[Jennie Couling | Contributing Writer]
Thursday 20th November saw students attend this semester’s second Student Ideas Forum in Hutton Hall. As the final part of the annual meeting, elected officers gave an overview of what the Students’ Union has been up to in the past year.
Gurpreet Singh (President) and Jack Amos (Vice President of Democracy and Services) gave a roundup of the Hertfordshire Students’ Union accounts from July 2013 to July 2014 showing that over 87% of the Students’ Union money was spent on services for students.
Joined by Bella Colafrancesco (Vice President of Student Activities) and Rana Omer Farooq (Vice President of Education and Welfare) the elected officers celebrated the Students’ Union successes last year including: £92 850 saved by students through their letting service, £78 533 raised by Raise And Give, a 38% increase in voter turnout, £130 742 won for students by the Advice and Support Centre, a 42% increase in the number of societies and successful lobbies for a multi faith space, better use of the Weston Auditorium and against the marking boycott.
The floor was then opened to students to voice their concerns. Here are the main topics discussed:
Unexpected rise in tuition fees: Second year law students reported that their fees had been increased without warning and the only notification they received was earlier that week. Students from Biosciences and Business also reported their fees had been increased. The issue of notification will be looked into and Colafrancesco said there will be an explanation for why the increase was needed.
Difficulty getting popular books from the library: A number of students reported problems with people repeatedly renewing core textbooks leaving others to struggle without them or being forced to pay large sums of money for their own copies. Singh reassured that the issue has been raised to the Chief Information Officer but suggested that it should be raised with each school individually. There is going to be a review of a loan system but a date for that is currently unconfirmed.
Uno bus service: Many students raised concerns about the shuttle bus service. Complaints of buses being overfilled were common, with one student reporting that one was so full a bus driver had to ask her if it was safe to pull out of a junction. Others reported drivers missing stops, driving past or never turning up. Amos explained that the reason that shuttle buses have been particularly busy this week that the normal bendy buses were replaced with smaller silver buses for graduation. He went on to say that Uno “are aware of the issues” and that he and Colafrancesco had a “productive” meeting with Uno the previous week but what they need to know is specific incidents. A reporting system on the Students’ Union website was suggested and will be looked into. Find out more from Deputy Editor Brad Johnson about the issues raised with UNO buses here.
Oval staff and post handling: Students expressed dissatisfaction with security staff at the gym not knowing about procedures such as signing guests into the gym, post being opened by staff or delays between parcels being delivered, Amazon lockers not being used correctly and students being able to collect them. Colafrancesco explained that a new company Derwent Living has been contracted for security work around campus and the “issue has actually been raised with the Campus Life group which is chaired by the Dean of Students and it’s been asked of him to find what the differences are and resolve the issues where there are differences”.
The next student ideas forum isn’t until the 27th January but before then, any concerns you have can be submitted on hertfordshire.su, tweeted with the hashtag #UHideas or by talking to one of your elected representatives.