Throughout the 2020/21 academic year we consulted with over 1000 UAL students to understand your experiences at UAL, priorities and how the SU currently represents you as a student and what may need improving to better align your representation to your needs. 

We wanted to find out the answers to the big questions:

1. Who are our members (UAL Students) ?
2. How do our members see their community?  
3. How do our members view their Students’ Union?  
4. What power do our members have in our decision making? (Influencing the work of the students’ union) 
5. How effective are our representation systems currently? (Influencing the work of the university) 

What is the Review doing? 

  • Consulting our members to better understand their relationship with the Students' Union. 

  • Identifying and assessing current engagement/perceptions of our democratic processes.

  • Reviewing how students want to make decisions on issues affecting them. 

What we're we aiming to achieve? 

  • A better understanding of our 18,500 members everyday lives at UAL and the challenges they face, leading to more engagement across every college/school.?

  • Our democratic processes accurately reflect the needs of our members and provide inclusive/accessible platforms for the student's voice, ensuring our decisions are truly member-led.?

  • Every individual member has equal footing and social capital to run for leadership positions, participate in decision making and lead the direction of the Students' Union. ?

  • Our representation roles are fit for purpose with a clear and defined link to the identity and voice of the student community. 

Timeline of the Review

1. Consultation Stage: 19th October -  December 18th 2020

2. Synthesis of Research: 11th January - 22nd January 2021

3. Proposal Setting: 22nd January  - 23rd February 2021

4. All Student Notice of Referendum: 26th February 2021

5. Referendum: 8th March 10am - 16th March, 3pm 2021

6. Results of Referendum: Wednesday 17th March, 2-3pm 2021

How & Who Did We Consult?

We held various consultations with you through online surveys and meetings, talking to various representatives who work with the SU and students across the colleges who have different levels of engagement with our activities. 

Consultation Date UAL Students
Society & Sport Committee Members: Consultation & Survey September 2020 33
Course Reps: Dean Forums (x 11) & Registeration Survey September - December 2020 664 (incl 200 in Dean Forums)
Autumn Elections: Feedback from Voters & Candidates November 2020 63
(53 Voters + 10 Candidates)
Annual General Meeting: Poll November 2020 37
Welcome 2020: Feedback Survey October 2020 168
Consultation Groups x 6: With students who don't engage in SU activities (Each College) November 2020 – January 2021? 20
Democracy Review Survey November 2020? 28
Student feedback on proposal drafts February 2021 15
Total   1,028

Key Findings

1. SU presence in your studies - Students want Arts SU to focus more attention at a college level, building a campus presence and influencing the quality of their Learning & Teaching. 

2. Accessible opportunities to get involved - You would like to see more opportunities to develop creative campaigns and focus on building practical skills for your career in the arts. This should be reflected in the opportunities available to get involved in your representation, having them as defined paid job roles. 

3. Communication and transparency - Students have different levels of understanding and engagement in our current system depending on which college you are at UAL. Students want transparency on what they're representatives are working on, focusing on linking them with SU initiatives and communication. 

4. You want to drive change - A high proportion of students we consulted want to make change at UAL on issues they feel passionate about but don't know how they can use their Students' Union to do this. It isn't always obvious hold to get involved with Arts SU , or that we can be accessed by every student at UAL. 

Full-Time Officer Roles 

Key Findings
  • 125 course reps (20%) ranked working with the Full-Time Officers to enact change in their college to be the 2nd biggest challenge going into their role. Course Rep Registeration Survey?

  • "Knowing who to go to, communication with students and being informed is crucial for students to know how the su works to represent students and how to get involved" Dean Forum?

  • "I think it would be more helpful to feel like more of a collective group within our college, and then maybe we can {think about organising] activities and events amongst the other UAL schools" Dean Forum?

  • College representation came out no 1 on how students wished to be represented. AGM Poll & Democracy Survey ?

What this tells us ?

  • Our members see themselves foremost as a member of their College. Aside from sitting under an umbrella Institution, students do not generally associate themselves as being connected to the other colleges within UAL and would rarely attend other sites. 

  • Not all the current Officer roles fit into the wider representation structure, meaning many issues faced by students at a college level or school are not being addressed or highlighted. 

  • Communication with students on the ground within colleges is patchy and inconsistent, meaning not every student has the same opportunities and ability to engage with the Students' Union. 

Part-Time Liberation Officers

Key Findings

  • 19% of students referenced "Improved Career Opportunities" as a priority for the Students' Union. Welcome Survey 2020

  • LGBTQ+ Society - "I know that the SU runs projects and has representatives that have some overlap with LGBTQ+ Society but we don’t know how to get involved in these outside of the society itself". Society/Sports Committee Consultation

  • "I think having sessions and workshops with liberation groups individually to find out the specific things they want will ensure their voices and needs are represented better at UAL" Liberation Welcome Events Feedback Survey

  • 32% of students were not confident that our Liberation Officer positions enact meaningful change. Autumn Elections Survey

What does this mean?

  • Only ¼ of students said that they would be interested in running for a PTO role. We understand that time restraints and prior commitment to paid work are often barriers to involvement in our initiatives. 

  • The UAL student body has changed in diversity over last 7 years from when the Part-Time Officer structure was set and student communities face new challenges in Higher Education today.

  • We know that several of our student communities (Asian & Minority Ethnicity, Commuter Students) feel disenfranchised by our current democratic model, and don’t see themselves represented in this structure

Part-Time College Officers

Key Findings

  • 400 Course Reps ranked "Driving change to teaching and learning practices specific to my course" as their highest priority when creating change at UAL". Course Rep Registeration Survey 2020?

  • "It's frustrating that students can only lobby and communicate ideas or concerns on their course and can't directly affect the speed of response from the SU, CCW or University- which at times have been slow , evasive or bland" Course Rep Experience Survey 2020?

  • "The SU needs to do better at connecting students together, through robust communication by itself and its Officers in relation to course reps across the University". Dean Forum?

  • Over 50% of respondents identified learning as a key criteria to represented on. AGM Poll 2020

What does this mean?

  • Students and representatives dont always know who their Part-Time College Officer role is, meaning there can be no direct line of feedback to the SU when making decisions for students. ?

  • The SU has little presence with students within their courses and schools creating a conundrum in how students engage with their representatives. 

  • Students identify most with their creative practice in their school/department; engaging in academic issues, social opportunities and employability development related to that practice. 

SU Decision Making - Student Council

Key Findings

  • "I didn't even know that Student Council existed until someone told me about it" LCC Student Consultation Group?

  • "Students in order to influence SU decisions need a clear and regulated communication system, knowing when a student experience improvement hearing will take place and how to raise things with UAL to feedback concerns" LCC Student Consultation Group?

  • "Very difficult to find information about the SU, how it represents me and what representatives are doing to improve my experience at UAL" - LCF Student Consultation Group 2020?

  • Students noted that time constraints are a major barrier to their engagement with SU decision making. AGM Poll 2020

What does this mean?

  • Students have very little understanding and engagement with our current Student Council structure that is outdated and empowers a select few than the many. ??

  • How UAL students want to direct and influence decision make change is uniquely channeled through creative mediums that are easily accessible in the digital age.?

  • Time constraints and engagement barriers means student participation in democratic processes needs to be straight forward and have clear outcomes for students.?