Preparing for 20-21

 

 

[Last updated 17:00, 3rd July 2020]

If you have any questions that are not answered here, please email your relevant staff support:

Staff Support

  • Who is my staff support?

To help you run your groups, the Student Engagement Department is there to help you. Within this department, there are dedicated staff to help with societies, volunteer groups, and student media outlets. You can contact them by emailing the following addresses: 

Societies: su-societies@qmul.ac.uk  

Student Media Outlets: su-studentmedia@qmul.ac.uk  

Volunteering Groups: su-volunteering@qmul.ac.uk 

  • Will there still be drop-ins? 

Societies

Normally there are weekly drop-ins in the Students’ Hub in Mile End and the BLSA building in Whitechapel. However, it is unlikely that the Societies Team will be running physical drop-ins during Semester 1. We are working on other ways to host these drop-ins and we will know more closer to September.

Volunteering Groups & Student Media Outlets

At present the Volunteering and Student Media Team will not be planning to hold drop ins. If you would like to schedule in a meeting, just send them an email. 

Semester 1

  • What will Semester 1 of the new academic year look like? 

Semester 1 will be disrupted and we are still uncertain to what extent. We are working with the University and the Students’ Union to make sure our spaces are safe and follow social distancing guidelines. As a team we are exploring options into how we best support groups. If you have any specific concerns, please get in touch. 

  • Will we be able to promote our group at a Welcome Week fair? 

Welcome Week is still planning to go ahead, but in an adapted way. There will still be Students’ Union-led events and activities to promote student groups to students so we will update you when we know more about what this looks like.

  • Can we run events in Semester 1? 

See the events section below. 

  • How should we prepare for the new academic year? 

To prepare for incoming students, make sure to update your minisite on the website with all the important information about your group - after you start on the 1st August, we will be granting you admin access to your minisite and provide instructions on how to edit it. 

You can also state on your minisite what events/activities you are planning to run, or how you intend to keep students involved if social distancing is still in place. You might want to rethink your memberships, and consider offering a virtual membership alongside the standard membership for students who are unable to attend events/activities in-person, remember to include this in your handover document.  

Student Group Spending Freeze

  • What is this spending freeze?

Since the 24th April, there has been a spending freeze across all areas of the students’ union, including within student groups to stabilize our finances. This means that you cannot spend any money for your group, including claiming any money spent during this time after the freeze has been lifted. 

  • When will the freeze be lifted? 

Until student numbers are confirmed by the University, we will not know how much block grant funding we will be receiving so the freeze is still in place for now. We hope for this to be lifted by September but we will keep this and you updated when we know more. 

  • Why is there a spending freeze? 

The Students’ Union normally has 3 main sources of income: 

  1. 2/3 of income comes from our commercial services – our cafes, shops, bars and gym on campus. The profits from these services are reinvested back into the charitable services of the Students’ Union.

  2. 1/3 of income comes from the University in the form of a block grant of funding each year. 

  3. We also have a very small amount of funding from other grant sources such as Sport England. 

The Students’ Union is a not-for-profit organisation, so we don’t make money for anyone else other than you. We spend some of the money raised on providing services for students, and these incur staff related costs, purchase/lease costs of equipment, building costs etc. Despite limiting expenditure, we continue to incur many of these costs, except the purchase of new products and equipment. 

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak we have suddenly lost 2/3 of our income because of the closure of all our commercial services. Even after the current lockdown situation ends, it is possible social distancing measures may remain in place for some time which will affect our income. In addition, we have concerns the University may also reduce the block grant funding they provide to the Students’ Union – both of these mean we could face further financial challenges for some time. 

Running Activities/Events

  • When can we run activities/events? 

We advise that you do not run any activities/events until after you have completed your training (see the training section below for more information). If you are planning to run events before the start of term, please contact your relevant staff support (see the top of this document for the contact details) so we are aware and can support you with this event. 

Activities/Events on campus

At present, the University has advised against all physical events on campus until January 2021. Because of this, we will not be taking any campus room bookings. This is subject to change depending on the Government guidelines on gatherings. 

Activities/Events off-campus

You must follow government guidelines on how many people can gather. Please get in contact with your relevant staff support to let us know you want to run any activities/events off campus.

Online/Virtual activity/events

Online events are a great way to engage with students for free. If you want to run any activities/events online, we recommend one of the following platforms: 

  1. Microsoft Teams - you should be able to log in using your QMUL email.

  2. Zoom - please note you are limited to 40 minute meetings at a time with the free version, and because of the spending freeze you are unable to purchase a premium account.

  3. Google Meet - as long as someone has a google account to create the meeting, other people can join without a google account. 

Note: If you are planning to run virtual events with under-18s please contact su-volunteering@qmul.ac.uk to make sure you have the right safeguarding measures in place.

  • How will we get members involved if we are unable to run our usual activities/events? 

Because of all the measures put in place, your group may need to adapt - see if it’s possible to move everything virtually. If this is not possible, you may want to consider charging a lower membership fee for Semester 1 and run different events until you are able to run your normal activities and events. 

Note: If you are planning to run virtual events with under-18s please contact su-volunteering@qmul.ac.uk to make sure you have the right safeguarding measures in place.

  • How will we run events and activities if we need to socially distance? 

Social distancing may require your group to adapt your events and activities further for everyone’s safety. You may need to alter the arrangements of the room, so that members are distanced from one another. If you are completing an activity, you may request members to bring their own equipment so that there is no need to share. If you need any help with this, just get in touch with your staff support. 

  • How can we get students involved if they are studying from home? 

If teaching is virtual, then some students may decide to learn from home and may not need to visit campus or even London (if they are located elsewhere). This is where virtual activities can help you. You could involve members virtually in different ways, get creative! For example, you could have a virtual team vs. a physical team. If you run lectures, you could record them for members who can’t attend. Why not have a think about this, and consider introducing a virtual membership? You could create this membership at a lower price than the standard, for students who want to get involved but will be unable to do so in-person.  

Committee Training

  • When is training?

Unlike Sport Clubs where training takes place in the summer, society, volunteering and student media outlet  training takes place in September, before the start of the academic year. This year is no different, especially as we are reviewing our policies and procedures over the summer.

  • What will training look like? 

Normally training is delivered face to face in a lecture style way, but we are working to change how we deliver training to improve this process. This will mean more online resources that you can access any time, online training, and handbooks. 

  • What about the information on the students’ union website? 

We are in the process of launching a brand new website in August, which means that the information that is currently on the website may be outdated. We suggest that you wait until the new website is launched, and that we deliver the training to you. If you have any questions about anything in the meantime, please get in contact with your relevant staff support. 

  • I’ve been on a committee before - do I need to still attend training? 

Yes. We are introducing changes to our procedures, with the biggest changes within societies. This includes the introduction of moving some of our financial procedures online, and how committees need to run elections. 

However, we recognise that we need to improve how we deliver training to people who have been on a committee before, so we are working on separate training for returners. We are also going through feedback in the 2019/20 student group survey to incorporate your comments and suggestions. 

Grant Funding

  • What is grant funding?

Grant funding is money provided by the Students’ Union to help groups fund their activities. There are normally various rounds throughout the year where groups can bid for money. 

  • Will there still be any funding?

Because of the students’ union financial situation, there will be a reduced pot of money that groups will be able to bid for. We are currently reviewing the grant funding process, and will be making some changes following feedback from this academic year. We will release more information about this in August. 

Memberships (for Societies and Student Media Outlets only)

  • How much should we charge for my annual membership? 

If you are completing your handover document and not sure how much to charge, the first thing we suggest you do is to visit your group’s page to see how much was charged this year. If you do not know how to find your group’s page, click on the links below.  

Societies: Mile End - https://www.qmsu.org/societies/findme/, Whitechapel - https://www.qmsu.org/societies/findbl/ 

Student Media Outlets: https://www.qmsu.org/studentmedia/join/

The Student Group Bye-Laws state that you need to charge at least £1. However, we recommend that you charge at least £5 for an annual membership. As there will be less grant money to apply for, many of you will need to rely on money you raise through memberships to help fund your activities. 

Note: Memberships are subject to VAT (this is covered in depth in training), a £5 membership would mean you would only get £4.17 per membership (to work this out you divide the amount by 1.2).

To give you an idea of how much income your group would get, see the table below: 

  • Can we change how much we charge our annual memberships? 

No. The Student Group Bye-Laws state that you cannot change your annual membership once you set it for the year. This is to ensure consistency to your membership for that academic year. Because of this, make sure you are happy with how much you charge for your annual membership. 

  • What if we can’t offer the same quality of activities/events to our members? 

If social distancing is going to affect the type of activities/events you run, we suggest you offer semester based memberships as well, and charge a lower amount for Semester 1, and then a higher amount in Semester 2 (and 3 if you are still running events then) if social distancing measures are relaxed. 

Alternatively you could also offer free/lower cost Online/Virtual Memberships that allows members to attend any online events you may hold, but not physical ones.