Thursday, 7 January 2016

New Year, New Steering Group Meeting

We had our the first meeting this year of our PIU steering group yesterday. Although a number of people were unable to attend, it was a very useful meeting, chaired by our new Deputy VC Shearer West.
First item on the agenda was an overview, by our Head of Student Recruitment Christina Edgar, on a recent process improvement project to improve the production of the University prospectus. She gave a glowing report of the project’s outcomes, while commenting on the ‘light touch’ from PIU. We try very hard to make sure that the project team ‘owns’ the improvements that come out of our projects, and that they feel that they have done the hard work. At the same time, we’d like people to recognise the skills we bring to our projects!

Rachel then gave the group an overview of an initiative at Leicester to encourage student engagement, not so much as an example of good practice, but to stimulate discussion in the group about how we might do better here. We often bemoan the lack of interest from students in processes that affect them - but we recognize that this is not their on their radar, even when things go badly wrong. The suggestion that the students’ union could be be more closely involved in our efforts is useful - it seems that responses to surveys, for example, are far higher when sent from SUSU than from the ‘University’. We’ll be looking to action this soon, perhaps with the aim of getting some students to record their interactions with the University in some form of diary as they happen, rather than (too long) after the event.

We talked about the terms of reference for the group, and whether we were meeting them. Our Deputy VC was keen to ensure that the group was doing what it set out to do, and we had an interesting discussion about the best way to ‘promote a culture of continuous improvement’ in the University. Integration into the University planning round was suggested as a way forward, and we’re very hopeful that this will happen, particularly as process efficiency and effectiveness is now part of the University's strategic plan.

We also talked about membership of the group, and it was suggested that greater involvement from HoDs and Directors of Learning and Teaching, and Research and Innovation, would be useful, as these groups are at the sharp end of process problems.

All in all, a short, focussed and positive meeting. We start the new year energised and hopeful as a result.

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