Every year, the Union has to bid to the University during the financial planning round, to continue receiving our annual grant, which was around £1.8million this year. This is also an opportunity for us to highlight areas of need and to bid to the University for further funding that will aid us in improving the experience of as many students at Warwick as possible.
This is not a small piece of work, and took a huge chunk of my April and May out of my diary as I prepared a report that rivalled your average dissertation! We (myself, the chief executive and our finance manager) presented our bid to the University Financial Planning Sub-Committee at the end of May and faced a fairly thorough grilling of its contents!
So, what did we ask for?
This year, our bid was formed by the existing recurrent grant, including an inflationary factor, and an additional bid for recurrent grant for two separate chunks of money.
The first is the more boring one – the Union banks with Natwest, and since they have now left campus we are facing an increased bill for our cash handling, as now have to use the third party company G4S to collect and drop off cash (and especially coins) throughout the year. The total anticipated cost of this over a year is about £14,000, and the University kindly agreed to help us with this amount.
The second part of the bid was for a more exciting project – our membership services review. Our membership services are those such as our student activities (clubs and societies staff), our advice and welfare centre and our representation and democracy coordination. Throughout this year a small group of officers and staff have engaged in a thorough review of what we offer, and how we offer it, and been up and down the country looking at best practice elsewhere.
Included in our bid to the University was a recurrent amount of £69,000 to allow us to enact some of the staff recommendations which have come out of this review. Ultimately, the University have kindly agreed to support us here, for the most part, and as a result we will see a recurrent increase to our grant of £51,000, which, while not everything we asked for, we are incredibly grateful for, and hopeful that we can achieve some quality outcomes for students as a result of.
Principally, this money allows us to re-structure our advice centre, and recruit three new members of staff: A Student Development Manager, Campaigns and Policy Support Co-ordinator, and another Societies Co-ordinator.
What does this mean for you?
Well, that depends who you are!
A club or society exec member: You’ll know how busy (too busy!) G and Pam are at the moment, so the recruitment of these new posts will mean you will see a BIG difference in the level of support you receive next year! Expect to see new and improved exec training, extra support and strategy and development advice for your society or club, and more expertise when it comes to helping you put on your activities and events!
A campaigner, charity fundraiser, etc: You’ll probably know that this is an area where the Union has not been particularly strong in the past, and that’s something we really want to change. We’re hoping to get someone who can engage with and help student groups on campus, whatever their cause, and develop their skills where they need them most.
Anyone else who is involved in the Union as a volunteer in anyway (Union councillor, SSLC rep, etc): Hopefully you’ll receive more and better training, briefings, and feel better supported throughout the year.
Any other student: While you may not directly benefit from some of these new posts, the ‘behind the scenes’ service you experience will be improved, meaning that exec members whose activities you engage with are being better supported, and the structures that exist to represent you are better informed and more effective, through more staff support and stronger organisational expertise on key areas of campaigning and higher education policy.
A recent graduate: While you may not be in a position to benefit from the services which will be being improved, you might be able to help us deliver them…! Two of the new roles – the Societies Coordinator and Campaigns and Policy Support Coordinator – could be perfect for a recent graduate who is wondering what to do next, loved their time at Warwick, and is keen to work in a role which will be demanding, but rewarding and fun! We’re especially looking for people who have had extensive experience in student activities (clubs, societies or campaigning) and in the case of the latter role, an interest and knowledge in the workings of the higher education sector. (Applications close early next week and can be found here: www.warwicksu.com/jobs)
As ever, if you’ve got any questions or suggestions, then fire away!