November 20, 2014, by offcampus

National Community Conference 2014

The Off Campus Student Affairs team here at the University of Nottingham have been lucky enough to spend the last couple of days up in Manchester at the 2014 National Community Conference, and we wanted to share some of what we heard about and talked about with our blog readers.

The conference was the second in a series which started with a one-day event in Reading last year. This year, the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University jointly hosted a two-day event which brought together staff from higher education institutions across the UK, SU representatives, landlords, council workers, police representatives and other individuals with an interest in the relationship between universities and their local communities.

Our Mancunian hosts shared some great examples of how the University of Manchester works with its local community, and plays an important role in the city. Here at Nottingham we’re really proud of the links the University has with the city too, and it’s always fascinating to see how it works elsewhere and the different initiatives that are in place.

We heard from representatives of the International Town and Gown Association about how universities work on sometimes contentious issues in the United States, focussing on the specific example of the University of Colorado, Boulder. While some things are very different there (police give out $1000 dollar fines per person on the spot if they’re called to a noisy party, for example), other things are much the same. They share the same attitude we do in our department, which is that equipping students with the information they need to live happy, safe and respectful lives in the community is a top priority.

Breakout sessions gave us the opportunity to hear about work going on elsewhere, and think about how other people’s success might be applied in a Nottingham context. Some schemes work incredibly well in one place, but it’s often to do with the local picture and specific factors in play there so it is always interesting to talk through those elements and compare them to the situation you work in. It’s also interesting to hear about the campaigns people run – we all work on sharing information about waste management, avoiding becoming a victim of crime and being a good neighbour, but everyone approaches it in quite a different way.

Our very own Melanie Futer, Off Campus Student Affairs Manager, delivered one of the breakout sessions and spoke to a group about ten years of working on off campus matters at the University of Nottingham. The conversations must have been good, because they were the last group to leave and were late for the coffee break!

The conference was an excellent opportunity to share ideas and best practice with people working in a similar area, and we offer our congratulations to the organisers on a very engaging programme.


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