Monday, 4 November 2019

Voice It - Why your voice matters


These days it’s almost impossible to consume a product or service without being asked for your feedback. ‘Share your thoughts…Rate us out of 5…Write us a review’, just some of the many questions you may have been asked in the past month, if not the past week! And while it can be overwhelming, have you ever really stopped to think about the importance of sharing your opinion?

Here, Rida, your Students’ Union President tells us why feedback from students is so vital to the University and how you can use your voice to make a difference at Herts.


“When I first started my time at UH as a student, I always thought that my feedback didn’t have an impact. I always used to ignore the surveys sent by the University or Students’ Union.  But that’s not the case anymore. I never miss a chance to give feedback anymore, and here’s why:

Ever since I have been elected, I have been to tonnes and tonnes of meetings, most of them aimed at improving students’ lives. I have been part of so many discussions where staff have been very interested in understanding what student challenges are and how students want them to be addressed. Most people are very keen to understand- What is happening? What has worked? What hasn’t worked?

But how does the University decide what is best for students? How do they know what students are thinking?

I was surprised to see that so much of what the University does for students comes from student feedback, whether it be from a survey they completed, mid-module feedback or simply from a focus group. As a student I always underestimated the value my opinion had in influencing the University. So what examples are there of student feedback having an impact?

Timetabling
One of the main things being worked on by the University these days is timetabling. As a sabbatical officer, I thought that the main request of our students would be for no 9am lectures, so the commuting or even non-commuting students can get more time to relax in the mornings. Surprisingly, after coming into the role, I discovered that the priority of our students seems to be more focused around reducing gaps between classes - this came out in a survey done by the Students’ Union. The University and the officer team really took on the feedback and we are all working together to make the timetables the best they can be for the majority of our students. If it wasn’t for the students telling us what they want, we would have never known.

Lockers on campus
One of the huge officer successes over previous years has been the commuters’ lockers. The idea of having this facility came from HertsEmpowerment, which is a platform for students to raise their concerns or ideas. We received some feedback highlighting that commuter students felt like they couldn’t be as involved in University activities and that having a space to keep their stuff would help them move more freely around the University and could potentially make them feel more included. Many other students shared similar thoughts on the same platform and that idea has become reality today thanks to work done between the Union and the University!

Print Credits
Last year, our VP Education lobbied the University to expand their print credits for first years to all students. She took this idea forward to the University, and the University worked hard to listen to this feedback and has incorporated it into this year’s plans.


So far, all the work I have been involved in with the University always has an element of incorporating student feedback. There are many different ways of providing feedback to either the Union or the University, via HertsEmpowerment, Student Reps, Surveys, School Community Organisers, Student Council, Mid-module feedback etc.

Having attended an away day with academic staff earlier this year, I can say one thing: all feedback from students is  considered by the University.   Without the feedback the University or the Union never fully understands what is working for students and what isn’t. I haven’t been to a meeting where student views haven’t been considered.


So in short, if students ask “why should I bother giving university the feedback??” The simplest answer to that question would be, because your feedback can bring change! 

Find out how your voice is already making a difference on Ask Herts

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