It's a challenging but very exciting time to join UEL Students' Union. We're part-way through a journey towards being a more effective and more relevant students' union which truly represents and supports our hyper-diverse membership. After a restructuring exercise, we're hiring staff for nine new posts.
We’re being very honest so you know what we expect from staff and what you’ll be getting yourself into. We know our situation and the challenges we face aren’t for everybody and we’re ok with that. If you’re excited by everything you read here and you meet the job-specific requirements, we’d love to hear from you. If you think this sounds awful, we probably won’t be a good fit. If you’re unsure, we’re happy to talk before you apply to see if we’re on the same page.
Like many charities, working in our organisation can be challenging. We’re not particularly well-off, we don’t have enough staff to cover everything we want to do, and we don’t have enough money to support everything our student groups want to do. This means we must work very hard to do the very best we can with what we have. If we do this and can show we’re effective, this will make it easier to generate more income in future so we can expand what we do.
Our position must be considered alongside the University’s position. UEL has been through a challenging few years but it now has a new vice-chancellor and a new strategy (Vision 2028) and it’s financially stable. A key part of Vision 2028 relates to supporting students to face the challenges of Industry 4.0. The Union has an important role to play in this. Students can develop and hone their soft/transferable skills through our work in student groups, campaigning groups, volunteering and other activities.
Our programme representative system has been largely unchanged for several years. There are subject areas where it is very effective but there are other areas which need work. The University’s new academic framework commences in September 2019, meaning the planned review of the programme representative system for 2019/20 is timely. Re-building a strong student representative system means we can better represent students’ views and also support them to fully participate as partners in Vision 2028 projects like curriculum review and development.
Our advice service is praised by students and staff alike for the quality of service it provides. We advise huge numbers of students every year. However, advising ever-increasing numbers of students can’t become an end in itself. We must develop new proactive ways of working with students and the University to reduce the number of students requiring advice in the first place.
We have a relatively small number of societies compared to other students’ unions. We have several large student group and some nascent academic societies and our society committee members are generally committed to their groups. However, unhelpful processes, the lack of equipment, and lack of training and support means we’re making it more difficult, not easier, for these groups to operate and grow. Similarly, our campaign groups have withered away because we haven’t supported them over the years.
Crucially, our knowledge of our students in limited. We have run a few research exercises over the last four years, but we’ve never really got to the heart of the things that matter in our students lives, what makes them tick and what they really need from an effective students’ union. Doing this requires a rethink of why and how we collect data and how we then use it to make change in the University and our local communities.
So what’s the future? We’re going to fix all this. We’ll become a students’ union which truly understands its membership, which uses that information to make change in the University and our local communities, which supports students to do the same, which has structures and policies which support our students’ success and progression into good jobs or further study, and which builds a culture of student leadership in everything we do.
We have lots of ideas about how we might do this but, at a basic level, we know we have to do the following in 2019/20:
1. work out how we can best understand our members’ needs and wants, and then implement it;
2. simplify our policies, processes and systems to make it easier for students to do things that make a difference to their lives through groups, campaigns and projects, while maintaining necessary protections;
3. be more open about what we do to represent, support and develop students;
4. get more students involved.
Achieving those four things will revolutionise our organisation and our members' relationships with us. We know it’ll be difficult to achieve but that’s why we need to have the right staff on board to help us.
What do we want?
We’re looking for staff who are up for the challenge of working with us. There are specific requirements in each job description and person specification, but we also have some basic expectations of all staff:
1. You embrace change and a fast pace of work
2. You use appropriate evidence to inform your work
3. You’re inquisitive and willing to learn new things
4. You have a positive attitude and approach
5. You want to do something meaningful
6. You’re up for the challenge
7. You support colleagues and students to do/be the above things
We're already recruited to three new posts and now we’re recruiting for six more:
- Head of engagement
- Marketing and communications manager
- Insight manager
- Advice manager
- Policy manager
You can read more about the specifics of each role here and how to apply here.
What we offer
Alongside the salary, we offer a 35-hour week, 25 days holidays, bank holidays, a few days extra at Christmas (varies year-to-year), employer contributions to our pension scheme, an employee benefit scheme, and season ticket loans. Employees can also access more benefits through the University including an on-site gym and comprehensive training and development opportunities.