Annual Members Review

The Sabbs answer your questions

The Sabbatical Officers answered the questions you asked during the Annual Members Review (AMR).

Sabbatical Officers are elected each year by students based on their manifesto, though they also work on student-led campaigns throughout the year. 

During the Annual Members Review (AMR) you spoke to the Sabbs and asked questions about their work so far, alongside having your say on what The Union does. 

Find out what the Sabbs had to say:

Can we dedicate more silent areas in the library as space is limited (lack of security in silent areas)?

With regards to security, there is a number that is provided which you can use to alert when the noise in the library escalates (07860 756894) or there is some disruption caused. The silent study area in the library has also added 40 new seats recently added.

Maybe you could tell us how full the library is so we don’t walk here and then there’s nowhere to sit?

This may be something you can feedback to the library's feedback system for this to be implemented. Alternatively, you can propose this to the Student Unions’ Have Your Say platform and passed to UAB (Union Actioning Body) where elected representatives are able to pass through the motion and it could be championed to one of the Sabbs. 

What are you doing to get more space for students at the library?

As the Library is an old building, and built in a certain way where you cannot build up, the university is reinvesting in space elsewhere. Places such as third space, waterhole space and other university buildings which are closing later.

What are you doing about Apps Anywhere, specifically SPSS not working on all students laptop?

Apps Anywhere is a university run service, so if there are any issues with one of the student laptops, try visiting one of the IT Service help desks for advice. This could also be submitted through the Union's Have Your Say platform too and passed to UAB (Union Actioning Body) where elected representatives are able to pass through the motion and could be championed by one of the Sabbs. 

American studies- major disappointment with lack of consideration or consultation with students from higher ups. Semester abroad moved to 2nd year, modules not running with excuse of not enough people interested but only 12 people on course so not fair on us, meaning that some of us have to take units we don’t want to do.

As this is very specific to your course I would suggest discussion it with your course rep, who can then flag this with your course leader. To contact your course rep head to the Union's StART tool, where you can feedback issues and points about your course.

Hey, you mentioned that there will be a feedback plan where students should be able to write feedback to their teachers. Will this be possible from this year?

There are developments being made in how we see feedback at university, with the Turnitin being currently reviewed through the new EdWord system. This has been piloted in some courses in teaching block two. 

In regard to improving the feedback plan, do you think the new plan will improve candidates grading in relation to taking in better comments than just ‘okay’ and ‘good'?

The way that EdWord runs, it varies the amount of feedback you get and the amount of feedback you can give with regards to your work. You are able to rate your lecturers comments, which naturally discourages the use of one worded feedback like okay and good.

Can exam timetables be released any earlier?

This is an issue that can be raised with your course leader. Alternatively contact your course rep using the Union's StART tool, who can raise this with your course leader and other university staff. 

If I wanted to get time off to be able to join a sports club even though I have lectures that day how would I do this?

There is a policy in place that allows students to miss Wednesday lectures. Please contact your lecturer and try to rearrange your timetable so you can play on a Wednesday.

Are the sports societies going to do more sober socials?

All societies should offer sober fun already, sadly sober socials aren’t as well attended but I will be sure to remind the clubs to do more of them.

What opportunities are there for cross sport competition?

Some opportunities - charity games, campus sport and Sport & Rec. Keep an eye on www.upsu.net & https://www.sportportsmouth.co.uk/news-events-and-blogs/events/ for event info.

I have tried to know more and sports in the uni, I feel like the uni should do more of adv for sports so it would be easier for new students to engage in the sports.

There is loads of stuff online, check the Union, Sport and Recreation website and follow @portsmouthsu across social media for more. Or if there is one particular sport you are into search for their personal social media online!

Hi Gez, what’s your favourite sport?

I love all sport and just enjoy keeping active and competing. My favourite sport is snowboarding though if I had to choose one!

What is the union about? What can it do for me?

What is the student union about and what can it do for me as an individual?

What do you actually do?

What activities are on at the union?

The Union exists to represent students’ rights, wants and needs and is independent from the University. One of the ways it does this is through offering academic advice at the Advice Service. There are also 5 sabbatical officers at the Union who are elected by students and work full-time to deliver a number of campaigns and projects that students want or need. These often address challenges that many students face such as mental health, housing, attainment gaps, extra-curricular development opportunities and the enhancement of University facilities. However, one of the most important things sabbatical officers do is represent student views at University meetings to make sure that decisions are being made in the best interests of students. The Union also puts on events throughout the year like Freshers Fayre, Winter Welcome Week and Gradball for students to network, learn, socialise and get the most out of their University experience.

When are we getting the waterhole back?

Can you bring the/a bar?

Why did you close our bar?

The University closed the bar as it lost a significant amount of money last year. The Union had no say in this matter as it was university owned. The University are currently planning how to redevelop the space and significantly improve it, with Union and student input. However they are being very slow to assign budgets, hopefully this will be done ASAP. 

What are doing to make sure that people are safe after a night out?

I’m working with the university, police and local council to discuss what students are most concerned about and what we can do to tackle it. Last term there was an increased perception of crime in Portsmouth which worried many students, however I interviewed our university police liaison who assured that there had no increases of actual crime in the area. If students have any concerns or need to report crime, they can contact David Fairbrother themselves at david.fairbrother@port.ac.uk or report it on the Hampshire Constabulary Website.

Hayley will also be joining the Portsmouth South MP for a walk around Guildhall Walk to see where the concerns are for student safety and how we can work together to provide more and better support and safeguarding for students on nights out.

What are you gonna do to make student housing safer?
How is the university increasing safety for students living in Portsmouth?

Hayley and Helena (President) will be launching the “Rate Your Landlord” website for students to review their student housing, which will include the option to rate the safety of your house. The website will have links with UoP Student Housing, so any safety concerns can be reported to them for them to investigate as they have direct contact with some student landlords.

Would we be able to get microwaves for student use at any point?

A microwave is currently being placed in the library hub area, to be monitored by staff. This allows for health and safety regulations to be adhered to, and still acting on what the students want.

I think it would be good for the library meals to be cheaper

Helena (President) have increased the food options in the campus cafe meal deals, including the library, so students who are vegetarian and vegan no longer pay more for their food. Furthermore, you can get discounts for bringing your own reusable cup for hot drinks. Helena is continuing to liaise with the campus cafes to decrease the prices that students currently pay.

What can you do to reduce the plastic in the library canteen? 

The university cafes are in the process of reducing their plastic waste. So far they have eliminated plastic cutlery and plastic straws, and replaced both with bamboo alternatives which is excellent news! However there is always more to do and we are working together to reduce plastic waste and working with other universities like Winchester to do so.

Can you introduce university bus service on weekends?

Bus service- maybe get passes for commercial services annually; no matter of age?

The University bus is an issue that comes up every year. After lots of consultation, it is clear that many students want different things out of the service. I am currently working with the University’s Estates team to look into the best way to adapt the service whilst still keeping it free to use

What are you doing to encourage integration of international students?

We work closely with Global to put events on that appeal to global students. Would be great to hear input from Erasmus/international students as to what they’d like from the Union.

More accountability about vice chancellors pay and bonuses

Ability to speak to the vice chancellor once a term to hold uni accountable

It is really important for students to be able to hold the University to account. That is part of the reason that the Union has sabbatical officers, so there is a group of 5 student representatives who can regularly challenge senior University staff on things that students might not agree with. An opportunity for all students to speak to the Vice Chancellor in a group setting once a term is something I am happy to propose.

Are there things in place to support students returning from placements who had a bad placement experience?

Yes there is! The Union Advice Service supports students who require support with their courses and placement year. They are a confidential and impartial service who can support students with academic appeals, complaints, or if you have difficulty getting back on track with the course once you’ve returned from your placement year. You can find out how to contact The Advice Service at upsu.net/advice.

Can union help peers to engage in startup activities along with jobs?

Not 100% sure what this means, but we have nearly 200 student groups and it’s very easy to set up your own group if none of ours meet your interests.

Why has the union not done enough about Stanhope and give us some more support or get some support fund?

I have tried to invest a lot of time this year addressing some of the many issues that have come with the delay of Stanhope House. I have held several student meetings, been in consistent communications with many students, have continuously raised student concerns to Prime Student Living and have been in regular contact with the NUS for advice. Unfortunately, the issue of late developments by private developers is a sector wide issue and there are currently minimal regulations in place which hold private developers to account. As the Students’ Union is a charity, it does not have the resources to fund students for legal advice. If students are having financial issues, there are support services available such as the University’s student finance centre in the Nuffield Centre.

Overall why is there a lack of events hosted by the union compared to other unis there is a lack of community?

Whilst events are an important part of what the Union does for students, there are many other things that it does for students. However, this year we have held several events such as ‘UPSU Presents: Akala’, the ‘African cultural evening’ for Black History Month, the ‘Do 1 Thing’ event which promoted ways you can live more sustainably, Freshers’ Fayre and Housing Fair. We also have a number of exciting events coming up for the rest of this academic year, so be sure to check these out at upsu.net/whatson or on our Facebook page facebook.com/portsmouthsu/ . Follow the Union across social media @portsmouthsu to keep up to date with everything. 

Can we have more water fountains + have them signposted?

I am currently working with the University Estates team to secure funding to install more water fountains around campus. Meanwhile, there is now a water fountain map available on the UoP website which can be found here.

If your question didn't get answered please email sabbs@upsu.net with your question. 

If you're passionate about any of the issues that were raised through the Annual Members Review, or the student experience in general, and want to help be the person that pushes through change, why not nominate yourself to become an Elected Officer next year? 


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