Edinburgh University Students Association. Strategic Plan

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1 015 Edinburgh University Students Association Strategic Plan 019

2 Pleasance Teviot

3 1 Contents Welcome 2 Research 3 EUSA s relevance 4 Vision 5 Values 6 Mission 7 Goals and supporting activity 8-17 Key change projects Targets and key performance indicators 20

4 Welcome Thank you for taking the time to pick up and read our Strategic Plan. We hope you find it informative and that it gives you an insight into Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) and our ambitions and hopes for the future. EUSA is a complex organisation that offers a wide range of services and support to our members students at the University of Edinburgh. We have worked hard to research and devise this plan and we are now working hard to implement it. The plan runs for four years from April 2015 through to April In that time we intend to transform the organisation into one of the best Students Unions in the UK. However, we know we will only achieve this by having a clear, focused vision. A vision centred on our true purpose to make Edinburgh students lives better. The following pages articulate this long-term vision for Edinburgh students and EUSA s role in helping to deliver it. By focusing on our students we believe EUSA will find its place at the heart of students lives. This plan is built on detailed research and a sound understanding and appreciation of where we are beginning. The plan outlines our key goals for the next four years and also the underlying activity we must get right to support the delivery of our goals and ultimately our vision. The plan reflects the things that students have told us are most important to them and what they want to see from their Students Union. There are many things that we do well, but there are also things we know we need to adapt or improve upon if we are to live up to our students expectations. This plan will give us the framework to do that. Central to that framework are our values which offer clear and consistent guidance to how we will approach and undertake our work. We are looking forward to this journey, we know it will not solve all of our issues, and we are unlikely to see our long-term vision for students fully realised in its four year lifetime, but we think we can make a significant change for the better and have set ourselves ambitious targets to do so. Briana Pegado EUSA President 2014/15 Stephen Hubbard EUSA Chief Executive 2

5 3 Research In order to provide a sound base for our strategic planning, and with the University s support, we commissioned the largest research exercise EUSA has ever undertaken. Over 3,500 of our students were involved; the vast majority answering a comprehensive questionnaire about their views on EUSA and their own concerns and aspirations as students at the University of Edinburgh. Our external research company also carried out focus groups with a range of students; including groups that are traditionally harder to reach for EUSA for example, mature and part-time students as well as postgraduate research students. Our staff views were included through both surveys and workshops, as were the views of trustees and student representatives and volunteers. Also included were interviews with key stakeholder groups including the University, National Union of Students (NUS) and other external groups. There were many positive comments from those who contributed to the research. Some students were heavily involved in EUSA and others valued its services. However, a significant number of students lacked affinity to EUSA and were apathetic about developing a closer relationship or understanding. The research also highlighted a number of other issues, some of which we knew about, others we did not. Our strategic planning is therefore focussed on addressing these more problematic areas. Key research findings included: Significant numbers of students felt EUSA was not relevant to them Whilst students knew about EUSA, they did not often identify or recognise EUSA services Students felt little ownership over EUSA and many did not see themselves as active members Students wanted EUSA to: Improve their academic experience Develop their skills Provide a social experience Provide a broader range of services In addition, when exploring with students and others in more detail it was clear: EUSA had an image problem and a mixed identity, with some students not understanding what EUSA is or what it does There was a negative perception around EUSA and politics; mainly taken from press coverage The reach of EUSA s services was perhaps limited and students did not understand the lack of integration between EUSA and other services and parts of the University Students did not feel EUSA s democracy was accessible and in any case had little motivation to get involved It was a common perception that EUSA had a lack of resources for development and investment Staff development, structures and pay levels were all inadequate The multi-site nature of the University led to a fragmented experience and lower affinity

6 EUSA s relevance Increasing our relevance to students at Edinburgh underpins all other strategic objectives. Students must feel that EUSA is relevant to their university experience in order for us to effectively represent and support them, engage them in our democratic processes and inspire them to achieve their ambitions. Research tells us that at present disengaged students exist in significant numbers. In 2014 around a third of students said they were neutral in terms of overall satisfaction with EUSA and 30% of final year undergraduates surveyed in the National Student Survey described a question about EUSA as not applicable. To begin increasing our relevance to a broader range of students we must first address aspects of our activity and behaviour which may alienate and cause some of those who attempt to engage with us to withdraw. We must then actively work to reach out to all students with a new offer, based on an understanding of their differing needs and circumstances, and sensitive to their environment. EUSA cannot be all things to all people so we must take a portfolio approach to the way we evolve our activities and services, ensuring that we offer significant value to all students in different ways, while allowing individual services to focus and specialise where appropriate. While it is obvious that a key overall aim is to increase satisfaction with EUSA, we cannot achieve this until we are relevant and students seek to engage with us. In the short-term we may have to accept that increasing engagement will lead to a minority of negative experiences amongst the majority of positive ones. Therefore our initial objective is to reduce neutrality. Longer-term, this will allow us to improve our overall impact by understanding more about the experiences of students and converting any remaining negative sentiment into positive. An overall theme of our goals and supporting actions must be to increase the relevance of EUSA to all student demographics and segments. 4

7 5 Vision We believe all students at Edinburgh should have the power to shape their own future and enjoy a vibrant and cohesive student community without prejudice or marginalisation. This strategic plan focuses on the big changes that EUSA can help bring about to improve the lives of our students. Ultimately, our long-term vison and belief is that all Edinburgh students should: Have the power and opportunity to shape their own university experience and their future Experience a sense of belonging within an open and welcoming student community Be recognised as a valuable part of society and live free from financial, academic or social marginalisation Be treated fairly as individuals, with respect and without prejudice Be encouraged and supported in pursuing existing interests, and stimulated by new experiences Have the opportunities and the means to live happy and healthy lives Feel safe and secure in all places of work, study, leisure and living

8 Values Student-focused University of Edinburgh students are our core purpose; they are at the heart of our vision, and their needs and wants are central to all the decisions we make. Our core values are the most important way in which we define who we are. They guide our strategy, inform our everyday decisions and influence our behaviour; both as an organisation and as individuals representing EUSA. Respectful We are respectful of our students, partners, stakeholders and our team. We welcome and respect diverse views and recognise their importance to a healthy and vibrant student community. Inclusive We strive to make decisions which consider the diverse needs of all students equally, and work to remove barriers which prevent full enjoyment of Edinburgh student life. Effective We recognise the overwhelming focus of our students on practical day-to-day issues, and seek to prioritise support, representation and campaigning where we can be most effective. Welcoming We offer a friendly smile and a welcoming environment to all students at Edinburgh. Helpful We have a pro-active attitude and a positive desire to help each other and our students overcome challenges, however large or small they are. Inspiring We recognise our role to inspire and encourage our students to discover and explore the world around them. We welcome new ideas and look for ways to improve through innovation. Sustainable We will always seek to be ethical and sustainable, balancing the immediate needs of Edinburgh students with our responsibilities toward future generations. 6

9 7 Mission EUSA is a vibrant and supportive union of students. We are an independent democratic membership organisation working in partnership with the University of Edinburgh and others to ensure that student voices are heard, valued and acted upon. We work to ensure that all members are able to participate fully, are valued as equals, and are able to shape their long-term future in the way that is right for them. We do this by: Providing a friendly and welcoming environment, allowing all students to feel they have a safe and secure home away from home while at Edinburgh Offering outstanding professional student support on a wide range of academic, social, health and financial issues Encouraging students to form close and long-lasting relationships through the pursuit of social activity, shared interests and common causes Attracting students to new experiences and providing opportunities for them to discover new ways in which to achieve their potential in the world Representing students to the University and beyond, campaigning and securing positive change on issues that really matter to students lives Delivering a range of services that are ethical, accessible and sustainable, ensuring all students are able to enjoy Edinburgh student life to the full

10 Goals and supporting activity Our goals represent our primary focus for change between 2015 and They are not intended to represent the entirety of our work, or even the most important aspects of what we do every day. They are the principle ways in which we have identified an opportunity to make a significant move towards delivering our ultimate vision. In order to deliver our goals we recognise we have to be a fit for purpose effective organisation and we have identified eight aspects of our work which are the key supporting activities to enable our plan. 8

11 9 Goal 2 All students will enjoy a high quality academic experience supported by EUSA Goal 3 Students will choose EUSA as a part of their everyday student life Goal 4 Every student will be encouraged and supported by EUSA to develop their interests and shape their future Goal 1 Students will experience a dramatic increase in personal contact with the EUSA team Vision We believe all students at Edinburgh should have the power to shape their own future and enjoy a vibrant and cohesive student community without prejudice or marginalisation Goal 5 Students will know that EUSA understands their priorities and responds effectively Supporting activity: Productive relationships Engaged people Clear governance Sustainable finances Enabling technologies Active communications Relevant and diverse services Vibrant and distinctive union spaces

12 Goal 1 Students will experience a dramatic increase in personal contact with the EUSA team We believe that increasing personal contact will engage more students with our services over time. This will encourage greater participation in democratic and representational structures, ultimately making EUSA more representative of all students at Edinburgh. Increasing contact will also ensure we are better able to listen to, reflect and pursue issues that are important to our membership and will foster increased accountability and recognition of our successes. To increase our relevance we need to establish better physical and emotional connections with our students. Student welfare is a major part of EUSA s role and to be effective, we need to be accessible and easy to approach. We anticipate this goal will be achieved through a combination of increased contact via representatives, staff and volunteers. 10

13 11 Goal 2 All students will enjoy a high quality academic experience supported by EUSA Students have told us that improving the academic experience should be one of our top priorities. We recognise that Edinburgh students should expect, and be able to, access a high quality academic experience, befitting a world-class institution. One of the challenges students face is that it can be difficult to know what they should reasonably be able to expect from their academic experience. EUSA can play a role in raising awareness of acceptable standards in relation to key academic activity such as essay feedback, contact time, teaching notes and other issues. In addition, students are sometimes frustrated at the pace of change, feeling that the outcome or resolution of an academic complaint or issue may, at best, only benefit students that follow them. This discourages students from taking the risk, time and effort to raise important issues. We believe EUSA can support a high quality academic experience by representing students views to the University, ensuring student input is central to all University activity, and enabling students to be active partners within the academic community. We can also supplement the University provision with our own services and facilities.

14 Goal 3 Students will choose EUSA as a part of their everyday student life In order to be held accountable and to encourage greater engagement with us students must clearly understand who we are, what we do, and the positive influence and impact we can have over their experience while at Edinburgh. We will attract participation and engagement from students by clearly demonstrating the value of doing so at all levels from the day-to-day benefits of accessing our services and facilities through to the potentially life-changing impact of deeper involvement in EUSA supported activities, services and the running of EUSA itself. We must clarify our identity and distinguish our activities from those of other organisations, in order to encourage students to recognise their ownership of EUSA, and engage with us to make the changes they want to see. We will avoid activity that alienates individuals and prevents them from engaging with EUSA, and ensure that our working culture reflects our core values in everything we do. 12

15 13 Goal 4 Every student will be encouraged and supported by EUSA to develop their interests and shape their future We believe that EUSA has a central role to support students in the pursuit of their interests and passions which studying at Edinburgh. Extra-curricular activity has a huge number of social, physical and psychological benefits in addition to just being a great opportunity to have fun and meet new people. Paid work with EUSA and volunteering should have similar benefits. By encouraging and supporting students to share their passions with each other, we can open up new opportunities for self-discovery. In this way EUSA can be a portal through which students can explore the world and begin to shape their own future and their place within it. We feel that EUSA is uniquely positioned to help students discover alternative views of their future, which are equally valid as a conventional career path. We believe that as well as being the next generation of great scientists, artists, legal minds and corporate leaders, Edinburgh students can and should also be at the forefront of new ways of working and living; as global public servants, social entrepreneurs, virtual activists and social pioneers.

16 Goal 5 Students will know that EUSA understands their priorities and responds effectively One of EUSA s key roles is to understand and represent the needs of students at the University, in Edinburgh and in the wider world. In order to do this effectively, we must have an excellent representation framework and effective research and communication methods to capture issues and apply influence to achieve change. However, achieving change silently is not enough. We need students to have a broad awareness of our activities and successes, to encourage them to bring issues to us, confident that we are able to achieve change. We need more students supporting our campaigns and engaging in our democratic process to bolster our credibility and our power to influence. To achieve this we must be utterly focused on the priorities of our students, tenacious in our work to achieve positive change, and proud to share news of our successes with students to close the loop, encourage further engagement and re-enforce our capacity to influence others. 14


18 Supporting activity We have identified eight key supporting activities that we will need to deliver to underpin our organisational effectiveness and enable the delivery of our goals and the realisation of our strategy. 1 Sustainable finances Planned, transparent and understood: enabling us to strengthen and grow, be resilient, anticipate change, take advantage of opportunities and plan for the future. Being as efficient as we can, making sensible savings, and looking for new ways to increase our income. 2 Productive relationships We will take time to pay attention to our relationships; for example with students, the University, NUS, suppliers and other partners. We will explore opportunities by listening and being pro-active in order to get the best outcomes for EUSA and our members. 3 Enabling technologies We will use technology to enable us to be: faster; more efficient; more accessible; more responsive; more interactive; more creative; more convenient: For our members, and internally. 4 Engaged people We will support and develop our staff, student representatives and volunteers and members so that everyone feels a valued part of EUSA, and actively and enthusiastically contributes to, and shapes, the organisation and what we do. 5 Active communications We will enable positive, proactive and appropriate two-way interactions with our members, staff, the University and other stakeholders. 16

19 17 6 Clear governance We will develop clear organisational frameworks to operate within, and for our members to interact with and influence the organisation. This will create understanding and confidence in who does what, where responsibility lies for each area of our operations, how to get things done, how changes are made, and who decides. We will actively develop EUSA s processes, enabling us to operate safely, securely and professionally and foster an understanding of the legal framework we operate in as a charity, as a student union and as a service provider. 7 Relevant and diverse services We recognise our members have different needs at different times and in different places. We will respond to our member s needs and wishes, and anticipate future needs. Being adaptable and flexible, and offering alternatives to what is available elsewhere. 8 Vibrant and distinctive union spaces We will operate places our members want to be. Spaces where they feel at home, comfortable, and choose over others, and recognise as ours (provided by EUSA), and theirs (somewhere they feel ownership). Whether it is a building, a room, a small corner or pop-up.

20 Key change projects We have spent time thinking about the changes we must make to bring about our goals and achieve the highly effective supporting activities we need. Whilst we are planning to make many smaller changes across the organisation, we have developed eight clear areas of key change. These key change projects are consensus thoughts and are derived from the goals and supporting activity aims we have set ourselves; informed by the research project undertaken as part of the planning process. As we review our progress over the life of the plan we anticipate that these priorities will change, but at the outset our key change projects are: 1 Financial strategy To maintain our financial recovery plan, but also to forecast for investment in buildings, services and people in order to enhance services to students 2 Staff culture, recognition and reward To undertake a recognition and reward review. To focus on providing great service in all that we do and to strengthen our culture around supporting student leadership. 3 Democratic structures and governance To ensure our governance is fit for purpose and aligned to a review of democratic process and structures that seeks to increase positive engagement with our students and increase student participation. 4 Sabbatical officer and student representatives roles review To consider the number and roles of sabbatical officers and other student representatives to ensure an effective and sustainable representative function. 18

21 19 5 Branding and visual identity To review and enhance the EUSA brand, and corresponding visual identity, to improve student understanding of and affinity to our services. By improving engagement with services we will increase success and student satisfaction. 6 Communications - internal, member and external To review and enhance our communications with students, staff, the University, the wider community and other key stakeholders. This will increase relevance and affinity and improve our performance in all areas. 8 Use of technology To consider how we use technology to improve our service to students and transform the types and range of services we may offer. This is technology in its widest form and not just limited to IT and digital technology but also, for example, facilities management systems, catering equipment, administrative systems and equipment. 7 Buildings and spaces review To review the current use of our buildings space and develop our thoughts on future needs to ensure a fit for purpose Students Association that makes effective and efficient use of space going forward. As well as a space needs and wants review we will also consider a strategy for addressing the multi-site nature of the University operations from a EUSA perspective.

22 Goal or Supporting Activity Target or performance indicator Goal G1 Increased contact with EUSA team A, F G2 Support high quality academic experience A, G, C G3 Students choose EUSA A, H, I, D, P Targets and key performance indicators Draft at 20 May, 2015 G4 Support students to develop A, B G5 EUSA understands students and responds A, C, E, P Supporting Activity SA1 Sustainable finances D SA2 Productive relationships G, M SA3 Enabling technology A, D, H SA4 Engaged people L, J SA5 Active communications A, I, H, F SA6 Clear governance K, E SA7 Relevant and diverse services A, I, H, D SA8 Vibrant and distinctive spaces A, N Ref A Target or performance indicator To be in the top quartile of Students Unions for Q23 in the NSS and score 85% satisfaction rating in the Edinburgh Student Experience Survey (ESES) We have devised a Strategic Plan to change EUSA and transform our services and the relationship with our students. We have set ourselves ambitious targets and performance indicators to signal the achievement of our plan in We have fifteen targets or indicators of performance that monitor how we are doing and demonstrate our achievements. Student opinion measures are from the EUSA Annual Member Survey (EAMS) unless otherwise stated. B C D E F G H I J K L M N P 80% of students agree EUSA made a positive contribution to their development 80% of students agree EUSA listens and represents them well to the University and others (ESES and EAMS) EUSA will have reserves of 3 months operating costs and 0.25m to invest in projects and services 30% turnout of eligible members in EUSA s General Election. 80% of students say they have had positive personal contact with a member of the EUSA team Increase the level of overall student satisfaction with the University of Edinburgh to 88% in the NSS and Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research Experience Surveys 100% increase in the total number of service interactions between EUSA and students 90% of students recognise EUSA services 80% of EUSA staff would recommend EUSA as a place to work (EUSA Staff Survey) EUSA scores 80% in the NUS Good Governance Framework selfassessment audit Achievement of Investors in People Silver and Investors in Volunteers 80% of external stakeholders feel their relationship with EUSA is productive (EUSA Stakeholder Survey) Space occupancy is 75% and all EUSA spaces have a use and development plan EUSA will retain the NUS s coveted/ prestigious Green Impact Excellence accreditation and continue to be placed in the UK s top 5 most sustainable Students Unions 20

23 King s Buildings Potterrow

24 2 Edinburgh University Students Association Tel: Visit: eusa.ed.ac.uk For more information and to keep up-to-date on our Strategic Plan please visit: eusa.ed.ac.uk/about/strategic Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) is a charity (SC015800) and a company limited by guarantee (SC429897) registered in Scotland. Registered Office: Potterrow, 5/2 Bristo Square Edinburgh EH8 9AL 2