Here's the latest news from AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation.
Forging an engaging academic community, and building effective relationships with colleagues, students, and external stakeholders, are key aspects of the work of Student Services. To help Student Services leaders and practitioners engage with these communities, AMOSSHE is hosting a conference to explore how we can work with institutional colleagues and stakeholders to create effective relationships, and how we can create engaging communities for our students that enhance their learning experience and promote retention and success.
Engaging Communities, the AMOSSHE winter conference 2017, takes place on 17 February in Manchester, featuring a range of AMOSSHE member-led sessions showcasing innovative practice and strategy, as well as inspiring keynote presentations from key voices in the sector.
Our first confirmed keynote is Sara Fernandez (Executive Director, Student Hubs). Student Hubs supports students to tackle social challenges, learn about issues and connect with each other. Their work includes supporting student leaders in UK universities to learn, connect and do something to tackle social issues, through volunteering, skilled placements, project incubation and critical engagement events.
AMOSSHE member-led sessions confirmed so far include:
Find out more and book your place here: Engaging communities.
Here's the AMOSSHE quarterly bulletin for autumn 2016: a roundup of AMOSSHE news, events, and more (click image to view - PDF 4.5 MB).
This bulletin introduces AMOSSHE's newly elected Chair Ben Bailey, and Vice Chair Fay Sherrington, as well as the Executive Members who were also elected in July this year.
There’s also an overview of what AMOSSHE has planned for the 2016/17 academic year, as well as highlights of our upcoming continuing professional development events.
Today Universities UK published recommendations for higher education providers to help implement approaches to address violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting students. AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation, was part of the taskforce set up to examine these issues, and contributed a Student Services perspective to the recommendations.
AMOSSHE Chair Ben Bailey said today:
“AMOSSHE welcomes Universities UK’s recommendations, because the difficult and sensitive issues they deal with continue to be recognised and addressed across the higher education sector. Student Services are often at the front line in tackling incidents of violence, harassment and hate crime, and a joined-up approach within institutions and a collective effort by the sector as a whole is essential for creating an environment where these challenges can be tackled effectively, and eliminated as far as possible. Students feeling safe supports them to achieve their academic potential, and implementing these recommendations will help create the positive, secure educational experiences that so many students already enjoy, but all deserve.
“Having contributed to the taskforce through our representative Maria Lorenzini (Director of Student Experience, Bangor University), AMOSSHE is confident that the perspectives and concerns of Student Services are reflected in the recommendations. AMOSSHE will continue to focus on ensuring that Student Services leaders have the knowledge and confidence to apply the recommendations in their own institutional context.”
In response to the publication, AMOSSHE is hosting an event to explore the recommendations in a Student Services context. The event explores how to implement the recommendations through Student Services strategy and practice, while sharing good practice and ideas. Find out more about the event here: Tackling gender-based violence.
Here are the Universities UK recommendations: Taskforce publishes recommendations to universities on dealing with violence against women and harassment.
On 22 September 2016 HEPI (Higher Education Policy Institute) published a report called ‘The invisible problem? Improving students’ mental health’. The report highlights the growing demand for mental health services within universities, and discusses underfunding of counselling services both within universities and within the NHS. You can access the HEPI report here: Many universities need to triple their spending on mental health support: urgent call for action in new HEPI paper.
Here is AMOSSHE’s response to the report:
AMOSSHE is pleased that this report raises the profile of the issues that our members have been dealing with for a number of years. Recent member feedback carried out by AMOSSHE showed that 80% of contributors believed there was a noticeable increase in complex mental health crises amongst their student population from 2014 to 2015. It is very pleasing to see that the report recognises the challenges that students face in accessing mental health services due to the lack of continuity of care between home and university. It is important to recognise that most universities in the UK provide a range of wellbeing and mental health services that may work alongside, be integrated with, or be separate from counselling services. A ratio of students to counsellors is not necessarily a reliable way to determine the level of staffing support that is provided to students within our diverse universities. Funding is a crucial element for supporting students with mental health needs, and AMOSSHE supports the notion that universities should continue to increase funding in mental health and counselling services where appropriate, alongside other supportive wellbeing services.
AMOSSHE supports over 160 higher education providers across the country with over 600 members. Over 95% of our members have reported through our surveys that they have mental health services under their remit. Our members are primarily directors of student support services and heads of support areas such as mental health, counselling and wellbeing services. For further information please contact the AMOSSHE National Office.
You can find details of AMOSSHE's member survey about student mental health here: AMOSSHE members feed back about student mental health and suicide.
Here's the AMOSSHE quarterly bulletin for summer 2016: a roundup of AMOSSHE news, events, and more (click image to view - PDF 4.4 MB).
This bulletin contains an overview of AMOSSHE's work this year, plus summaries from our Executive team about their activity in the sector and on behalf of members. There's also a roundup of our national conference, Breaking Boundaries, and details about AMOSSHE membership and events for the academic year ahead.
In 2016 six roles became available on the AMOSSHE Executive Committee, to serve for a period of two years from 1 September 2016 to 31 August 2018.
15 AMOSSHE members nominated for these roles, and the new Chair and Executive Member roles were decided by a membership ballot. There was no competition for the available Vice Chair role, so this appointment didn't require a membership vote.
At the 2016 AMOSSHE annual general meeting in Glasgow on 6 July, Nicole Redman (Vice Chair Operations) announced the names of the people who were elected. The new committee members will take up their roles from 1 September 2016.
Find out more:
Find out more about the AMOSSHE Executive Committee.
Here are the people who join the AMOSSHE Executive Committee for the 2016-18 term of office.
Ben Bailey (Director of Student Services at the University of Birmingham) takes the role of AMOSSHE Chair.
Fay Sherrington (Director of Student Services at Edge Hill University) takes the role of AMOSSHE Vice Chair.
The nominees elected to the four Executive Member roles are:
In addition, because Ben Bailey is taking the Chair role, his Executive Member role becomes vacant for one year. So Peter Quinn (Director of Student Support, University of York) takes this place for one year.
Congratulations and welcome to all the new Executive members! Here are the nomination statements from all the new members of the Executive Committee: nomination statements.
Many thanks to Ben Lewis (Director, Student Support & Wellbeing Division, Cardiff University), Brian Hipkin, and Maria Lorenzini (Director of Student Experience, Bangor University), who leave the Executive Committee at the end of August.
Here are the nomination statements from everyone who joins the AMOSSHE Executive for the 2016-18 term of office:
Find out more about the the Executive Member roles.
Ben Bailey is Director of Student Services at the University of Birmingham. Here's Ben’s nomination statement:
I have been an institutional lead member of AMOSSHE for 13 years, and contributed to the Executive Committee for the last five years.
Recently serving AMOSSHE on the Executive, I have made my contribution in a range of areas of work. I have led on our exchange arrangements with NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education), supported the National Office with the membership survey, represented us in national forums relating to disability, Prevent and mental health with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England), Student Loans Company and Universities UK. I have also co-ordinated a continuing professional development event and am currently involved in supporting the development of a new website for the association.
My contributions continue to be motivated by my belief that AMOSSHE is a key part of supporting colleagues in Student Services. Supporting them to deliver important outcomes for students and also therefore, our institutions. Whether about national policy, professional development or sharing and advancing best practice and ideas, AMOSSHE’s work and member networks can be invaluable.
The ongoing challenge will include ensuring that:
I remain committed to ensuring that as a member-led organisation AMOSSHE continues to consult on and address the needs of members. This is vital in guiding the development of AMOSSHE’s services and to be able to act in a representative way as part of an Executive.
I am passionate about seeking to continue to support AMOSSHE’s work and feel ready to do this as Chair, and would be grateful for your support in being able to do that.
AMOSSHE continues to go from strength to strength. Our membership has grown; profile has increased; activity, reach and influence have grown; and National Office team is strong.
Looking forward, I see AMOSSHE needing to:
Having developed my leadership in Student Services with the support of the AMOSSHE family I believe I now have the skills and experience to make a contribution as Chair. I aim to adopt a style that is inspiring, supportive and inclusive and seek to lead with integrity and authenticity, driven by core values. I look to facilitate positive dialogue, the generation of ideas and high levels of professional commitment.
Fay Sherrington is Director of Student Services at Edge Hill University. Here's Fay's nomination statement:
I am currently the Director of Student Services at Edge Hill University, and having worked in Student Services for 10 years at three very different higher education providers, I have developed a range of skills and experience across a number of specialist areas. I feel that I continue to have a lot to offer to the Executive and would love the opportunity to do a further term, this time in a Vice Chair role.
Being an Executive member of AMOSSHE has provided me with new experiences and skills that have been invaluable in my roles both past and present, and in my career development. I have given a great deal of time and enthusiasm to AMOSSHE and feel I have been able to contribute to the development of our sector. I am very keen to build on the progress made by the current Executive and National Office teams and to seize the opportunity to play a more significant role in the future of AMOSSHE as a Vice Chair.
For me, the biggest contribution I was able to make to AMOSSHE over my time on the Executive was to co-lead the organisation of the annual conferences in Manchester (2014) and Newcastle (2015).
I have also represented AMOSSHE on a number of boards and meetings, chaired Futures events, led continuing professional development (CPD) events and organised many regional meetings.
I was very pleased to lead the organisation of the leadership CPD event this year. The AMOSSHE survey results from 2015 showed that ‘management and leadership’ was one of the top three topics that members wanted to see in future CPD events. I was committed to ensuring that this new event was unique and that there was a focus on Student Services to make it relevant and also of high quality.
My previous four years’ experience of serving on the Executive puts me in a good position to provide consistency and bring existing knowledge to the Vice Chair role.
My priorities in the role are underpinned by AMOSSHE’s values and strategy and shaped by the role and tasks of the Vice Chair. Working alongside the Chair, Vice Chairs and wider Executive I would prioritise taking forward projects that can deliver benefit to the whole membership. Specifically, priorities would include developing new and appropriate income streams that can be put forward for approval by the ethics board. Equally important is the ongoing work to enhance membership communication and engagement through improvements to the website.
My leadership style is one of influencing, persuading, gaining consensus and working collaboratively. As a volunteer member of the Executive surrounded by senior colleagues and working with outside organisations, I have found this style to be hugely beneficial. I have built up a good working relationship with the staff in the National Office and my colleagues on the Executive, and believe I have the qualities to be a strong Vice Chair.
Nicola Barden is Director of Student Services at the University of Winchester). Here's Nicola’s nomination statement:
I have been a member of AMOSSHE for many years, currently as Director of Student Services at Winchester University, and initially when managing Counselling and Mental Health Services at the University of Portsmouth. I have attended AMOSSHE conferences and regional meetings, and in 2013 completed one of the first Insight projects, ‘Mental Health Risk Assessment Across Services: Good practice and pitfalls’.
I have experience of committee work through BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy), as Chair of the Association and of various committees within it. Part of the role was to listen to and represent the views of members and to link those with a strategic direction that met the overall goals of the organisation, which is experience I would bring to the role of being on the AMOSSHE Executive.
I have clear interest in mental health issues, and am a member of the Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education Working Group (MWBHE), which provides consultation, runs conferences for the sector, and in 2015 published, with Universities UK, the Student Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education Good Practice Guide. I represent MWBHE / Universities UK on the newly formed Advisory Board for the National Union of Students Alcohol Impact Initiative. I would hope to contribute this to the Executive as an area of special interest.
Winchester is a new university with a traditionally shaped Student Services department. Its smaller size (circa 8,000 students) means I am involved with a wide range of activities on a number of levels, from delivering the access agreement to managing the choirs that sing at graduation. I have been heavily involved in preparing for the changes to the Disabled Students’ Allowance and with other issues of equality and diversity. This variety is part of the pleasure of working in Student Services and is also part of the broader picture that would inform my ability to contribute to AMOSSHE if elected.
Mandi Barron is Head of Student Services at Bournemouth University. Here's Mandi’s nomination statement:
I was elected as a member of the AMOSSHE Executive in 2014 and have enjoyed the experience so much that I have decided to stand again. During my term of office I have been involved, with my fellow Executive members, in reviewing the AMOSSHE strategy and establishing an ethics committee to help with future partnerships. I was a shadow member of the planning team for the All Change conference in 2015.
I have taken the opportunity to promote AMOSSHE beyond our normal Student Services boundaries by presenting at conferences run by USHA (the University Safety and Health Association) and CNOUS / Deutsches Studentenwerk (our French and German counterpart organisations) as well as our more traditional partners such as Access to Education.
I have also represented AMOSSHE on the Prevent Reference Group, working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England), Universities UK and LFHE (Leadership Foundation for Higher Education) to develop the LFHE Prevent training package, and chaired the AMOSSHE round table session on duty of care. If re-elected I will continue to raise the profile of AMOSSHE through local, regional and national collaborations.
I am committed to the advancement of Student Services in higher education and believe that we do need to approach things differently to keep abreast of the changing challenges that our students and institutes are facing. I have a particular interest in how we support non-specialist staff to deal with challenging student issues.
I believe my experience on the AMOSSHE Executive over the last two years, coupled with my institutional experience of all aspects of student life, has offered me excellent insight into the skills and attributes required for the role of an AMOSSHE Executive Member, and I would consider it a privilege if I were to be elected for a second term.
Helen McNeely is Head of Student Affairs at Queen's University Belfast. Here's Helen’s nomination statement:
Having just completed a two year term of office on the AMOSSHE Executive I would love the opportunity to continue for another two years to see through some of the work I have had the chance to be part of on behalf of the organisation. As a Head of Service at a regional university, I understand the importance and value of our connectedness as a body. I hope I have been able to support greater connectedness and sharing of good practice through my work helping to organise this year’s Winter Conference on duty of care, an issue of mutual concern to a large number of us. I also have the privilege of being part of the National Conference organising team for the summer conference 2016, helping us think through how to break boundaries in supporting students.
If the membership re-elected me I would be interested in assisting with future continuing professional development events, the benefits of which are across our whole membership. My current portfolio at Queen’s includes not only traditional Student Support Services but also Academic Affairs – the merging of these two functions has allowed my teams to work closely together with our academic colleagues to promote student wellbeing at every stage of the curriculum. I see this is an growing theme in the work of Student Support Services and would like to see what we can do as an organisation to explore this more fully.
Finally, in an increasingly diverse and regionally devolved sector I think it is important for voices from every area of the UK sector to have an active role in AMOSSHE. Hopefully returning to the Executive would allow me to continue to feed in to the national conversation from a regional perspective.
Peter Quinn is Director of Student Support at the University of York. Here's Peter’s nomination statement:
I’ve been at the University of York three years in June and am now interested in becoming more involved with AMOSSHE as an Executive Member. At York I have responsibility for a wide variety of Student Support areas and, like many of us, am experiencing institutional changes, re-structures and other significant challenges. I am continuing to learn from these experiences and have always enjoyed sharing these and learning from others in a really collaborative way.
I believe my recent and previous experience would be an asset to AMOSSHE. I take my work very seriously; myself less seriously and with a balance of effort, energy and enthusiasm I would be pleased to have the opportunity to help contribute to the progress AMOSSHE has made to date.
AMOSSHE undoubtedly has a role to play in the constantly evolving development of Student Services. I believe we can continue to provide networking, advice and continuing professional development opportunities that enable all of us to benefit from our collective experience in terms of local, regional and national challenges.
I have previously been a board member of NADP (National Association of Disability Practitioners) for several years and made a positive, collaborative and dynamic contribution there. I've also been Chair of a charity (KEEN) whilst at the University of Oxford and can bring this experience to the AMOSSHE board, benefiting the membership as a whole.
I still contribute financially to a school I taught at in Tanzania in the 90s and have been maintaining consultancy links with the Hong Kong Institute of Education over the last few years focussing on disability support structures. My family occupies most of my free time but when not spending time doing Dad stuff, listening to Greg Proops or playing ‘Words with Friends’ I can be found taking part in York Park Run, reading or enjoying Dim Sum.
Chris Shelley is Director of Student Services at King's College London. Here's Chris’s nomination statement:
When I took on the role of Director of Student Services at King’s, one of my first actions was to join AMOSSHE and extend the number of named members at King’s too. I am a great believer in the power of a national body that brings us together and maximises our collective knowledge, experience and ideas to help us become more than the sum of our parts. While we toil away at our respective institutions the power of AMOSSHE is always behind us, and for that reason I am keen to play my part in helping it continue to grow and strengthen.
I believe I have much to offer in both energy and experience. Since I took on my role the remit has more than doubled in size, now incorporating Academic Services such as timetabling, exams, graduation ceremonies, conduct and appeals, and visa compliance, alongside the ‘traditional’ welfare services. Like you, I have dealt with major institutional crises and individual emergencies as well as the daily challenges of developing services to meet increasing demand. As Prevent Lead at an institution in the spotlight I have more experience than I would like in handling the pressures that the duty has brought to us all, and I produced one of the modules for the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education’s suite of materials as a result.
I previously worked at the National Union of Students, supporting Students’ Unions across the UK and developing their processes around member engagement, elections, charity governance and campaigning. This gives me a broad knowledge of the sector and the challenges faced by institutions large and small, and I would like to bring this perspective to the AMOSSHE Executive.
I am excited by the opportunity to contribute to AMOSSHE as an Executive Member and I hope you will give me your support to do so.
AMOSSHE is directed by 12 Executive officers, who are Student Services professionals and AMOSSHE members. The Executive, who include AMOSSHE's Chair and Vice Chairs, are elected by the members and volunteer their time to ensure that AMOSSHE works in the best way to support our members, the sector and the student experience.
Executive roles last for two academic years, and every year half of the roles become vacant. All named AMOSSHE members have the opportunity to join the Executive by nominating themselves for a role.
If there's more than one nominee for a role, AMOSSHE members vote for the nominee they want to elect.
Here's the AMOSSHE quarterly bulletin for spring 2016: a roundup of AMOSSHE news, events, and more (click image to view - PDF 2.9 MB).
This bulletin contains news about keynote speakers at our forthcoming national conference, Breaking Boundaries. There's also a summary of our recent continuing professional development event about Student Services leadership, as well as infographics showing key details from our latest Student Services benchmarking survey.
Student Services leaders in UK higher education have contributed their feedback about a perceived increase in the amount of critical incidents being managed by Student Services – a number of which they believe may have involved suicide or attempted suicide. Members of AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation from over 50 UK higher education providers gave their views on the amount of time and resource each incident takes, noting the impact not just on those students directly involved, but also on staff and others who support those affected by these incidents.
AMOSSHE has collated a summary report of this feedback in order to share current experience of managing complex student cases between our members. Here are some of the key themes that emerged from the feedback:
As a professional association for Student Services leaders, AMOSSHE enables the sharing of good practice and expertise to help develop student success. Shared feedback such as this helps to give a wider context for our members as they work to support students who face mental health challenges. AMOSSHE provides a forum to share effective intervention strategies, policies and procedures to help ensure that students can achieve their full potential in higher education.
Commenting on the feedback, AMOSSHE Chair Ben Lewis said: “This evidence demonstrates the challenges universities face when dealing with unprecedented growth in demand for support. Student Services professionals are at the front line, safeguarding a more diverse, and more demanding student body. To do this they must manage increasingly complex student situations. Our members know our interventions with students are having a positive effect within the sector. It is important that institutions consider how they can deploy resource to manage the risks these situations create.”
AMOSSHE’s latest analysis of UK Student Services provision finds that annual Student Services expenditure budgets have not changed significantly in the last two years, and staff resources have also remained roughly the same.
AMOSSHE gathered member feedback during January and February 2016 about student mental health, critical incidents and suicide.
The information presented in this member feedback report was not collated as part of a controlled research project, and should not be presented as such. The report is a collation of members’ perceived shared experience of managing complex student cases, some of which involved suicide. The information provided has not been validated, so the findings do not represent any analysis or conclusions.
For further information please contact the AMOSSHE National Office on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's the AMOSSHE quarterly bulletin for winter 2016: a roundup of AMOSSHE news, events, and more (click image to enlarge - PDF 3.3 MB).
This bulletin contains news about booking for our forthcoming national conference, Breaking Boundaries, as well as details about other upcoming events. There are also overviews of the outcomes of our recent continuing professional development work, and details of this year's AMOSSHE Insight research projects.
On 4 December 2015 AMOSSHE responded to the UK government Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) written statement on Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs). Here’s the government’s written statement: Disabled Students' Allowances: Written statement.
Here's AMOSSHE's response to the written statement:
AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation, welcomes the ministerial statement for informing the sector about the outcome of the consultation on funding proposals for disabled students in higher education. AMOSSHE remains supportive of the overall direction of travel in further developing inclusive practice, maximising independence for disabled students and achieving value for money.
We are pleased that our concerns about the timeframe have been addressed, so that the changes will start from the 2016/17 academic year in line with the application cycle. However, there do not appear to have been any other substantial changes as a result of the consultation.
Many higher education providers have very good examples of practice in supporting disabled students, as recent HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) reports have shown, but although significant progress has been made, this is not acknowledged in the statement.
AMOSSHE is still concerned that the proposals relating to Non-Medical Help (NMH) provision and procurement represent a significant challenge, and that quality and value for money rather than price and the market should be the primary concerns. We would welcome working further with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on this.
AMOSSHE would also welcome further clarity and guidance, with case study examples, on where the balance of responsibilities lies with respect to funding adjustments and support for students, and about the quoted areas of exception. Guidance and resources on these areas would be useful for our members to help ensure good practice across higher education providers.
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AMOSSHE members can find even more news, plus sector and policy updates