As we start a new academic year, it’s always good to reflect back on the last 12 months and consider some of the highs and lows for the Union and what this means for the year ahead.
We’re hoping that history will view the last 12 months as pivotal for the SU. Student-led societies and sports clubs have always been an integral part of the SU, and this year we have more dedicated support to these groups than ever before, both in terms of direct staff support and cold hard cash! We had more students involved in more clubs and societies than at any other time, and societies had their first ever Societies Ball, replicating the success of the AU Ball.
We finally created a Student Voice department to give some much needed support to the 100s of course reps whose role it is to give students a genuine voice regarding their academic matters and support the Union’s democratic functions. We succeeded! More policy passed at Union Council, an amazing Academic Awards event and our most successful election ever in terms of candidates and voter turnout.
Arguably our biggest achievement took place at the start of the year when the Advice and Representation Centre was recognised, via the University’s own internal satisfaction survey, as the best service on campus by the students who use and engage with it. This was a great achievement for the officers and staff team.
We also invested in our Marketing and Communications over the year, improving the overall look and feel for the Union. This was kick-started with a rebrand at the start of the year, with momentum being maintained by a steady stream of great quality videos and other digital media.
A key part of our role is to represent your academic interests and make life better for you. We had some big wins this year including free dissertation printing and binding for all final year students and an increase in printer credits to £10 for all students.
A key part of our role is to represent your academic interests and make your educational journey better for you here at Aston. This year we had some big wins, including dictionaries provided to all students during exams, free dissertation printing and binding for all final year students, £10 printing credit for all students and introducing generic exam feedback for everyone to help them learn from mistakes and achieve higher marks!
As with any organisation, some things do not go to plan. During the year we lost around £70,000. The bar and our entertainments programme again failed to meet financial expectations, and this represented the fourth year the Union has had to use its financial reserves. Finances were also high on the graduation ball agenda and, in order for the event to break even tickets prices were increased, which caused a bit of a stir. This undoubtedly reduced ticket sales which was a shame, as the 600+ who went to the event at the ICC had an amazing night.
However, in terms of our finances, the year ended on a positive note with agreement from the university to increase our Block Grant (the core funding they give us) by an additional £100,000. This takes the total to £924,000 – a sizeable increase from two years earlier when it was only £612,000. This means its business as usual for the coming 12 months from the Union, building on the success and good practice created over the last year.
And finally…whilst all this was happening, a new building was being built on the other side of campus - this is the new SU and we get to move in soon…
We did a whole lot more than what is included in the above – if you want to know and read more, please follow the link below to the University Council report from June 2018.
Aston Students’ Union Council Report June 2018