Celebrating Student Success

We really do have an outstanding Students’ Union

A nice new website publicising the University of Nottingham Students’ Union’s successes over the past year and its centenary celebrations:

For the last week of the semester, your officers decided it was time to celebrate the things we’d achieved. So, we launched our very first Celebration Week. Celebration Week is the perfect time to look back on the successes of the past year. What’s was the most memorable moment of 2013/14? What was your biggest success? What would you have done differently?Most importantly, we wanted to know how you were celebrating everything you’d been getting up to, while we held some celebrations of our own. Special events, such as the free 100 Heroes exhibition tours, Women in Leadership Tea Party and Mooch Big Brunch, were put together just for Celebration Week.Thanks to everyone for a brilliant year – and we’ll see you again at Welcome!

It’s all terrific stuff and serves to remind us of the essential role students’ unions play in the life of universities. Things have certainly moved on in the past 100 years:

Unions have moved on a little...

Unions have moved on a little…

The Varsity win was pretty good too.

So well done to all of this year’s officers and look forward to even more successes next year.

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Taking Student Mental Health Seriously

 Students Supporting Students

Have only just learned of Student Minds.

Did you know: Students, after joining university, are more anxious and more likely to develop depression? It’s no surprise, university can be a stressful and daunting environment. Estimates show that around 25% of all students experience distress at a worrying level. The move away from home is particularly stressful, inducing symptoms of anxiety. In the case of one fifth of students, reaching levels of clinical significance mid-way through second year. We found that most students are most likely to talk to their peers, primarily their friends. However, this can not always be a comfortable experience.

 Student Minds was chosen as the supported charity at this year’s Times Higher Leadership and Management Awards. The organisation believes we should take student mental health issues much more seriously:

If tackled early we have the opportunity to prevent the development of more severe mental health problems. Early adult life is a crucial stage in the transition from adolescence independence as an adult. Underachievement or failure at this stage can have long-term effects on self-esteem and the progress of an individual’s life. The opportunity to share experiences can help break down isolation and the format of a group can boost motivation, and the informality of a group session run by Student Minds volunteers – groups do not have waiting lists, and students can self-refer, using the support as and when they feel they need it. Finally, we do not keep records of attendance, removing the concern that accessing help will reflect negatively on a student’s CV or university record.

 It’s a great range of activities and clearly making a really valuable contributuon on campuses around the country. The University of Nottingham Students’ Union is also involved:

Student Minds Nottingham (formerly known as UoN Mental Wealth) is a campaigns group that works to promote positive wellbeing and mental health for students whilst studying at UoN.

Our objectives are:

– to tackle the issue of social isolation and stigma of mental health.

– to enhance the mental health provision within the university.

– to break down potential barriers to students and provide opportunities for personal development for students.

We run support groups with the help and training of Student Minds.

We also run events and workshops over the academic year to inform people about mental health conditions and break down barriers.

 

Universities do, of course, provide services to support students with mental health issues but the work of Student Minds seems to provide a valuable complement to these. This is particularly important given the challenges to public mental health services for young people.

So, a great charity and do hope it continues to grow and provide excellent support for students.

 

 

Student leaders: democracy in action

Students voting

slide2

Really excellent to see the effort which has been made to promote voting in this year’s University of Nottingham Students’ Union elections. There are good numbers of candidates for all positions and some really excellent promotion work including this splendid Students’ Union elections website.

There is also a handy stats page which not only counts down the days, hours and minutes of voting left but gives you live presentation of votes cast and percentage turnout:

Voting stats

It’s dangerously compelling. In addition, you can tell which Halls have the highest turnout (Southwell miles ahead at time of writing but do check back) and which Schools:

school votes

It’s all really great to see and terrific that the Union is seeking to get more and more students involved in its democratic processes. All of this has to be positive for the future development of the SU but also for enhancing the role it plays in the life of the University.

Keep on voting!

Freshers’ week commercialism

According to the Guardian “Freshers’ week is an education in commercialism”:

…freshers’ fairs have come a long way from the commercial innocence of earlier years. They offer Britain’s businesses “the perfect opportunity for you to enlighten students to your products and services”, according to BAM Student Marketing. “Get face to face with your potential customers … student spending habits have not been developed at this stage, which is why the freshers’ fairs provide excellent potential for forming new customer relationships,” it adds.

week one

Yes, there is more commercial activity than historically, but there really is so much more to it than this. For example, the University of Nottingham’s Students’ Union has a bit more on offer as the Freshers’ Fair site shows. Whilst there is still in many freshers’ weeks an undue emphasis on alcohol-fuelled activity, things are changing for the better although this remains the issue that newspapers generally focus on.

However, the Guardian also notes that:

Other universities run their own lucrative commercial arrangements at freshers’ fairs. Last year Oxford charged £12,000 for sponsorship and £2,000 for a standard stall at its fair, and £1,500 for a bag insert (plus £850 for your name on the bag).

This is more like “commercial innocence” – it seems to be an extremely good promotional deal for the companies concerned, offering huge exposure for very little money.