University of Surrey Annual Review : by Chris Crawford
University of Surrey Annual Review
On 30th January 2019 I attended the Annual Review of our local University. It was a pleasant, celebratory event showcasing the achievements and innovations of the previous year.
The theme this year was “A World of Collaboration” looking at the ways Surrey forges links with the local community through to global links which connect students with opportunities, research, businesses and technology.
I was especially interested in their involvement in the local community of Guildford, leading projects from community gardens to work with prisoners.
Kings College has greatly benefitted from a partnership with the University with the placing of a full time Widening Participation Coordinator at Kings College to support the school in raising their attainment and aspirations. 91% of KC students engaged with at least one WP&O activity in 2017-18. This partnership has helped KC to be rated as Good, following notice of Need to Improve. It might work for other schools also amend the department is approachable and open to ideas!
Many students work as volunteers which enriches their own education and people skills too.
Surrey Sports Park is widely used by the community with 81 public events welcoming 35,610 people. This is in addition to nearly a million visits by members, clubs and societies in an average year. They also worked with over 15,570 school children throughout 2017-18. Many staff and students make use of the web app to improve fitness.
The first 42 vets will graduate from the new Veterinary Department in July 2019! Time flies! Sadly, the University was not successful in its application to open a Medical School despite the UK’s dire need to train more doctors! They intend to persevere.
Like many of our Universities, finances are of some concern which is affecting staffing levels and tutor group sizes. They need to cut their budget by £15million. All staff have been offered voluntary redundancy and several vacancies will not be filled! Despite this the University is still very much looking forward to its future and hoping for better days to follow – as are all of us in the education sector! A 200 bedroom hotel is being built which will be run by the hospitality undergraduates and one million users are on the test bed for 5G – leading the world at present.
Finally, a word on the strength and success of the Students Union, USSU, part of the Southern Unions Network ( having broken away from the NUS). This year the President is Dr Alex Harden, who will have spent 7 years at Surrey University when he finishes his term of office. The Union has a newly established Nightline to support troubled students, a 1000 strong volunteering programme and “ Employable Me” , a new idea to help students prepare for work through businesses supporting and extra curricular activities. The Union is lively and full of enthusiasm. Let’s hope many of them promote active union involvement in their eventual places of work!
Chris Crawford, Representative for the NEU at the University of Surrey Annual Review