Student Futures Manifesto launched between Newman University and the Students’ Union

30/05/2023 by Hasan Patel

Newman University students and staff met to discuss six core themes outlined by the UPP Foundation which will help contribute to the overall student experience.

Professor Richard Medcalf, Newman University Pro Vice-Chancellor speaking to students

Professor Richard Medcalf, Newman University Pro Vice-Chancellor speaking to students

In March 2022, Newman University in conjunction with Newman Students’ Union committed to co-producing a Student Futures Manifesto, which emphasised student support and remediated any learning, skills, or confidence gaps that had emerged over the pandemic. The project stems from our participation in a national piece of work co-ordinated by the UPP Foundation, an independent charity working with universities and other higher education bodies whose report called on universities to co-produce a manifesto which contained actions and commitments to secure successful student futures. The UPP Student Futures Commission had looked at ways in which the HE sector could work with students to recover from the pandemic, noting that despite innovations in teaching and learning the university experience during the past two years had accumulated to diminish the feeling of belonging the student experience.

Over the past year, the university has worked in partnership with students to develop a range of commitments after gathering data across the two consultations events. We have agreed a set of pledges which fit into six headline themes; support for students before they reach university, an induction into university life for each year of study, a clear outline of the teaching students will receive and the necessary tools to access it, activities inside and outside the curriculum that build skills, networks, and community, support for Mental Health and Wellbeing, and a clear pathway towards graduate outcomes.

The event brought staff and students together to interrogate the pledges developed for each theme, and to begin to co-create detailed commitments that will deliver each of the pledges over the coming years. The event was opened by Professor Jackie Dunne, Vice Chancellor of Newman University, and Professor Richard Medcalf, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students). Alice Mason, a 2nd Year Student from Counselling and Working with Children, Young People and Families, who was the student lead within the Student Staff Partnership Project, and Zoe Harrison, Newman University Student Union President, shared their experiences of being part of the project, and the excitement they felt at being part of this work. Illustrator, Jim Rogers was also present to capture discussions and created a visual representation of the meeting. Participants were moderated by John Peters, Director of Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship, Dan Tasker, Director of Student Services & Leoarna Mathias Senior Lecturer in Student Engagement to discuss the pledges and develop commitments.

Professor Richard Medcalf, Newman University Pro Vice-Chancellor, currently leading on the enhancement and improvement of the student experience, said: “Last year we committed to the co-creation of a Student Futures Manifesto which underlines our commitment to enhancing the student experience inside and outside the classroom. The pandemic disrupted the student experience on campus, but we also developed new ways of learning as well and we need to find a balance which will enhance the student experience. We are focussed on putting students first in the ways in which we design our curricula and our university, and the pledges we have made as part of this Student Manifesto project will help to bring that commitment to life over the coming years. We’re grateful to Newman Students’ Union for their support with this work and look forward to working with students to bring this work to reality”.

Find out more about the UPP Foundation and the Student Futures Commission.