Over the last few years, Alterline has worked with students’ unions across the country to help them better understand student experiences and drive change. The University of York Students’ Union (YUSU) has been through a period of rapid, exciting growth over the past three years. Student numbers at the institution have grown significantly, with the Union’s staff team, physical building and relationship with students advancing at pace alongside this.
Alterline were commissioned by YUSU to help develop their strategic plan, ‘Big Plan 2020’. To support this development we worked collaboratively with their team every step of the way through workshops, student surveys, focus groups, stakeholder interviews and action planning sessions. We helped the Union obtain a deep knowledge of students’ motivations, aspirations, behaviours and experiences; and translated that insight into priorities for strategic development and action.
There is no doubt in my mind that Alterline added value to our process while ensuring we still took control of it as our own personal experience and project. Firstly they were able to facilitate staff, officers and trustees in thinking about long term and big picture, setting a different way of thinking about strategic development. Secondly, in conducting research they were able to conduct a deeper, more critical analysis of stakeholder views given their independence and expertise. Thirdly, when it seemed almost impossible to build consensus, Alterline provided facilitation and support to align competing views on our priorities, the language we should use and different priorities. They helped us develop a strong and shared vision which in turn led to a compelling strategic direction with depth and ambition.
Our new strategic plan was a year in the making and was a journey for staff, officers, students and stakeholders that Alterline facilitated well. They were sensitive to our needs, willing to challenge ideas and opinions, recognised the right times to step in and when to stand back and give us our own space. They helped us engage with challenging critical feedback in a positive and constructive way rather than hide from it or allow it to hold us back.
Our new 5 year plan is something we are proud of as a result of Alterline’s support. As well ensuring our strategy is grounded in a high quality of research Alterline have helped us to think differently about our organisation, been a catalyst for us exploring new ways to implement and deliver strategy and ultimately they have given us a confidence to be consistent with our own unique values.”