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Policy Digest: October 2023

All the latest Arts SU, UAL, and national policy updates in one handy place!


(Please note: 'HE News' contains an update that references suicide. Please proceed with caution if this is something you may find distressing to read. Our Advice team has plenty of wellbeing resources available to access here.)

Updates from the Policy Team 

  • Next week on Monday 6th November, we will be launching our Arts SU Cost of Travel Survey. This major research project for the year is linked to Union Affairs Officer Daniela’s priority around supporting commuter students; the survey will ask you about the money you spend on coming to university, as well as other questions about your travel experiences, such as transporting artwork or travelling to SU events. The project will produce data that can be used by multiple teams across the SU, so we are excited for the launch to commence. Find the survey here!

  • Later this term our Senior Policy and Research Officer Calum will be facilitating focus groups around the satisfaction of students in the second year of their degree. According to UAL surveys, there is a significant drop-off in satisfaction amongst students in their second year, compared to their first year of their degree. We want to support the university to understand this phenomenon, and so will be interviewing second year students to gain insight into why their expectations are not being met, and what the university could put in place to make their experience better.  

  • The Crits Working Group is undertaking exciting work this year, with both an external and internal focus. Externally, Calum is co-authoring a paper with Danielle Tran, head of UAL’s Teaching and Learning Exchange, that will aim to introduce a minimum standard for how crits are delivered at UAL. This will be a major development in our crits campaign, and will be the first time UAL will introduce policy to formalise how crits are delivered to ensure all students are having a positive experience. 

  • Externally, Calum will be working with Aisling and the Arts Programme Team to support the development of a zine or guidance resource for staff looking to facilitate crits at the SU. This resource will aim to provide accessible and practical information in how to make a crit event inclusive, and how to support meaningful discussions in the crit space. This is a really exciting new project – so watch this space!

HE news 

  • Bereaved parents whose children have taken their own lives while at university have criticised the government’s planned review of student suicides in England, describing it as “a slap in the face” for families. They are concerned that the review as proposed will not be sufficiently rigorous or independent, and will be limited instead to a meta-analysis of internal university reports into a student’s suicide, produced by the very institutions that many parents blame for not taking adequate care of their child. You can read more here.

  • Trade unions for the creative sector (Equity and BECTU) have published intimacy guidelines for students and staff in higher education. The guidelines are designed to address issues arising from sexual misconduct and also wider concerns that feed into mental health problems that students face. CSM’s Drama Centre London was shut down in 2022 after a review found allegations of bullying and harassment present within the Acting courses’ delivery, as well as concerns over academic development, quality assurance and equal opportunities. You can read more here.

  • Leaving university with a 2:1 is becoming less important than ever to secure graduate jobs in the UK, according to an annual survey of employers. With fewer than half of companies requiring the qualification, the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) said, businesses were increasingly seeing it as a “crude” measurement. When Arts SU delivered focus groups as part of The Big Question research, students reported that having a comprehensive portfolio is more important for their career objectives than what degree grade they achieve. You can read more here.


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