The student union

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Student union represents all students of University of Wales, Newport. This is because a student automatically becomes the member of student union when he or she joins the University. The union provides sports teams, societies, media outlets and entertainment. Student union also helps the students finding difficulty in coping up with the University.

(http://www3.newport.ac.uk/displayPage.aspx?object_id=252&type=PAG)

Student union is run by a team of sabbatical officers which consist of students who take extra year or out to develop the union. Apart from this sabbatical team are full-time and part-time staff employed and also part-time officers, team captains, society presidents and student managers who all work alongside their studies to assist the Union. The Union is also affiliated to the National Union of Students (NUS).

(http://www3.newport.ac.uk/displayPage.aspx?object_id=252&type=PAG)

Organisation chart of student union is shown above. Present student union structure consists of a president and four vice presidents. Union president is Tom Bond. Followed by four vice-presidents for media committee, entertainment committee, student's council and sports committee.

The Process and Flow:

When a student becomes the part of the University or joins the campus, he or she gets automatically turned into a part of student union. New students receive the welcome kit about the university and the union. Students then start the campus life.

Student union then organises fresher's night which involves various activities, charities and events for which students can take part. The next stage for a student is that he or she could join in the elections for student representatives which for the welfare of all students in the campus.

At the end student passes out and is no more the part of student union. The process and flow is shown below.

2.0 PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION

There were many problems identified while investigating. Due the age and generation gap between students and the staffs of the university, many events are not scheduled. Budget for the student union is also not satisfactory which is also one of the reasons for not having venue to conduct events.

Student union is currently using classroom as the venue for conducting events. This results in lot of work because they need to clean the room soon after the event for the next day lectures. Currently there is no permanent venue allotted for the union, however union has said during the interview that talks are going on with the university to set up venue at Newport city centre.

One of the other reasons for having venue at Newport city centre is to attract more students from Allt-yr-yn ,Caerleon and Newport area. There are not many sponsors for the union at present. As a result they need to spend more on organising events with limited budget.

Union has to take in more manpower to do work. More part time cleaners and securities are required apart from staffs.

Due to all these causes the main effect is no proper venue for organising events. So, events run with fewer crowds with less popularity.

A fishbone diagram or the cause and effect model of the student union is shown below.

3.0 OPERATIONAL PROCESS

Out of many models and theories from operational management, there can be three best models suitable for student union in university of Wales, Newport.

Fit For Purpose:

As discussed during the activity held by Dr.Louise Hung, fit for purpose actually means whether the process or the product fits for all customers. E.g. Shilpa Shetty goes to Tony and Guy for glamour and status reasons while elderly Margaret is very old and for her glamour is not that important but what is important for her is the service and comfort. Hence we could say Tony and Guy fit for the purpose of both the customers.

"Products and services are designed with intentional differences in quality to meet the different wants and needs of individual consumers" (Russell, R, S and Taylor, B, W.2000.p.79).

In the same way, student union is also found to be fit for purpose. Here customers are students and there are different activities for different students organised by student union.

Like for example there is sports union for students who like sports, students who like the drinks have the bars, there are parties organised for students, there are student mentors for students who feel difficulty in coping up with the university.

Pareto Analysis on Student Union:

Pareto analysis was named after Vilfredo Pareto, which is based on Juran's finding that most quality problems and costs result from only few causes.( Russell, R, S and Taylor, B, W.2000.p.112)

Pareto analysis is based on the rule that says twenty percent of the causes give eighty percent effect. (Hanna,D,M and Newman,W,R.2001.p.527)

So, it can be interpreted that eighty percent of the problems come from twenty percent of the bad efforts.

In the case of student union, there are seven major problems found like age and generation gap between students and staff, classroom as the current venue for holding functions, budget problem, venue to be cleaned next day, less sponsors, fixed budgets and cleaners and security staffs needed.

These causes led to a major problem which is no place for events. Out of these seven problems listed, there will be twenty percent of the problems which led to the major problem. So, there will almost be any two problems which made up the twenty percent of the major problem. So it may be because of fixed budget, less sponsors or may be age and generation gap between staffs and students which created a problem having no place for venue.

Student union can take care of these issues first and give priorities.

Lean Approach on Student Union:

"Lean is not a theory, but a system that targets one or more organizational processes for improvement, specifically selected based on key principles and using key tools."

This includes continuous improvement and innovation that leads to value creation and the elimination of waste.

Value stream mapping is one of the tools. Schools are better option for this approach. In fact, it is relatively easy to produce a lean process improvement system benchmarked for schools. "This analysis solicits the views of key stakeholders students, teachers, parents, policy makers, administrators and board members in regard to what is of value. A student's instructional day is then mapped out, looking at allocations of time and resources for various activities. Based on the views of the stakeholders, decisions would be made as to what is of value during that instructional day and what is not. What is of value is kept and what is not is either improved so that it becomes valuable, or it is eliminated."( Shannon Flumerfelt, EDUCATION REPORT, http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/article.aspx?id=9674)

This approach can also be introduced in student union. Here the stakeholders will be students, board of directors, policy maker, and mentors. Union can allocate time and resources for various activities they would like to have. Based on these activities, board members can have a meeting to analyse the value during that activity and their profit. Whichever activity is of value is kept and what is not is either improved or eliminated.

Total Quality Management (TQM):

"To make sure that products and services have the quality they have been designed for, a commitment to quality throughout the organisation is required. This approach to the management of quality throughout the entire organisation has evolved into what is referred to as total quality management or TQM" (Russell, R, S and Taylor, B, W.2000.p.84)

Total Quality Principles says:

  1. "Commitment to the customer's total satisfaction
  2. Commitment to understanding and improving the organisation's processes.
  3. Commitment to employee involvement.
  4. Commitment to data-based decision making."( Hanna,D,M and Newman,W,R.2001.p.178)

Here customers are the students. So, student union has to do all the things which could bring satisfaction to students. To meet this, union can organize events of student's interest and provide good service for all categories of student.

Quality of service should be the same for entire day. Union can even take feedback from students about the events.

Student union has to understand in improving every time the process which they have currently. Union can bring good changes in the process of student joining the union and till he or she leaves. Student union now has four vice presidents. This could bring down to two. Union is not very big organisation as if now, so one president and two vice presidents could do the job. Also there will be less chances of ego.

Student union has to give clear directions to all its staffs for total involvement in the job.

Student union can make decisions based on statistics and data. Since this helps to know what has gone bad or what will go bad if not taken care. For eg. Student union has actually stopped spending money on speakers when they knew there is little number of people and shows union gets.

Union should also need to spend more time on its awareness. Students from Allt-yr-yn, hardly know about the events and services about union.

If union gets people, demand will increase and naturally will get high budget from the university and which could give them a permanent place.

4.0 INVESTIGATION

Thorough investigation was done by conducting interviews and by supplying questionnaires to students. We found mixed reactions from the students. Main questions asked were; were they happy with the venue, were they satisfied with the items available in the shops, awareness about students union, are the events conducted in time.

Also tried to investigate about the operational strategies used and found more innovation methods could be used.

Interviews were also done with the members of the union to discuss about the problems they face currently. Problem was mainly because of class room as venue.

5.0 ANALYSIS OF RESULTS

Results were also quiet interesting to see. For the first question the chart says they are not satisfied with the venue as fifty percent says it is fair and twenty says it is poor. Students were also not that satisfied with the goods available in the shops and bar. About the awareness student union has also failed by getting sixty percent negative answers.

But student still needs student union as eighty five percent gives positive reply. Events were also not conducted at time which the chart shows sixty percent "NO".

  1. How you rate the venue which student union organises?
  2. How satisfied are you with the items available in store and bars?
  3. How were the knowledge and awareness about the student union given to you?
  4. How you rate the importance of student union in university?
  5. Are the events conducted in time?

CONCLUSIONS

Certain problems were identified in the union and also certain good qualities. Problem union face is the place for events. This could be resolved if the union concentrates on the budget and sponsors as the pareto analysis said.

Total Quality management was also applied and found out certain good steps taken by student union like not spending money on speakers when they knew that the outcome was not satisfactory. Union need to spend much time on campaign and awareness.

RECOMMENDATIONS

By looking into the questionnaire certain recommendations comes out. The most important obstacle for the student union is the budget and sponsors. Union can plan to charge a small amount for the parties they organise since they get very few amount from the University.

Offers such as two plus one which says if a person buys two tickets, he or she gets the third ticket for free. Student union should try to include more stocks in shops and bars.

Student union can also plan for a financial advisor. Hence, he or she could give ideas on the flow of money.

Union can also uses some of the operational methods as discussed above like Pareto analysis, Lean thinking and Total Quality Management.

Awareness about student union to students is found to be not that satisfactory. Students from All-tryn campus are not much aware or they are not able to participate due to distance. If the union needs its resources to use in all manners, students must be invited from all regions of the college.

REFERENCES

FLUMERFELT,S. (2008). Lean thinking for schools. Available: http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/mer/article.aspx?id=9674. Last accessed 13 Dec 2009.

HANNA,M,D and NEWMAN,W,R (2001). INTEGRATED OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT Adding Value For Customers. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall,Inc. p178-527.

Interviews from student union office

NAYLOR. J, 1996, Operations management, Great Britain, Pitman publishing.

RUSSELL,S,R and TAYLOR,W,B (2000,1998,1995). Operation Management. 3rd ed. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall,Inc. p79-112.

SLACK. N, CHAMBERS. S and JOHNSTON. ROBERT, 2001, Operations Management, 3rd edn, Harlow, Essex, Pearson Education Limited.

University of Wales,Newport. (nd). Students' Union. Available: http://www3.newport.ac.uk/displayPage.aspx?object_id=252&type=PAG. Last accessed 5 Dec 2009.

WILD. R, 2002, Operations Management, 6th edn, London, Continuum.

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