The University of Auckland has opened up the first draft of their Student Services Strategy (SSS) for consultation with students.
The SSS is, in essence, a high-level overview of the university’s future plans to improve life for students on campus. The SSS determines how the university’s money will be spent, where its resources will be allocated, and what aspects of the university will receive attention.
In the past, the SSS has had a hand in deciding how student-focused services – which include things like degree planning stations, services which help students transition from high school to university, and well-being and mental health support – receive funding. The support is generally allocated according to the perceived needs of students.
The university’s latest SSS – which has not yet been finalised – identifies eight things the university needs to improve upon. According to the draft, these include “delivering services from a student perspective”, “responding to changes in employment”, and introducing “infrastructure that supports student needs”, among other things.
The draft recommends the university introduce 17 key initiatives, which are intended to combat these problems. These initiatives include things like creating “a safe, inclusive environment” for students, “enabling students to connect” with future job opportunities, “increas[ing] academic literacy and student learning support”, and more.
The draft has been uploaded to the university’s website, and it is currently open for consultation. Students are encouraged to read the SSS draft and send any opinions through to the university.
Craccum applauds the university for taking steps to ensure student voices are heard in high-level decision making. However, it is worth noting that there are still several issues related to SSS draft which may be of concern to students. The first is that the document does not mention how many resources will be allocated to each initiative. It is difficult to judge whether the universities strategies will be effective without first seeing how many resources will be put towards achieving the goal. Similarly, as far as Craccum could tell, the document does not set any hard dates for the initiatives.
More worryingly, the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) the university plans to use to measure the success of their initiatives are very vague. The KPIs – which are supposed to be metrics by which the university can measure how well their initiatives have performed – include things like checking whether the initiatives have created “excellent students”, “a high performing institution”, or added “value to students’ lives”. Craccum worries that the KPIs are not actually measurable, as they are not data-driven. If the KPIs cannot be truly and accurately measured, they are essentially useless.
Craccum strongly recommends any interested students visit the university’s website to read the draft SSS and record their opinion. At time of writing, the website says consultation opens “Monday 2nd of August” (a date which doesn’t make sense) and closes on the 30th of August. Craccum believes the consultation process actually started on the 22nd of July.