promised an additional bonus payment after they had been working with them for 3 months. Despite contacting the company about the bonus payment repeatedly this was never paid to the student. 

We contacted the company on the student’s behalf, directing them to the reference to the bonus payment in their employment contract and within a few weeks the student received the bonus payment of £500 in their next wages. 

Policy & Campaigning 

The Advice Centre team worked closely with the SRC Exec across October and November on the Student Number campaign referenced above. We also produced additional advice to students on the £400 Energy Grant offered by the UK Government and how to claim this. 

In addition to the above, we have been in discussions since the summer with the Adam Smith Business School about concerns we had with their internal procedure for dealing with students accused of academic misconduct such as plagiarism or cheating in exams. Earlier in the year we had assisted a number of students from the School who had waited over 6 months for the School to review allegations against them which were eventually passed to the Senate Office’s Student Conduct Team. For context, in other Schools this process normally takes around 4-6 weeks. 

 We raised a number of concerns about the processing times and their internal procedures with ASBS and have met with them extensively on this. We are pleased that they have now implemented an internal 3 week service level agreement which means a student accused of academic misconduct in their School will now know within 3 weeks of being notified if their case will be dealt with internally by the Head of School or referred on to the Student Conduct Team for further investigation. They also allowed us to review and suggest changes to all their template emails they use for notifying and corresponding with students accused of academic misconduct. 

SRC Volunteering? 

We’ve continued to be impressed with the number of students engaging with our volunteering service this semester. Here is a selection of our current opportunities: 

  • Social Bite Festival of Kindness? 

Social Bite are back again for their annual Festival of Kindness campaign, to help provide 300,000 meals, gifts, and essential items to homeless and vulnerable people across the UK. This year, they are installing five Social Bite Trees of Kindness, one of which will be located in Vinicombe Street, Glasgow.?At each Tree, supporters can either make a financial contribution or donate a present to someone who is homeless and vulnerable and place it under a tree.?These will then be distributed, along with tens of thousands of other gifts, to homeless people, families, and children in poverty all across the UK.?  

Social Bite are seeking volunteers to help support them, by welcoming supporters and members of the public; showing them how they can make a donation to Social Bite; and promoting the work that Social Bite do.?This opportunity is flexible.?Whether you wish to volunteer for one day, a few days, or throughout the month, it’s entirely up to you! 

 

  • Glasgow Counts Together? 

Glasgow Counts Together is a paired coaching programme, which aims to fill young minds with a sense of agency and endow them with the motivation, courage, and belief in their power to influence their own futures.?Its purpose is to engage children and young people in Glasgow with mathematics and build their comprehension of the subject across the curriculum.?Primary schools across the city are looking for volunteer coaches, to help make maths a positive, enjoyable, and beneficial experience for their children and young people.?  

As a coach, you are responsible for encouraging and supporting your buddy to work through their maths homework, help them to explore different strategies in maths, and help to build their confidence and change their attitudes towards the subject.?If you would like to volunteer, the SRC will help process your PVG application and cover any associated costs, and place you with a suitable school.?Sessions are 30 minutes long, during school hours, and take place a minimum of twice a week.? 

  • Paper Airplanes? 

Are you interested in tutoring Syrian refugees and other individuals affected by conflict??Do you have two hours a week to spare??Apply to become a Paper Airplanes English tutor!?? 

Paper Airplanes provides free, one-on-one virtual language and skills tuition to people affected by conflict.?As a volunteer English tutor, you will be matched with a young adult or a group of young adults (18+), assisting them using Paper Airplanes’ guided curriculum.?No prior tutoring experience or Arabic language skills are required – although both are appreciated – as full training and support will be provided.? 

The time commitment is approximately 2 hours per week, including 15mins of preparation time and 15mins of reviewing homework.?You will meet your student once per week for a 1.5hrs session via Skype/WhatsApp/Google Meets.?The 2023 Spring Semester will run from 23rd?January to 28th?May, and the?deadline for applying to volunteer next term is midnight on 3rd?December, 2022.? 

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For more information on the above roles and to apply, please visit our website and register as a volunteer.? Alternatively, you can get in touch with our Volunteering Coordinator by emailing?volunteering@src.gla.ac.uk

 

Coming Up 

Disability History Month 

This year we are celebrating Disability History Month, which is running between 16th Nov - 16th Dec. We want to use this time to celebrate disabled students from our University of Glasgow community and beyond, but also to raise awareness and knowledge about disability and the history of disability activism. 

We have planned a series of events, panels, and talks related to our theme of health and wellbeing within the disabled community here at the University of Glasgow. Finally, we know how important networks, relationships and support are for your time at university, so have also planned some mixer events, and we encourage people to join the Disabled Students' Network that will extend beyond the month of celebration and education. Find out more about our events and activities on our website. 

 

Exam De-stress 

Preparing for exams and working toward deadlines can be pretty stressful and exhausting, especially when nearing the end of the year, or even your time at university! Here at the SRC, for the upcoming Winter?Exam Diet we're organising a bunch of events, activities and content all designed to encourage you to take a break, get some breathing space, and hopefully lower those stress levels. The activities will run from December 5th to 16th and a full list of events will be available on our website soon. 

 

The Gilchrist Postgraduate Club 

It has been an exciting first semester for The Gilchrist. On October 26th we celebrated the 10th Birthday of the Club by hosting a day of activities in the style of a birthday party. It was great to learn more about the history of the space (once the University switchboard) and discuss ideas for the future of Postgraduate support and representation on campus. 

We have been able to host a brilliant line up of events throughout semester one, including our ever-popular pub quiz, fortnightly knitting for fun sessions, monthly Drag 101 shows, monthly Diversity Quota comedy nights, plus cultural events such as Chinese Culture Week, and live music from the Jazz Society.  

Make sure to stay up to date with the latest Gilchrist events by checking our website or following us on social media @TheGilchristPG (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). For more information on the listed events please contact?gilchristpgclub@src.gla.ac.uk. If you are a postgraduate student or SRC affiliated club that would like to put on your own events in the Gilchrist Postgraduate Club please contact?events@src.gla.ac.uk

 

Contacts: 

Thank you for reading. The next update will be out in the New Year. 

Sent by SRC Communications