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February Academic Report from your VPA

8 March 2024

Table of Contents

VPA Update

February has been an eventful month as we continue to extend unwavering support to students facing academic challenges, in collaboration with our dedicated advice team.

Advancing Academic Equity

Started the month off with a productive meeting with the Vice Principal of Education (Blair Grubb) to finalise the papers for our proposed scholarship initiative aimed at bridging the gap for home students from underprivileged backgrounds. With Dominic’s (SP Medicine) assistance, we conducted a survey to gauge student preferences for a Ninewells breakfast club and made steady progress with the Kirkcaldy breakfast club. A comprehensive proposal, in collaboration with the NHS, has been submitted to university management. Discussions also centred around implementing a no-detriment policy for exams, particularly for students affected by international conflicts. We concluded by emphasizing the significance of integrating internships into university education, ensuring students gain valuable work experience alongside their studies.

In our ongoing efforts to support students academically, I partnered with Dani (SP HSSL) and Matthew (SP Dentistry) to organise referencing sessions, while also exploring innovative initiatives with the Cybersecurity team, such as escape room sessions focusing on cybersecurity and academic integrity. Our collaboration with EIS (English for International Students) continues to provide weekly opportunities for language improvement. Additionally, discussions with Vice-Principal International (Wendy Alexander) regarding Academic Timetabling and Friday Prayers have been elevated to a formal agenda item.

Reconnecting Representation

February witnessed engaging events, including the AFCON watch party at the Liar, organised by SRC TPG Rep Samuel, which brought together students from diverse backgrounds, fostering community spirit. Collaborating with Tosan (SRC General), we crafted a proposal to address cost-of-living issues by advocating for free on-campus haircuts, awaiting approval from the SRC.

Innovative City-Wide Partnerships

As part of ongoing work with the SRC Palestine group, we organized a dinner event in partnership with the Islamic Society, Malaysian Society, and other stakeholders. This event aimed to discuss academic and well-being support for fasting students while fundraising to provide free meals in our city and support displaced children in Gaza.

Education Steering Group Update

In Attendance:
Mubarak (VPA), Marlon (SP SSEN), Dominic (Medicine), Erin (HSSL), Connor (Business), Joanna (DJCAD), Lucas (Health Sciences), Ridvan (Life Sciences), Marcus (SRC L&T), Samuel (SRC TPG Rep)

Apologies:
Matthew (SP Dentistry), Tosan (SRC General), Prashant (SRC Employability)

The group convened for its 2nd meeting on March 7th. During the session, the group undertook a comprehensive review of its action tracker, assessing the progress of events planned, with each project either completed or underway. Among the long-term projects discussed, the group focused on advancing the QAA Hybrid Learning Space recommendation. Drafts of questions were formulated for surveys to be conducted within each school, with plans for circulation and approval slated for the next meeting. Each School president was designated to spearhead the collection of feedback from their respective schools.

Deliberations extended to matters pertinent to student welfare however impacting academia; the proposition of dedicated water cleaning facilities, such as bidets, in libraries and other campus spaces. The objective is to foster a welcoming and conducive environment for students to study comfortably. While the idea garnered enthusiasm, it was deemed essential to engage in consultations with the chaplaincy and various student groups. The VPA is tasked with leading these discussions. Concerns regarding potential misuse of such facilities and resultant workload implications for cleaning staff were noted and will be factored into subsequent proposals.

A significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to scrutinizing the current mitigating circumstances (mit-circs) process, recognizing its inadequacy in addressing academic equity concerns uniformly across all schools. The VPA presented a brief outlining potential enhancement, including a provision for limited non-evidence-based mitigating circumstances. While this proposal was generally well-received, several considerations were raised, such as ensuring students are adequately prepared for professional environments, addressing scenarios of overlapping issues impacting multiple deadlines, and handling recurring circumstances. While existing university policies address recurring circumstances, other concerns pertained more to practical application than conceptual endorsement. Tthe group unanimously agreed that the proposal holds merit, albeit acknowledging the need for substantial groundwork in its implementation. The L&T representative notably highlighted that such measures align with prevailing institutional standards, as several universities have already adopted similar policies.

Additionally, preliminary discussions were held on devising engaging escape room activities centred around student concerns such as Academic Integrity, Use of AI, and Cybersecurity, with further updates anticipated as plans progress.

Concluding the session, the VPA presented a paper addressing the current DUSA executive structure, particularly in response to earlier concerns raised by school presidents regarding student involvement in commercial services provision. The proposal recommended incorporating a position within the sabbatical group responsible for overseeing commercial services, including retail, bars, and night-time events. The group unanimously endorsed this proposal, expressing optimism about its potential to yield positive outcomes for the student body.

Picture of Mubarak Babalola
Mubarak Babalola

VICE PRESIDENT OF ACADEMIA

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