Glasgow University Union (GUU) has released its new strategic plan at its Annual General Meeting, setting out the Union’s aims and objectives leading up to 2018, focusing on student experience, ‘operational excellence’ and ‘effective communication’.
The new strategic plan updates the 2011 version by outlining a series of objectives intended to improve GUU’s services and its management, as well as addressing the relationship between the Union and students of the University.
Outgoing President, Owen Martin, writes in the introduction of his optimism regarding the new strategic plan, stating: “this plan presents a realistic and concise vision of where we hope to see ourselves in three years […]
“We hope this plan goes a long way to showing our dedication for improving and diversifying GUU’s operations as well as presenting a strong and defined focus for the future.”
However, in the plan, the Union admits failing to fully achieve half of the targets set out in 2011. These include the Union not being able to take its membership up to a third of the University’s student population, as it had previously hoped to do; being unable to hold monthly guest lectures and failing to establish the Union as a music performance venue.
The previous plan was disrupted by the demolition of the extension, which housed the Hive, in January 2013, resulting in the loss of the Union's biggest source of income, as well as its ability to hold regular club nights, putting it at a competitive disadvantage to the Queen Margaret Union. Since then, the University has been financing the Union, to keep it solvent, during the rebuilding of the extension.
The plan also acknowledges the damning criticism the Union attracted following the 2013 Ancients debating competition, when allegations of misogyny were made by two female debaters from other debating institutions. This led to the implementation of the Union’s Equality and Diversity policy and its Bullying and Harassment policy, as well as a new complaints procedure. However, even after winning Club Student Union of the Year three times in a row since 2011, the Union has struggled to change the perception of it as an unwelcoming institution.
The new strategic plan outlines GUU’s ‘effective communication’ proposal, which looks to “[ensure] GUU continues to transparently and comprehensively investigate any complaint or negative feedback and to make sure proactive measures are taken” as well as to “seek to expand on the current equality and diversity training in place”. These aims are put forward alongside the Union’s plans to strengthen its communications capability to increase awareness of and engagement with the services it provides.
Furthermore, the plan includes an aim to “help our members develop useable skills that benefit them during and after their time at university." It looks at improving the Union's competitive standing in debating; expanding the contribution and profile of its magazine, G-You; as well as promoting its committee events and affiliated societies so that the Union sees more student involvement and participation. The new extension, which is planned to open in September 2015, also features in the strategic plan, as it will reportedly give the Union “the best student night club in Glasgow."
Rory Slater, GUU's newly elected President, told Glasgow Guardian that "through extensive stakeholder engagement in the closing months of 2014 we have established a strong and clear vision for the coming three years which covers not only the overall student experience but also operational excellence and effective communications."
He went on to say: "Whilst the coming year will be hugely exciting for Glasgow University Union with the opening of the new extension nightclub, the strategic plan gives the incoming board context on which to frame our year(s) in office. We have set ambitious, yet realistic goals which will go a long way to improving the overall student experience of Glasgow University students and the exciting future of GUU."
The full strategic plan can be found at: https://issuu.com/guui/docs/strategic_plan_2015-2018_final_v2?e=0