The SU Strategy – 2021 – 2024

Our purpose

As a registered charity we have clear aims:

  • To promote the interests and welfare of our students here at UoG
  • To be the representative body of our students here at UoG
  • To provide activities and opportunities for our students here at UoG

Our core purpose is to fulfil these objectives and all the work we do will be seen to link back to them at all times. Whilst there is always a huge amount that UoGSU should be doing we need to ensure we’re focused and delivering our core purposes for our members.

Our values remain important

Inclusive – we’re an SU for everyone at UoG and we’ll champion the rights of those with protected characteristics

Democratic – being led by students is what makes us special and it’s incredibly important to us

Sustainable – we know that decisions we take have an effect in the world and want to make decisions that contribute positively

Courageous – we’ll take chance and try new things to make your experience at UoG the best it can be

Student focussed – our members will always be at the centre of our decision making

Honest – we’ll tell the truth and be open about our priorities with our members and stakeholders

Supportive – we’ll have your back and challenge those who make decisions to be as student focussed as we are

Fun – being a part of UoGSU should be transformative but also exciting


Our context

UoGSU is a small to medium sized SU, operating on the three main UoG campuses. We are a student led organisation with three full time, elected student officers. We deliver support for student groups like clubs and societies, we train and oversee student representatives, operate three small shops and three social spaces. Behind the scene we have a small central finance and HR team as well as a three-person senior leadership team.

As a registered charity, we have a trustee board to provide oversight made up of student trustees, officer trustees and external trustees. The Board delegate day-to-day responsibility for operating to the CEO who works with the Management Committee.

After a period of contracting student numbers our partner institution has now launched an ambitious growth plan with a view to expand a number of programmes significantly with the area of growth being the School of Health and Social Care. A big part of the next three years will be the development of the City Campus, Gloucester which will fundamentally shift the type of institution UoG is and what members require from UoGSU.

Following the global Covid-19 pandemic we are, like many organisations, remerging from remote engagement with our members and are excited to start engaging more in person.

We have a symbiotic relationship with the University of Gloucestershire and only succeed when our University partner succeeded. Like all good partnerships this is one of mutual respect, supportive challenge and finding shared goals. Throughout the coming years as the UoG community grows larger, ensuring this partnership is a healthy one which delivers for students will be a priority.


Our three areas of focus


Building strong communities


What we know:

Our members told us that a huge part of university life is beyond the classroom and that they look to the SU to be a central part of their student experience. We know that on campus student life is central to feeling a part of TeamGlos and feeling well whilst at University. We also know that some people don’t feel a part of the UoG community and that these people are less likely to want to stay and complete their studies which is a real shame.


The destination:

All students will recognise the SU as “the place to go” to make friends, find their niche and get involved with a student led group. We’ll be at the heart of campus and student life, delivering events and activities which suit our increasingly diverse membership and help student leaders develop skills which make them more employable in later life. Our strong community offer will contribute to people feeling a sense of belonging and well whilst at UoG.


The stops along the way:

By the end of academic year 2021-22 we will have refreshed how we fund club and society membership making it easier to understand for students and fairer. We will ensure that student groups don’t rely on external funding to deliver their core activities and that membership prices mean that students who want to engage with activities are not stopped at the first hurdle.


By the end of academic year 2022-23 we will have developed a specialised offer for students who study in the School of Health and Social Care, recognising the different experience that many students have in that school. The offer will focus on making those students feel an active part of UoG and UoGSU as well and ensure we shape all aspects of what we do, from sports teams to opening hours, to fit with their needs.


By the end of academic year 2023-24 we will have a vibrant series of events and activities throughout the academic year working closely with student groups and student led organisations. We’ll commit to delivering financially prudent events which mean they are sustainable and a reasonable cost for our members, delivering them with partners and looking to share risk wherever possible.



Shaping your academic life


What we know:

Every student at UoG is here to study and rightly, our members told us that their academic life was really important to them. Our members want to be involved in designing their courses, want help when things go wrong with their studies and want to feel represented by the SU on academic matters which affect them. Our Student Subject Coordinators are valued highly by University partners and want to be involved in supporting representation at school level.


The destination:

Every programme of study will have a local representative who contributes to the co-creation of their programme of study, students will recognise the SU as the place to cause change on academic issues and the SU will support students who need advice when they’re in conflict with the University.


The stops along the way:

By the end of academic year 2021-22 we will have refreshed our student feedback tool ensuring that student feedback leads to action and isn’t just collected for the sake of collecting it. We’ll work alongside our revised student leadership structure to give leaders at every level information about what our members things and use this to shape change across UoG. We will focus specific attention on providing information to Student Subject Coordinators for them to analyse and distribute more widely.


By the end of academic year 2022-23 we will have a fully funded advice service where students can access impartial, independent, expert advice from a trained professional housed within the SU. This service will enable our members to get the support they need when things go wrong at UoG and be confident that the support they receive is of the highest quality.


By the end of academic year 2023-24 we will have established a regular reporting structure throughout the academic year creating and sharing student insight at key points in the year which will lead to the student voice being at the forefront of institutional decision making. From an annual student experience report to an impact report each semester on the change brought about by Course Reps, we’ll share with our members and stakeholders the change we make at UoG. As well as this our representatives will be recognised as key partners during course design and revalidation and will work locally to ensure programmes of study are informed by students.


Supporting you to bring about change


What we know:

Students and young people have always been at the forefront of social change and our members are no different. They told us that being active on issues beyond UoG was important to them and that UoGSU should be an organisation that will help them organise and develop their campaigns into something impactful.

From calling for action on climate change to tackling injustices perpetrated against those in our community with protected characteristics, there is a desire in the student population at UoG to see change happen.


The destination:

Students at UoG will recognise that UoGSU is the on-campus home for student led campaigns and change. Our members will be confident change makers with the support of an expert team to shape their ideas into multifaceted campaigns which make their world a better place and help them develop skills beyond the classroom.


The stops along the way:

By the end of academic year 2021-22 we will have created an annual Priority Campaigns system whereby elected officer manifestos, student feedback and sector insight will shape three to five high profile campaign actions which are released each Welcome and delivered throughout the year.


By the end of academic year 2022-23 we will have developed a change academy training programme working with regional partners, University services and others in the sector to build sessions which equip student leaders with the skills needed to cause change


By the end of academic year 2023-24 we will have supported Network Leads and the Networks themselves to become semi-autonomous campaign groups which receive support from UoGSU rather than require UoGSU to take issue up on behalf of groups.


The enablers


Some things aren’t aims in and of themselves but help us to be successful in the areas we want to focus on – we call these enablers. Whilst they might not be as directly interesting to our members, we hold them equally important as without success here, we won’t be successful with the other areas of focus.




What we know:

Having a strong team of career staff who support the full-time elected officer and volunteers is hugely important in being able to achieve the outcomes we want. Staff bring skills, knowledge and experience which is invaluable in shaping the offer that we’re able to make to student leaders. Currently we have a committed but small staff team relative to similar sized SUs, our staff are paid less than they would be at other SUs and our wider reward offer is limited.


The destination:

We will have an attractive employment offer to make to career staff which retains talented people for a suitable time. We’ll have undertaken an Investors in People accreditation and have a staff team which is suitably sized to deliver the range of services we have for our members.


The stops along the way:

By the end of academic year 2021-22 we will have completed a full review of all of our internal staff HR policies and procedures ensuring that the meet legal requirements and best practice wherever possible.


By the end of academic year 2022-23 we will have completed and implemented a full review of the pay and reward offer for all staff posts within the SU to ensure we attract and retain talented people to support our members.


By the end of academic year 2023-24 we will have in place our ideal staffing structure to support the growth of UoGSU including a revised senior leadership team and increased opportunities for recent graduates by introducing 12-month intern positions.





What we know:

Hearing about the work of the SU and feeling like there are enough opportunities to communication thoughts back to the SU is something that our student leaders let us know is important annually. Having varied, open and honest communication is paramount to ensuring that our members feel a part of the SU and not just people engaging with an organisation.


The destination:

Our members will receive the information that is relevant to them on platforms that they use, they will feel they can communicate with the SU openly and our web presence will be recognised as sector leading.


The stops along the way:

By the end of academic year 2021-22 we will have redesigned our website with our members in mind – build from the user up, rather than our departmental structure down.


By the end of academic year 2022-23 we will have invested in our communications systems meaning that our members can shape the information they received from us via email. On top of this we’ll have a separate communications strategy that cuts across all our platforms ensuring consistence and best usage of the media we have open to us.


By the end of academic year 2023-24 we will have reshaped our brand and direct communications to ensure they are tailored for the different campuses and speak to the students that study there. We’ll be comfortable recognising that UoGSU means something different to different part of our membership and will reflect this more in how we communicate with them and the way our brand supports that.





What we know:

Members let us know in our strategy survey that spaces on campus to meet people was one of their top priorities for UoGSU to provide (coming second only to an advice offer). We know that commuter students especially benefit from spaces being inviting and comfortable, helping them to feel part of a community and develop on the idea of a “sticky campus”. In a post Covid-19 world we know that rebuilding social bonds is of paramount importance to our members and spaces that enable this are critical.


The destination:

UoGSU will operate student focussed spaces which support the development of community on each of the main campuses. These spaces will feel authentically for our members rather than designed by people far away from what they want those spaces to be and will be cost neutral or better for UoGSU to deliver.


The stops along the way:

By the end of academic year 2021-22 we will have redeveloped our spaces at Francis Close Hall and Oxstalls campuses with both spaces being seen as the centre of student life on each campus. They will host student groups, events where there is a bar offer and external partners who want to deliver for our members.


By the end of academic year 2022-23 we will have shaped our offer at the new City Campus in Gloucester ensuring that spaces identified for students in the new development work for students and that there is a plan to activate the spaces rather than just hope students use them.


By the end of academic year 2023-24 we will have refreshed the shop spaces to deliver services that students truly need to access more regularly than the merchandise heavy provision we have currently. The spaces will sell items which our members really need at prices which are attractive leading to more day-to-day interaction with UoGSU.




What we know:

Delivering for our members means, crudely, having the money to pay for staffing, training, services, and materials. As an SU at a small to medium sized University spread across three main campuses we have limited commercial opportunities to raise large amount of revenue from members purchasing directly from us. We have a relationship with our partner institution where block grant funding is tightly controlled and so there is real need to explore ways to raise income from beyond the walls of UoG.


The destination:

We will have a model of income generation that relies a lot less on students sending money in the SU and instead works with our members to generate revenue from external organisations using the skills at our disposal. We will deliver operating surpluses to support growth over the next three years to increase capacity within the SU to deliver our core charitable objects.


The stops along the way:

By the end of academic year 2021-22 we will have developed our JobShop offer for our members and as an income stream for the SU. We’ll work with Your Future Plan to find partner businesses in Gloucestershire and beyond where we can provide a quality service to match students to their needs.


By the end of academic year 2022-23 we will have launched our creative agency, employing students to create materials for local small and medium sized enterprises whilst building their portfolio. This will work closely with the Growth Hub and Your Future Plan to ensure the work is beneficial to our members whilst also developing a new revenue stream for the SU.


By the end of academic year 2023-24 we will have reviewed and refreshed our on-campus, online and partner led commercial offer for our members. We’ll ensure all suppliers are in keeping with our values and retender for new partners as needed to meet strict value for money and ethical standards.




Wellbeing and student welfare


We play an important role in supporting students to feel well whilst at UoG by enabling and enhancing the community on campus and in Cheltenham and Gloucester. We also support students to have their voice heard on issues of wellbeing services in the University, beyond in the NHS and other providers.


We recognise our role is not to be an expert in providing wellbeing interventions but to provide complimentary services which improve the lives of our members as well as act as group that lobby others and consult experts when needed. A key element of what we provide is support to student leaders in student groups to provide experiences which are inclusive, open and safe spaces to be a part of. The report authored by British University Sports about the club culture at UoG will form an important part of what we do in the coming years in partnership with our University colleagues.


Our partners


We know that our SU is made stronger by engaging in positive partnerships.


Most critical of all is our assertive partnership with our partner institution, the University of Gloucestershire. Like many good partnerships, this is a complex one where we advocate for our members yet recognise the role they play as our main funder. Many of our key services reside on the UoG estate and we have a range of agreements in place to provide shared services. We will always work on behalf of our members – enabling, sharing and praising University successes whilst being mindful to call truth to power when the University get it wrong.


Alongside this we have some other, valuable partners beyond our campuses:

  • The National Union of Students who we are affiliated with
  • British Universities and Colleges Sport who facilitate our inter-university sports teams
  • Our Varsity partner and more – the University of Worcester SU
  • Native – our events partner who are committed to providing great experiences for our members
  • Crowd – our commercial partner with neatly aligning values
  • Coole Insights – our partner who support and mentor student leaders at UoGSU




We recognise that all organisations inherently carry risks and the past two years have done a great deal to focus our attention on how we manage and mitigate risks we encounter. The risk appetite in managed by our Board of Trustees, made up of student leaders, current students and external experts. The Board support the senior management team to put into place control measures where risks can’t be avoided entirely and we draw on expert support externally where necessary.


How we’ll bring this plan to life


We know that strategies can be documents that can be written and put on shelves, ready to be re-written in 3 year’s time. We want this document to be live, engaged with and adapted year to year in response to the changing membership we have.


Annually we’ll produce an operating plan with clear KPIs and milestones which will draw down the strategic priority in this document, the manifesto aims of our elected student leaders and intelligence on what our students want their SU to be delivering for them. We’ll share this plan publicly to make clear to our members what we’re working on and enable them to hold elected officials to account for the work they oversee.