Representing all student voices
How Strath Union utilises Student Pulse for inclusive decision-making
Strathclyde University Students Union (Strath Union) is a prominent organization overseeing the needs of students at Strathclyde University. Led by Karen Rae, Head of Insight, Strath Union plays a vital role in enhancing the student experience and fostering a vibrant campus community. As the student body grew and diversified, Strath Union faced the challenge of understanding the evolving needs and preferences of their diverse student population. They realized the importance of gathering accurate and timely feedback to make informed decisions and ensure that their initiatives truly represented the students they served. To overcome this challenge, Strath Union sought a solution that would provide them with comprehensive insight into student sentiment, allowing them to tailor their services, campaigns, and support systems accordingly. Their goal was to establish a data-driven approach that would enable them to create positive change and advocate for resources that truly met the needs of all students.
Strath Union had a wide range of services catering to various aspects of student life. However, they struggled to understand the preferences and needs of their students amidst the vast array of services. Anecdotal feedback was abundant but lacked qualification by students, leaving Strath Union uncertain about whether their decisions truly aligned with the best interests of the students. Campaigns and initiatives were often based on the views of a small group of students, lacking comprehensive data. Their biggest challenge was ensuring that their actions represented the voices and needs of all students.
To try and understand what our students actually like was really tricky. There was a lot of anecdotal commentary going around, but none of it was really qualified by students. We weren't sure if the decisions we were making were truly in the best interest of the students, although we were sure that we always had students at our heart. Even campaigns that were run by students were founded in the views of a small group of students rather than data. So our biggest challenge was being sure that what we were doing was really representing all the students.
After conducting a research survey in 2022, which provided a baseline of data but was limited in scope, Strath Union recognized the need for ongoing measurement and insight into student sentiment. Their Chief Executive, Manish Joshi, discovered StudentPulse and recognized its potential to address their needs. They decided to implement StudentPulse as a platform to conduct regular check-ins with students, gather feedback, and gain a deeper understanding of their preferences and needs.
With clear guidance and support provided throughout the process, Strath Union could break down the feedback process into regular check-ins, providing them with a comprehensive understanding of student sentiment over time. The flexibility of the platform enabled them to tailor specific questions for different departments while maintaining a broader overview of student satisfaction and awareness of the union. The dashboard provided valuable insights at a glance, facilitating informed decision-making and efficient reporting. The authentic feedback gathered through Student Pulse also played a significant role in shaping Strath Union's communications and marketing strategy, enabling them to connect with students using their own language and phrases.
The implementation was so clearly laid out...Nothing was a problem. Absolutely everything was done with a cheery exchange. Always very, very willing to help. And the process really was so clear and so straightforward.
StudentPulse has had a profound impact on Strath Union's ability to understand and address student needs. They have been able to improve student representation by gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the student population's diverse opinions and experiences, allowing for fair and inclusive decision-making processes. The direct and efficient communication between the union and the student body enabled by Student Pulse has fostered a sense of community and collaboration, leading to more effective communication. Quicker resolution of student concerns and issues through Student Pulse has improved satisfaction and trust in their support services, accelerating issue resolution.
It makes you feel more in control of what you're working on, more excited about how it's going to be received because you know that you're going along the right lines. So yeah, I would just say it's that connection that you get with students that you can't really get from social media.
Furthermore, Student Pulse has played a crucial role in identifying mental health as a priority area for Strath Union. The insights gathered through the platform have enabled them to advocate for additional support services from the university and present concrete data to strengthen their position in influencing resource allocation and campus-wide campaigns. This has allowed them to allocate more resources to student support services and initiatives based on student feedback, ensuring the well-being of the student body.
This was our first year and we've gathered a lot of really important information... It has been really really helpful to see what students' actual priorities are and mental well-being came up really strongly. That's given us a really good place to say that we know that it's affecting most students...We also did a sexual health survey and the results of that will be used to launch a campus-wide campaign for sexual health assistance.
Additionally, Student Pulse has strengthened the partnership between Strathclyde University and Strath Union, empowering the union to effectively communicate student priorities to the university, advocate for necessary changes, and collaborate on initiatives that enhance student experience.
We can go to the university and say this is what's important to students, this is what is being done well, this is what isn't being done well, and then we can start to campaign for change in those areas.
The partnership with Student Pulse has not only enhanced Strath Union's ability to address student needs but has also strengthened their collaboration with the university, with the potential to increase the block grant received by Strath Union. This would allow more resources to be allocated to student support services and initiatives based on student feedback gathered through the platform.
The structure that's in place with most unions is that we get a block grant from the university so they basically give us funding to exist. Going with firm feedback could actually mean that we could increase our block grant, that we could increase the money coming into the union for students. So it's really got the power to be something really significant.
In conclusion, Karen highlights the importance of genuine insight in effective communication with students. By truly listening to students and engaging them through personalised recommendations and services, student unions can build trust and establish strong connections. She encourages other student unions to embrace the brave and daring approach of leveraging authentic insight to drive positive change and meaningful engagement with their student communities.
I would definitely recommend Student Pulse and I have recommended it...In order to communicate effectively with your audience you absolutely must have authentic insight because otherwise you're just spraying out things that you're seeing or hearing or you think might work.
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