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Student voice | What's happening in Higher Education

This report from our Student Voice team covers the months of January and February.

Freedom of Information requests

The University received two Freedom of Information Requests of student interest (regarding wellbeing and retention of EU academic staff)

The primary outcomes were that:

  • The University spent a total of £1,186 489.99 on staff and student wellbeing services during the 2018/19 academic year (this includes the Student Life Centre & Student Support Unit)
  • During the 2019/20 academic year, the University employed 42 new EU academic staff, while 44 EU academic staff left the University during the same period
  •  As of 1/09/2020 there were 331 EU academic staff working at the University.

Monthly data from our Support and Advocacy team 

  • The most common case type for Jan/Feb was ‘Academic Conduct’ (25.4%)
  • Followed by ‘Academic Appeals’ (18.6%)
  • And thirdly ‘Housing’ (16.9%).

Annual Report on Undergraduate Degree Outcomes at Sussex (2018/19)

The report demonstrates significant disparities between the achievement of UK, EU and International Students, as well as between white and BAME students. These disparities appear to widen when domicile is factored in, with a higher percentage of domiciled BAME students achieving good degrees (76.4%) than non-domiciled BAME students (32.7%).
The BAME Working Group will analyse this data and take appropriate action. 

Students' Union Elections

Nominations are now closed. Candidates will be announced online on Tuesday 17 March. There are six new full-time Officer roles open for the Spring 2020 elections, voting for which will be open from 9am on Monday, 23 March 2020 - 5pm on Friday, 27 March 2020. 

Climate Emergency

In the past year, many UK universities have declared a climate emergency. While this is significant, many climate justice related goals clash with the strategic objectives of most universities, which risks any progressive climate policy collapsing. The University of Exeter has published a White Paper to make a set of recommendations to VCEG about what the University declaring a climate emergency should mean. The paper is the product of a collaboration between over 200 staff and students. They recommend a range of specific targets, which require significant change within every aspect of University business, primarily addressing infrastructure and strategy.
Find the full report here

Reporting harassment and sexual misconduct

The Office for Students has published a proposed set of expectations on how universities and colleges in England should deal with harassment reports and sexual misconduct. The OfS is inviting feedback from students, providers and representative bodies to help shape and develop it.
Find the full report here

Equal access for disabled students 

UCL’s Disabled Students Network (DSN) released a report based on the testimonies of disabled students and their experiences with being denied equal access. Their testimonies show that the sector is failing to effectively inform disabled students of their rights, often leaving individuals without access to relevant reasonable adjustments. Even when the support is offered there are various barriers to access (an example being a two month delay in receiving support or the student having to “chase after” support by email). Poor adherence to the 2010 Equality Act has caused the Higher Education Commission to hold an inquiry, the results of which will be released in May 2020. In their report the DSN outlined a number of practices that could be implemented to address these barriers, including annual reviews of universities’ disability approaches and the establishment of centralised bodies of upper management that hold the ultimate responsibility for building accessibility within each institution. 
Find the full report here. 

UCU strike action

In late 2019, UCU leaders from 60 institutions took part in strike action for eight days. Seventy four UK universities, including Sussex, will experience 14 days of strike action in February and March 2020. The full strike dates are as follows: 

  • Week one - Thursday 20 & Friday 21 February
  • Week two - Monday 24, Tuesday 25 & Wednesday 26 February
  • Week three - Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 & Thursday 5 March
  • Week four - Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 March.

Find more information on the strikes.


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