Here's the latest news from AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation.
Here's the AMOSSHE quarterly bulletin for spring 2014 (click image to view - PDF 2.4 MB).
On Monday 7 April 2014 the Rt Hon David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, released a ministerial statement that represents a reduction in the available resource to support access to higher education for disabled people. AMOSSHE, the Student Services Organisation, which represents leaders in student services across UK higher education, is concerned that the proposal set out in the statement will remove funding that has been shown to make a positive difference to the attainment of disabled students in higher education.
Universities have made significant progress in main-streaming adjustments to the curriculum to improve access for disabled people. The Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) has consistently been proven to make a difference to disabled students.
This proposal will also pose a significant resource problem for higher education providers in general, and student services departments in particular. Student services departments will have to consider how these changes may affect demand for other overstretched services that they offer, such as counselling, study skills classes and mentoring.
With the recently announced cessation of the Access to Learning Fund (ALF) in England, this further change to higher education student support represents another significant reduction in the funding designed to improve access for people from backgrounds that make them less likely to participate and succeed in higher education.
It is regrettable that changes of this nature were not subject to full consultation or equality impact assessment prior to their publication. We note that details and specifics behind the ministerial statement remain unclear. Representatives of the AMOSSHE Executive Board look forward to engaging positively with officials from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills to ensure that any changes are introduced effectively.
You can read David Willetts' ministerial statement here: www.gov.uk/government/speeches/higher-education-student-support-changes-to-disabled-students-allowances-dsa.
The International Association of Student Affairs & Services (IASAS) is celebrating its chartering as a legal entity under Belgian and European Union statutes today (25 July 2013) in Brussels, Belgium.
Ben Lewis, AMOSSHE Chair, comments on today’s charter:
"AMOSSHE, the UK Student Services Organisation, is delighted to be a part of IASAS. The student experience has always been our key concern, and we’re excited that we, along with higher education Student Services leaders from across the world, now have the vehicle of IASAS through which to learn from each other. We applaud IASAS’ leadership in forging international partnerships amongst Student Services practitioners, especially the opportunities that this great organisation offers for global learning, networking and sharing good practice."
In 2013 six roles became vacant on the AMOSSHE Executive Committee for a period of two years, from 1 September 2013 to 31 August 2015. Members nominated candidates for these roles, and the new Executive Members were decided by a membership ballot.
At AMOSSHE's 2013 AGM in Liverpool, our Vice Chair, Brian Hipkin, announced the names of the Executive Members who were elected.
Nicole Redman, Head of SMART at the University of East London, continues in her role as Vice Chair (Operations) for AMOSSHE.
The four Executive Members elected by AMOSSHE member votes are:
Congratulations and welcome to all the new Executive Members.
There were no nominations for the Vice Chair (Finance) role, so members agreed at the AGM that when Gill Jack steps down, there will be no immediate replacement. Instead, a new role will be created: Vice Chair (Development), which will focus on the ongoing development of AMOSSHE as an organisation in terms of funding and sponsorship. Day-to-day finance responsibilities will devolve to the National Office Head of Development and Operations role.
When the new Executive meet for the first time in October 2013, they will nominate someone from among themselves to become Vice Chair (Development), and that role will be eligible for nomination in 2014.
For the week of 10 to 14 June 2013 five representatives of NASPA, the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession in the US, visited the UK to see some of our institutions and find out about the world of student services in the UK.
Here are the delegates taking a look at the London School of Economics (from left to right):
The delegates had a full agenda for the week. Monday started with a visit to the London School of Economics (LSE). Hard hats and high-vis jackets were the order of the day as they took a look at the works on a new student services centre.
LSE also kindly provided accommodation for the delegates all week, but on Tuesday our US colleagues took a trip out of London to see the University of Surrey. The programme for the week took in a range of different sorts of institutions, so on Wednesday, back in London, the delegates visited the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Regent's University.
The British summer started to show its face a little on Thursday for a trip out to the Royal Veterinary College, and finally on Friday AMOSSHE welcomed the delegates to our National Office to meet some of the Executive Committee and members of AMOSSHE's London and South East Region group.
The exchange highlighted many differences between the student services and higher education models in the US and UK, but also brought many more commonalities to the fore.
Thank you to everyone involved in the exchange, especially our NASPA colleagues and UK host institutions.
Find out more about NASPA.
Commenting on HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England)’s report 'Higher Education in England Impact of the 2012 reforms' AMOSSHE welcomes confirmation of the relative financial health of the sector despite the 2012 changes, but expresses concerns at the implications of the decline in part time applications for Student Services provision.
Ben Lewis, AMOSSHE Chair and Head of Student Advisory Services at Cardiff University, said:
“The huge range of services that we provide for students need to change and continue to grow to meet the demands of a changing student demographic. Our universities have to enable us to do this by providing the right level of resource to their Student Services departments. This is incredibly difficult to juggle when we are experiencing both a decline in part-time applications and increased emphasis on widening participation drivers. But, there is hope: our teams are used to delivering to changing student needs, and can do much to help with this across universities and colleges.
“Now, more than ever, there is direct economic correlation between ensuring our students expectations are met and income to higher education providers via the tuition fee. Student Services can help our institutions to deliver excellent student experiences."
AMOSSHE welcomes the affirmations in the report 'Higher Education in England Impact of the 2012 reforms' of commitments to the student experience, and will look to the more detailed work that HEFCE is planning around part-time applications with interest.
AMOSSHE members can access a brief policy briefing that considers the key messages in Higher Education in England Impact of the 2012 reforms specifically for Student Services by logging into the members’ area.
AMOSSHE, the national Student Services Organisation, is supporting five of its members to deliver short, fixed projects looking into Student Services. The teams will all report by summer 2013, and research spans a range of the services that members work across.
"I am delighted that AMOSSHE is directly supporting work in Student Services across the UK on developing what we offer and evidencing our impact. We’re enabling staff in teams who might not otherwise have been able to pursue projects to help shape the future of their field. When the panel convened to consider the funding proposals, we were so impressed with the quality and breadth of ideas that we agreed to double the amount of funding for the #amossheis20 projects. To have five new pieces of work report at our annual conference ‘Imagine…’ this summer is exciting for delegates, and we hope for many other staff in the sector across the UK."
The project funding was awarded following a competitive invitation to put forward research ideas. The projects are (listed alphabetically by higher education provider):
All of the projects’ outputs will be available in summer 2013.
The projects have been funded as part of a range of activities to mark AMOSSHE’s twentieth year. This summer will also see the issue of a commemorative publication. Follow the celebrations on twitter @amosshe_uk or using #amossheis20.
AMOSSHE marked its twentieth birthday in 2012/13 with a range of events and membership resources.
The Association of Heads of Polytechnic Student Services was established in 1976. Its constitution was rewritten in 1992, formally creating the Association of Managers of Student Services in Higher Education. This evolved into AMOSSHE, the Student Services Organisation.
AMOSSHE delivers against the propositions that:
As part of this remit, and in light of 2012/13 being our twentieth year, AMOSSHE undertook a programme of celebratory activity, inviting members to drive this work.
In early January 2013, AMOSSHE invited members to put forward ideas for small research projects in any area of Student Services. We received several high quality proposals, and were so impressed we invested reserves in funding more work than we had originally anticipated: five projects in all.
These projects are part of our commitment to a membership priority led research agenda, supporting members’ professional development, and broadening the evidence base for Student Services in the UK.
The small research projects support innovative activity or learning in Student Services that would not normally attract full funding from within the practitioner’s university. Our critiera included clear benefits to the wider AMOSSHE community to learn from the project.
As a result of the expertise, high standards and dedication of the AMOSSHE member project teams, the twentieth anniversary projects were extremely successful, and made a real impact in the sector. Because of this, AMOSSHE is dedicated to a continuing programme of funding for member-led projects. This programme of funding is called AMOSSHE Insight.
AMOSSHE is delighted to publish the case study report and supporting materials resulting from its national Students FIRST project. Students FIRST asked:
Dr. Andrew West, Chair of AMOSSHE and Director of Student Services at the University of Sheffield said:
“Students FIRST is a landmark piece of work. Prior to Students FIRST, there was little readily-available evidence to test the rationale behind targeted-spend bursary models. Equally, the learning in this project underpins a range of tools and templates to help improve the relationship between HE professionals (like Student Services staff) and commercial IT providers, to put the student at the centre of those relationships from the outset.”
Professor Sir Deian Hopkin, chair of the Students FIRST project board said:
“At a time when the cost of higher education is being increasingly borne by students themselves, it is vitally important that we keep a close eye on participation rates to ensure that no-one is deterred from achieving their potential simply because of money. We also need to speak the language of students, and supporting them via the media they use and understand best. Students FIRST provides important insight into one effective way targeted bursaries can be used to support students, and how universities can make the best use of communications technology.”
AMOSSHE thanks those involved in the project for their support in the past eighteen months. JISC provided essential funding as part of its Relationship Management in Higher Education programme strand. Anglia Ruskin University and the University of East London worked closely with the researchers and commercial partners, and John Smith’s Booksellers provided critical information about products and usage. BlackBoard Connecttxt and Modus contributed helpfully to the guidance materials produced. Finally, the researchers at Continuum, the Centre for Widening Participation showed a great deal of professionalism in analysing what seemed to be endless streams of data. Students FIRST’s outputs are truly from the sector and for the sector, and will inform future developments both in bursary provision and technology interactions in higher education.
Ben Lewis has been elected as the Chair of AMOSSHE, the Student Services Organisation and will take this post from 1 September 2012 for two years. Ben has been influential in AMOSSHE’s development for several years, including posts as Treasurer and Vice Chair. He has supported the organisation to increase its profile, with a focus on membership engagement and giving a voice to Student Services professionals.
Ben is Head of Student Advisory Services at Cardiff University. He leads a range of student support services provided at Cardiff University covering advice and guidance, financial support, international student support, disability, dyslexia and mental health support and the Chaplaincy. He was Vice Chair of AMOSSHE for the period 2010-12 and previously spent two years on the AMOSSHE Executive Board, including one year as Treasurer.
Ben Lewis, incoming Chair of AMOSSHE and Head of Student Advisory Services at Cardiff University, said:
“We face challenging times, but also times of opportunity. I am looking forward to working with colleagues to develop the way AMOSSHE can represent our members’ interests and grow new resources which can help us all in the future. I thank Andrew for his support, friendship and dedication to the organisation and it's members.”
Dr. Andrew West, the outgoing Chair of AMOSSHE and Director of Student Services at the University of Sheffield, said:
”I am delighted to be handing over the AMOSSHE leadership baton to Ben Lewis, with whom I have worked closely over the last two years in his role as AMOSSHE Vice-Chair. AMOSSHE enters the next academic year in a strong position and with exciting plans to develop our activities and services further, for the benefit of members. Ben is very well placed to take these developments forward and I send him my warmest wishes.”
Also taking on new roles in the officer’s group at AMOSSHE are: Brian Hipkin (Regent’s College London), Vice Chair; and Nicole Redman (University of East London), Vice-Chair (Operations). Sally Olohan (Nottingham Trent University) has been re-elected to the AMOSSHE Executive, and will be joined by three newly elected board members: Sam Dale (Durham University), Fay Sherrington (University of Salford), and Chris Twine (University of Birmingham).
AMOSSHE wishes all of the Executive officers and board members standing down at the end of August the best of luck with their future endeavours.
The full Executive committee for 2012/13 is:
You can also find news, features and photos on our blog
AMOSSHE members can find even more news, plus sector and policy updates