Study Spaces: As a lead officer for study spaces, KCLSU launched a questionnaire to listen to student’s views and monitor their study habits. The survey had over 1240 responses in less than three days, and we acquired both quantitative and qualitative thoughts on the current study space arrangement as well as what they would ideally like.
Students will see three types of study spaces; formal, informal and social space. Formal is space that is quiet and structured, such as library spaces and computer rooms. Informal space is seen as more relaxed, where students have the chance to undertake a group study. Social is a space where students can relax. From the analysis of the questionnaire, we found that students would like more informal spaces, equal to that of the amount of formal study space that is currently on campus.
Students have also complained about limited spaces during the run-up to the May exam period. As a result, KCLSU and KCL Estates have been working together to deliver the “Spring Study Spaces @” Project which will be piloted this academic year. We look to convert classrooms that are unused during the run-up to the exam period and convert them into study space.
At the current stage, the pilot will be at occurring at Guy’s and Strand Campuses in KCL and KCLSU Spaces. At Guy’s, we aim to convert five classrooms in the Hodgkin Building into study spaces for at least six weeks. We are also looking to convert KCLSU Activity Room 1 room at Guy’s and two areas in our Bush House Space.
KCLSU is also involved in the HABLab Study Space Project that is looking at making the best use of Wills Library. We are also in conversation with KCL Library Services to see how to improve the student experience.
Finance (Slice the Price Campaign): This campaign looks to focus more on student funding and helping out self-funded students as much as possible. We have an objective to lobby KCL into having a third instalment for all students who are self-funded to ease the burden and stress of those having to pay all the tuition fees by January. An open meeting was conducted to listen and hear what concerns self-funded students have with the current payment system. We are now collecting both quantitative and qualitative data on students for what they would like as a flexible payment plan and proposing to KCL the best way to implement this.
The campaign is also looking at how there can be more accessible to bursaries and scholarships to students, specifically for students who self-fund, to make the process as simple, clear and accessible for all students.
Assessment and Feedback: Currently, within the health faculties, most students have one exam or multiple final exams at the end of the year covering the entire syllabus. In my discussion with the college, I’ve expressed how students find it challenging to cope with the stress of having all the assessments at the end of the year that count towards such a big total. The college is willing to looking into spacing the weighting of the work that you do as well as looking at different assessment types, incorporating digital forms of assessment and assessments not being based on essays only. We are looking at how we can create an assessment system that students like and we believe is worthwhile. There is also calls for having assessments that will be able to test and perfect real-world skills used in any workplace.
KCLSU is also actively looking at the 40% caps that are enforced on coursework is over the deadline. This is due to a KCLSU supported campaign introduced by a student where we will look at a fairer method that other Russell Group Institutions use, where there is a depreciating cap over a timescale.
I’ve also been working with KCL Timetabling to issue a rule where students can have no more than three exams per week to reduce the stress on students. We are pleased to say that there will be only 1% of students who have four or more exams per week this May period, and we look to continue to see how we can reduce that to zero students. I have also successfully discussed with KCL Timetabling the release of the August exam timetable one week earlier than usual.
Mental Health: Alongside Robert (VP Welfare and Community), we have attended KCL’s Student Mental Health strategy meetings. We have had discussions on each counselling session and whether students get the best use of that time as well as looking at how there can be culturally competent counsellors, which is still a significant concern for students. KCLSU has a new campaign called My Mind Matters, which looks to advocate for students who feel underrepresented and have mental health illnesses.
I’ve been supporting a Wellbeing project developed by a student on tackling loneliness, called OurSharedHealth, seeing where I can support the students and their team. I’ve also looked at how we can extend counselling times on Guy’s campus for students who would like an appointment but are limited to when they can go due to attending clinics.
KCLSU Representation: Jessica (VP Postgraduate) and I have been sitting in on meetings with other KCLSU and IoPPN staff discussing KCLSU space at Denmark Hill, focusing on the final finishes in the plan for the space. We hope they launch the area in August 2019 for students to use.
I’ve also had various discussions with individuals across the college about SU space at St. Thomas’ Campus, where we have an agreement of space given to KCLSU for students to use on that campus. We should have a finalisation of how much space we can have for KCLSU by the end of the academic year, and that space will be tailored to what the students on that campus want it to be.
Our new spaces at Bush House have been a success. Many students would like more of the space to be replicated in other areas of the University. We are also happy to announce success in our Union Shop at Guy’s that opened up earlier this year.
Digital Transformation: I’ve taken over the work done by my predecessor Yousef and have formed the Digital and Communications Committee at KCLSU.
The website is in development, and we are hoping to launch it as soon as it’s ready. We are focusing on ensuring it looks great, that it’s simple and easy to navigate and has the relevant information for students. From there, we are hoping to move digital transformation forward by creating and developing one app that will have functions that will improve student engagement with the SU. This will continue to drive student engagement and has been something students have been longing for!
As part of digital transformation, we are also setting up digital kiosks around KCL. We are looking to pilot this across different campuses for a specific time frame, and we are hoping to do this next academic year. In terms of the functions, we have discussed it with students to ensure they would benefit from having these kiosks.
KCLSU Research Bureau: Working alongside Ahad (President of KCLSU), I am operationalising the KCLSU Research Bureau. The Research Bureau is focused on assisting the KCLSU Sabbatical Officers with the manifesto pledges. It also has scope to enable campaigns supported by KCLSU to be able to gather data if the campaign needs more specific data.
With the introduction of the Bureau, we hope to increase overall engagement with students, have a more efficient method of hearing the general issues of students and perceptions of KCL and KCLSU. The Bureau will also be able to assist future KCLSU Sabbatical Officers with their manifesto pledges or KCLSU initiatives to acquire data.
We aim to have tablets that will enable students to answer questions that will allow KCLSU Student Officers to gain an insight into how students may feel and acquire data on specific student issues related to the campaigns and initiatives the sabbatical team runs. This also may be part of the KCLSU Digital Transformation Project.
Academic Representation: I have been working alongside Mohamed (VP Education Arts and Sciences) and Jessica (VP Postgraduates) to see how we can create a more impactful academic representation system. We have been brainstorming ideas on what academic representation is, the role of Academic Associations and how KCLSU can support reps on every level and creating events and platforms to allow for more collaboration between reps from different departments and faculties.
Having had conversations with academic associations, there have been issues regarding funding from KCLSU, to which I have plans on creating a separate funding stream for these associations. In the latter half of the semester, Shaurya (VP Activities and Development) and I will see if this can be implemented. The plan is to ensure that the five academic associations will acquire funding.
Careers, Opportunities and Widening Participation: I have discussed with KCL Careers department having another job fair in the second semester of the term for students, particularly first-year students who may have an interest in getting a part-time job. Also looking to see if part-time jobs can be closer to KCL associated accommodation to ensure there is less travel time.
Plans look to see if there can be any support for students from widening participation applying for internships and careers after university. We will also look to see how King’s Health Partners (KHP) can support health students in giving research and job opportunities throughout their degree and post-graduation.
KCLSU has also taken a greater interest in widening participation and first-generation students (first in the family to go to university). We have been having discussions with the university on how best to help students from these backgrounds cope with the transition to university and how they can thrive. We find that the university does good work on bringing them into King’s; however, once they are a student, they generally have to fend for themselves.