Closing the feedback loop…. Academic Affairs Achievements

Closing the feedback loop…. Academic Affairs Achievements

So something that I don’t think we do as well as we could as sabbatical officers, or in fact a Students’ Union (although we are getting much better) is closing the feedback loop and really shouting about the things we achieve, even the smaller things that could still make a big difference in the long run! In order to rectify this, I’m blogging about all of the things that I have managed to achieve in the last 20 months, i.e. the time that I have been in post. There might be a couple of things that I’ve missed out but I’ll try my best to remember everything!

Hopefully this will also help people to realise why we really need sabbatical officers to help change things for students.

So I have constantly lobbied the university for Electronic Submission and Feedback (eSAF) to be implemented, the university have invested in the software and training to make this happen and pilots are currently under way to ensure everything works for the big roll out next academic year.

I ran a campaign on the quality and legibility of feedback and presented a set of recommendations to the university, they took these on board and have now come up a comprehensive document about assessment & feedback principles that are currently being disseminated to staff, which should improve both assessment & feedback for ALL students at Northumbria.

Although a much smaller and quicker win, something that was a result of me taking an issue further up the food chain, was an extension for some final year fashion students, who had access to facilities cut off when they needed them to help with an assignment, without any notice.

I have assisted in training and inspiring more course reps face to face than ever before, which means students are better represented at every level and local issues can be dealt with much more effectively.

I launched the Student Led Teaching Awards last year and these are currently happening again, progress has been made and they are set to be even bigger and better than last year. We have had over 1,000 nominations over 2 years and we’re not even finished this year yet. Such awards help to showcase best practice across the university, which in turn will hopefully enhance the quality of your education.

Another small win but a dedicated win for postgrad students was securing temporary, short term accommodation within the university for Postgraduate Research Students that need it, especially those doing field work abroad etc. I’m also taking policy to NUS National Conference on research supervision.

I have led a campaign on group work and ensuring that the process and marking of group work is fair, again I have submitted a number of recommendations to the university and workshops are going to be held with staff at the university about these and how to conduct group work assessments effectively.

Group Work Flyer Picture

We have implemented a team of Student Advice Reps (STARs) to assist students at the most difficult times, for example when they need to attend discipline meetings or are accused of cheating. I have also empowered them to run an awareness campaign that is currently going on about the consequences of what students write on social media which in some of the worst cases could get you kicked off your degree, did you know that?

I have liaised with timetabling along with faculty reps to bring you a clearer layout for your timetable and I am continuing to work with them to bring you longer term changes about communication and how timetabled sessions can be the most convenient for students.

Although I didn’t do the research and everything, on the Coach Lane bus having an extra stop, it was in fact me that mentioned that we’ve had lots of feedback that it didn’t stop in Heaton, at an initial meeting, so I was the instigator for the action that followed. J

Another small win, however a beneficial one, a student brought up the fact you weren’t told that your library book is due on the actual day that it is due, however after lobbying the library you are now, via e-mail!

I have led a mass consultation with students from all different backgrounds on the vision of what a Northumbria education should be and all of things we would like the university to incorporate into their work streams, which will form our second Education Policy. Watch this space as there is more consultation and drafting that will be going on over summer.

Feedback from myself and academic reps about the fact that Desktop Anywhere is quite frankly a pain in the ass means that the university in time are going to get rid of it and replace it with something much, much better.

In addition, I have supported many of the other campaigns and priorities of the other officers for instance 24 opening hours and refreshers week.

I have also raised things that I have been mandated to do and are on my manifesto CONSTANTLY! For instance, printer credits (which the university are currently looking to do something about), better placement support and recording lectures are just a snapshot of the things that I have lobbied on whilst in my role.

Some of these things are long term and we’ll see some of the results over time which I’m sure my successor will take credit for ;) however an issue being addressed does have to start somewhere.

If there are any questions about absolutely any of this or other things that you think I should be doing then please do e-mail me at

And in a final plea please make sure you vote in the Students’ Union elections, in order to ensure that a passionate and deserving candidate is picked to represent you and keep achieving even more under the Academic Affairs umbrella. Speak to them and see how what they want to achieve would benefit you. Vote here…

So there you go, I think that’s a summary of my achievements that should hopefully let you know that I haven’t wasted my time in office and should go somewhere towards closing the feedback loop. However, to reach as many people as possible we need to spread the word, so I’d love it if you could do that in any way possible. J


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