Union Futures Project:
With the publication of an amended National Student Survey (NSS) questionnaire for 2017, and a new question (Q26) for students’ unions, in October 2016 we launched our first Union Futures project bringing together 18 students’ unions as part of a joint research venture to inform and enable a proactive response to the new NSS question.
In a little under a month we received over 17,000 responses to the survey with each participating union promoting it locally. Whilst recognising its limitations, the sample provided us with a robust statistical basis for some detailed analysis and, when coupled with rich qualitative data, it gave us a very strong dataset from which we drew a number of observations and conclusions:
- Student representatives have the potential to make or break how the union is perceived in terms of representing academic interests.
- Dilemma of breadth versus focus – with students interpreting Q26 in different ways some may be more satisfied with a broad offer whereas others may prefer a more focused effort to support students in their academic endeavours.
- Communicating and marking small wins – Often, little is made about the work students’ unions undertake with individuals. However, these tend to be the very examples that best exemplify how the union represents students’ academic interests.
- Building relationships across the institution – For academic issues, and for many personal ones, course tutors are often the first port of call for students seeking help. Building relationships with these academics is an important step for unions.
For more detail about the project read the full summary report here.