Committee reference number: CN/06/59 Security Classification: Open
Annual Report of the Student Services – 2005
Dr Alan Rump – Director of Student Services
Council is asked to: note the contents of the report
Paper history: the report has been seen by the Student Affairs Committee, UPARC and
Responsibility for ensuring delivery of any actions: Director of Student Services
Report of the Student Services – Summary
From 1998 to 2004, the undergraduate intake grew at an average of 3.5% per annum, but the demands made of the Student Services have grown faster still. The number of students using the Counselling Service has increased by 20% in the last two years. Drop-in interviews at the Careers Service increased by 40% in two years, whilst use of its e-guidance facilities increased by 37% last year alone. Attendance at the Access Unit increased by 145% last year.
Our Education Strategy puts emphasis on the rounded student experience and our Widening Participation Strategy on seeking and supporting an increasingly diverse student population. Next year, higher tuition fees will change our market place and the „OFFA‟ agreement will have to be honoured. As the year‟s delay in meeting the needs of the Counselling Service
showed, the Student Services must not enter the new era under-resourced.
Legislative and other governmental pressures
Besides „mainstream‟ pressures such as the requirements of Health and Safety, Equality and Diversity, Workplace law and the like, the services face more specific pressures: the new GP contract; the code of practice on accommodation management soon to be agreed with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister; substantively backing-up the letter and spirit of our agreement with „OFFA‟; and the additions to, and approaching milestones of, the DDA.
Provision for students with mental health difficulties is a particularly difficult sub-set of the DDA, given the poverty of local NHS services. The Access Unit already offers specialized counselling for deaf and disabled students; the work of the Counselling Service will be expanded, though the action plan will demand resource beyond that already granted; the Student Health Service is investigating on-site clinics conducted by a visiting Registrar; but, despite these developments, consideration might be given to appointing a (part-time) mental health „co-ordinator‟ to provide both a focus for our provision and a channel for the
implementation of our responsibilities in the academic arena.
Developing new expertise
The Accommodation Office has now passed its first full audit to qualify for the Legal Services Commission‟s Quality Mark – the first in the country to do so. The Access Unit
has become an accredited regional training centre for electronic note-taking. The Student Health Service now offers enhanced level services in sexual health, minor surgery, pre and post-operative care, asthma and diabetes. The Careers Advisory Service leads other services in the development of IT services such as „Jobs by Email‟, E-guidance‟ and „Castanet‟ (an
employer and vacancy database). The Chaplaincy team has welcomed new members from the Muslim community, the orthodox and progressive synagogues, and the Quakers. The Postgraduate Union has been successfully launched and the Careers Advisory Service will shortly appoint a new adviser specifically for postgraduates.
The Union Vice-President conducted a wide-ranging survey of student support. The satisfactory or better ratings of the Student Services ranged between 82% and 93%. Some suggestions have already been acted on: a second „phone line has been installed for the
Health Service and surgery times have been staggered during lunch times and early mornings;
a working group has reported on the development of the Jobshop; the Accommodation
Office web-site has been completely overhauled, as has the reporting mechanism for dealing
with complaints for partnership properties, and an action plan has been produced for
expanding the availability of the Counselling Service. The Union‟s provision for (mainly
first year) students not living in hall has been revitalised and relaunched as „Orbital‟. Work
is progressing on the web-based „Welfare Map‟ which, it is hoped, will go live in the Spring.
In December, the Student Health Service moved into Hampton House, which has been
bought and redeveloped by an „NHS Lift‟ company from which the local Primary Care Trust
rents the premises.
Neither the Chaplaincy nor the Counselling Service are accessible by disabled students; the
rooms available to the Counselling Service can no longer provide for demand; the Nursery
has a very long waiting list. Although none of these services may ultimately be housed
within the ambit of the „Nucleus‟ itself, it is important that their needs are properly
acknowledged in the work of the „Nucleus Project‟. Rehousing the Students‟ Union is
central to that project, but necessary improvements have nonetheless been made to the foyer
and bar of the present building.
Budget Out-turn Accommodation Office 222 180 Access Unit for Deaf and Disabled Students 229 211 Careers Advisory Service 534 535 Student Counselling Service 134 142 Student Health Service 222 190 UBU Block Grant 900 900 Chaplaincy 0 2
_____ _____ Total 2,241 2,160
Dr Alan Rump – Director of Student Services
The Accommodation Office
? First Years
This year we received 3586 applications for student residences. The newly designed and more informative application form had the desired effect of increasing applications to traditionally less popular Halls.
3249 first year students were housed in University Residences or Deans Court with a further 241 returners housed. At the start of term there were 18 vacancies in permanent spaces but these were matched by 18 students placed by Halls into temporary rooms, which were not originally included in the number of spaces to be allocated.
No abusive and angry telephone calls and letters were received from parents and students unhappy with their allocation for the first time and we believe this is entirely due to the increased information available to students about the allocations process. Standard tenancies were introduced for all Student Residences this year with very few problems.
The challenge facing Student Residences for the next year will be the introduction of the UUK Code of Standards and Management. We anticipate devoting considerable time and resources to ensuring that the University is able to demonstrate compliance. Additionally there is an urgent need for a clear strategy on increasing undergraduate spaces available to compensate for spaces lost through disposals and to allow for an expansion in numbers.
? Other Undergraduates
The number of returner spaces to Halls was cut again this year. This further diminishes the role of the Hall community. 390 returners were allocated to Unite House, thus no guaranteed payment will be due from the University. Next year however, Unite House will be facing competition from UNITE‟s direct let properties as their bed spaces in central Bristol increase to around 800. There is a significant danger in the fact that UNITE‟s income from Unite House is guaranteed and thus their obvious preference will be to divert students to their own direct let vacancies. The situation will require careful monitoring and management.
Over 250 Erasmus students attended the Accommodation Office‟s House Search Event. We succeeded in finding housing for all of them within the private sector.
The fall in applications from overseas fee paying postgraduates had a very severe effect on University Allocated Accommodation. The number of Guaranteed Overseas Postgraduates housed fell from 350 in 2004 to only 238 this year and the number of Non Guaranteed Overseas Postgraduates rose only a little from 77 in 2004 to 82 this year. The Accommodation Office faced considerable difficulties in meeting the rent guarantees on Partnership Properties because there were simply not enough postgraduate students who wanted University Allocated Accommodation. We were, however, able to meet the targets set by offering tenancies to University Research Staff.
The recent disastrous events at Chantry Court should not be allowed to overshadow the success of our other postgraduate scheme at Deans Court owned and managed by Dominion
Housing, which has once again provided a first class service to its tenants. There is every indication that this will continue with the Dominion Residence at Woodland Court.
? The Private Sector
Over 1500 first year students attended the Annual Housing Fair in February intended to provide them with all the information for a successful time in a private tenancy. This year the