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Opportunity knocks for student support staff

06 Dec 2022

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion group develops skills in the Directorate for the Student Experience – working with colleagues and our students in a whole new way

Left to right John Walker, Fiona Day, Jodie Thompson, Ryan Miller

The Equality and Diversity Group from the Directorate for the Student Experience (DSE) has developed a new scheme to support staff development.

The scheme has seen seven members of Grade 1 Domestic and Facilities staff from the Division of Residential and Sports Service take on different work placements in the Division of Student and Academic Services, with the aim of enhancing their administration skills and gaining a broader understanding of some of the University’s systems and processes.

Four members of the group supported Start of Year activities including student registration and card issue.

Anne Marie Lawrence, who took part, said: “I loved it and cannot wait to have opportunities to do different things like this again.”

Anne Marie had no practical experience of IT and thanks to the team looking after student card issue, has come away with newfound confidence. She also loved having the opportunity to interact with students in a different setting.

John Walker, Jodie Thompson and Ryan Miller have spent three months working in the student services centre, issuing student cards and helping with student finance queries. They have also dealt with the processing of documentation and answering queries on a variety of subjects.

When asked what made them apply to the scheme, the group cited acquiring new skills, challenging themselves and learning about another area.

IT does not currently play a large part in any of their permanent roles; however, since joining the Division of Student and Academic Services they have learned how to use a variety of systems including Campus Solutions, Oracle Financials and CRM Dynamics.

They have also gained a huge amount of knowledge about other aspects of a student’s journey at the University, away from Residences.

Go for it - give it a try!

Fiona Day, Head of Facilities Management, who along with other EDI group members created the scheme, said: “This opportunity has helped the participants to develop their personal confidence, and given them an appetite to progress further, knowing that they can build on the administrative skills foundation they have set.

“They all had super positive attitudes entering the process and saw the scheme as a way to break out of their comfort zone. Of course, they already had valuable and transferable skills from working with students to offer, such as organisation, time management, resourcefulness, communication, and customer care skills.”

Division of Student and Academic Services team members, who supported the participants, have also been essential to the scheme’s success. They could see the benefit of training staff who can support business activities during critical periods and have truly integrated the Residences staff into their team.

Richard Quayle, Head of Student Admissions and Administration, commented: “It’s been great that we’ve been able to host these colleagues and support them in developing their skills. They’ve played a key part in our start of year activities and have brought their enthusiasm, and commitment to providing the best possible student experience, to everything they’ve done.”

Another participant, Jodie Thompson remarked: “The team in the Student Services Centre have great patience and have been really supportive in answering lots of our questions and sharing their knowledge.”

When asked what they would say to anyone thinking about applying for a work placement opportunity, the group were unanimous: “Go for it and give it a try!”

The DSE is hoping to build on the scheme and continue to broaden opportunities within the Directorate for staff to develop their skills.