Undergraduate students attending a maths lecture, Mathematical Sciences Building, University Park

October 19, 2015, by Ryan Neal

Project Transform Academic Staff Survey

Earlier this year Project Transform conducted a survey amongst Academic staff regarding administrative tasks related to the student journey. A significant number of responses were received, providing detailed information that will be of substantial use in the design of new processes, team structures, the physical layout of the new premises, and communications between staff and students. The responses demonstrated how much administrative staff are valued by their academic colleagues and the close relationship that exists.

With this in mind, there were a number of key, recurring concerns that came to light through the survey, and these are outlined below along with the resolution that will be adopted during implementation.

A large number of responses emphasised the need to have administrative support available locally to academic staff to assist them with a wide range of student journey processes.

  • Project Transform will eliminate much of the administrative work currently undertaken by academics, so the need for support will decrease
  • We will work closely with academic staff to ensure that no essential processes are overlooked
  • APM staff will be retained in Schools where a close relationship between APM and academic staff is required

Many of the survey responses highlighted the importance of having clarity as to the individual administrator who should be contacted with regard to particular matters.

  • The new organisation will make clear who should be contacted for particular matters.  In addition, the management team will hold responsibility for managing the relationship between the administrative teams and each School, providing a direct personal route for any issues.

A frequent comment arising from the survey was the need for administrative staff to have knowledge of the school and its provision.

  • The retention of certain administrative staff within schools/faculties/buildings will ensure that local knowledge is preserved and available to academic staff and students
  • The allocation of duties within service centres will be undertaken with respect to the prior experience of staff within relevant Schools
  • Service centre staff will be enabled and encouraged to spend time in the Schools they are serving to reinforce and update this knowledge

Many survey responses pointed to the important role of locally-based administrative staff in providing advice to academics on course and University regulations and administrative procedures.

  • The enhanced functionality of the new systems being installed will enable many regulatory and procedural steps to be automated within the system, therefore reducing the need for such queries
  • Advice on regulations and procedures will still be accessible to academic staff and will be signposted by the management team mentioned above

A number of survey responses highlighted the importance to students of receiving a personalised service and felt that this could best be delivered at a local/school level.

  • A sense of community will be preserved in schools by retaining discipline-specific support within schools/faculties
  • The new software will provide staff with high quality information so that they can offer students a personal service, e.g. by giving academic staff much fuller and more readily accessible information about their tutees

The survey also demonstrated some concern from academic colleagues about the way in which specific processes will be managed. The level of detail offered in these responses highlighted the need to consult with individuals who have relevant expertise on how best to optimise these processes within the new model. The survey was a valuable tool in demonstrating the areas in which the collaboration of academic staff will be required during the implementation phase.

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