for you




with you

for you

STraTEgIc PlaN 2015–2020





Hi everyone,

I’m delighted to present the Students’

Union Strategic Plan for 2015–2020.

This Plan highlights what QUBSU will do

for our students, our members, over the

have had their say. You have told us

what we do well, what we need to do

better and things you would like to see

us doing more of.

Your Students’ Union is here for you.

Our key purpose is to represent and

speak out on the issues that matter most

to our students. We are a democratic

body that is inclusive and welcoming to

everyone. The Students’ Union should

be a fun and exciting place for you to

go, where our entertainment and events

venues are top class; where students can

gather to relax and hang out; and where

you can organise the events, meetings

and gatherings that matter to you.

It is a crucial time for students, and it

is important that you have a strong

Students’ Union that is delivering for

you. In times of hardship we will be here

to support you. We will offer advice, be

a safe place for you to talk and help you

to change things to improve your time

as a student.

and fun. We want to see you grow and

develop the skills and experiences

you need to achieve the things that

you want to achieve. The Students’

opportunities through Volunteering,

Enterprise, Clubs and Societies, and

Democratic Representation. You can

develop skills and learn new ones

through giving back to Queen’s and the

wider community or even by developing

your own business idea. Or you can

even channel your inner activist by

representing your classmates and peers.

Our vision and mission is to make

student life at Queen’s enriching,

rewarding and fun by reaching out to

each and every student to provide the

services and support that you need to

make your time at Queen’s incredible.

This Strategic Plan lays out the ways

and means that we intend to do this.

want to see in your Students’ Union and

believe that through the research and

work we did alongside students, we

have created a plan that truly represents

what you want us to be.

It is vital that the Students’ Union is

providing a voice for students in society.

We want to empower you to use your

voice. It is so important that we all work

together to speak up for ourselves

and our rights, within the University,

wider society and to our elected

representatives in Government.

Caoímhe McNeill

Caoímhe McNeill


Since the launch of the last Queen’s Students’

Union Strategic Plan, covering the period

from 2012 to 2015, we have achieved

successes in all of our key areas of work, as

well as a number of important accolades

achieved at both a local and national level.



out 114 Unions for

Student Experience






societies members



out of 137 stud

in the u

green impact award

National Union of Students



students involved

in volunteering

students supported

by the SU Advice

Centre every year

SINCE 2012





student survey


ents’ unions

k (NSS)

introduction of




ni education

partner of the year

award 2014


in people




homework clubs

across belfast




societies 2014-15,

compared with

157 in 2011




We’re here to make student

life at Queen’s enriching,

rewarding and fun!




We will reach out to every

student and provide the services

and support they need to make

the most of their time here.




These are the principles that drive us and

shape what we do every day. They underpin

everything we do as a Students’ Union and

help us to achieve our long-term vision.


We’re a student-led and active Union

in which every student has an equal

voice and every student counts.


We’re founded on equality,

inclusivity and representation.


We’re a modern Students’ Union with

the technology, facilities and resources

that our members need today.


We’re professional in our approach

to delivering the services we provide

to students, and to developing our

wider role within the local community.


We’re in touch with the issues that

matter to students right now. We’ll

endeavour to make our relevance

and value clear to every student.


We believe in the value of a lively,

enjoyable and active social life for

our members, and we’ll provide

opportunities to help make the

student experience fun.

every student

has an equal

voice and

every student





We’re ambitious in our commitment

to our students. We want to provide

an environment that can help you

to develop, relax and expand your

horizons during your time at Queen’s,

being your first port of call and the

face of the services you need.

These are unprecedented times in

Higher Education and in this fast

moving and competitive sector, the

delivery of an exceptional student

experience is central to the

realisation of our goals. To achieve

the necessary ‘step change’, we

recognise that the Students’ Union

must align its services to meet

the changing mix of students that

is anticipated by 2020. We also

recognise that we are operating at a

time of budget cuts within the Higher

Education sector, which provides

challenges when trying to provide

world class facilities for our students.

In order to remain focused and relevant in the current environment, we know

that we need to continually reshape our services with member need as the focus,

while also building on those things that make us unique, namely:

Our Voice

We speak up on the issues that matter

to our students.

Our Ethos

We’re inclusive, democratic and


Our Space

Facilities for entertainment and events,

for Clubs and Societies, and for relaxing.

Our Influence

As a membership organisation, we stand

together, defending student interests.


Appropriate support for our students

is essential to realising our goals and

the Students’ Union believes that

purpose. With this in mind, we are

currently working in partnership with

the University to potentially develop a

new state-of-the-art Students’ Union,

bringing together a full range of

support, advice, representational,

developmental and commercial

your experience at Queen’s. When

complete, the new facility will be the

epicentre of student life on campus

and will transform the way our

members engage with the extensive

range of support services that the

University and the Union provides.

The new Students’ Union will:

∙ Provide a ‘one stop shop’ for all of

the Union and the University studentfacing

services making it easier for

you to find the services you need.

∙ Meet the needs of all students, with

specific attention given to non- engaged

students and those groups identified

as growth areas in Vision 2020.

∙ Optimise the Union’s strong

partnership with the University,

linking both sets of services.

∙ Facilitate informal interaction

with regular and ad-hoc events

and activities.

To be an effective and progressive Students’ Union, we recognise that

we need to work in partnership and collaboration with our many

stakeholders to give our students the very best University experience.

the next

five years

will be






To help us create a robust strategy for the future, we asked our members and

stakeholders what they want from their Students’ Union. Throughout 2014-15,

Student Officers led an extensive research and consultation programme to

inform and shape how we go forward over the next five years.

The programme included:

∙ an online survey that generated 3,875

student questionnaire responses.

∙ a series of focus groups with

members of the Students’ Union

Council, office bearers of Clubs and

Societies, Course Representatives

and non-engaged students.

∙ consultation interviews with Union staff

and University senior management.

∙ an independent review by the

National Union of Students Strategic

Support Unit (NUS Diagnostic).

∙ an audit by the Students’ Union

Evaluation Initiative (SUEI), a

national accreditation body.

∙ an audit of other students’ unions’

best practice and benchmarking.

The findings have provided us with

valuable information to enable us to

develop a strategy that will provide real

benefit for our students over the next

five years.

The next five years will be exciting as well

as challenging, and we are committed

to delivering the Students’ Union that

our students, staff and stakeholders have

told us they want, need and expect.




Our themes constitute the roadmap

for the journey ahead. They have been

formulated from student feedback,

and each theme will have annual goals

and indicators outlined in our action

plan to measure our progress across

the life of the Plan. Everything that

we are planning over the next five

years will have our students’ needs

and our core values at its heart.

_ _ _

We're inclusive and


Making every student’s voice count

We're welcoming

and fun

Here for a chat, here for the craic

We're on

your side

Always standing up for students

and student interests



We're available,

active and approachable

Being on the ground and

visible to students


We're serious about

your success

Committed to developing

your potential

a Plan



needs at

its core


inclusive and



Making every student’s voice count

During our consultation process, you

told us that the elected Students’

Union Council is becoming much

more effective in terms of its work for

students. You believe that the elected

officers work hard and are committed

to delivering change for the benefit of

all students at Queen’s. But you also

feel that the Union needs to take on

more of a leadership role and that the

elected officers need to show how

they represent student opinion at

Queen’s. Over the next five years, we

will invest in representing the student

voice so that your Union helps to shape

decisions taken by the University and

drive positive social change by local

and national government. We are

committed to working in partnership

with the University to make sure that the

voice of our members is heard, both on

a local level and on a wider scale.


Student Officers

People who understand their role and

who are more visible on campus.

effective campaigns

Influence decision-making and generate

the change that matters to you.

better mechanisms

Ways to listen to your needs, so that

we are always up to date and relevant.

effective communication

News of what we have been doing to

improve your time at University.



Listen to our students, meet the needs of

all students and offer an enhanced student

experience in line with the University’s

Vision 2020.

5% increase, year on year, in the number of

students participating in democratic activities.

Systems in place to allow all students to have a

say in every aspect of the Union.

Deliver a more comprehensive programme

of training for representatives.

Train and support hundreds of students

every year who take on representative roles

to ensure that our students’ voices are heard.

Additional staff in place to review and implement

a comprehensive programme of training on an

annual basis.

A minimum of 500 students trained in pro-actively

working on behalf of students on an annual basis,

nurturing and developing new student leaders.

Engage with under-represented groups

including international students,

postgraduates, women, mature students,

part-time students, disabled students, LGBT

students etc.

Introduction of 12 part-time Student Officers

elected on an annual basis to support the work

of our full-time Student Officers, resulting in an

increase in participation from these groups.

Carry out further research with ‘nonengaged’

students to extend our

commitment to reaching those students who

currently have limited understanding of how

the Union can add to their time

at university.

A research project undertaken and

recommendations implemented.

Represent our students on University

committees that oversee academic and

support provision on campus.

Students represented on all University committees

where decisions affecting students are made.

Increase the number of students voting

in elections.

5% increase, year on year, in the number of

students voting in Student Officer Elections.

Students inspired to engage with the 2016

Assembly Elections.

Student issues high on the local and national


Implement an independent review of

‘Democracy’ by the National Union of

Students (NUS).

Review recommendations implemented by 2018.

Enhance the partnership between student

representatives and the University to ensure

an increase in student satisfaction, with

more effective representation and better

communication of outcomes.

Student satisfaction score of 85% in the National

Student Survey and ranked in the top 10 of

Students’ Unions in the Times Higher Survey for

Student Experience by 2020.

Raise our profile amongst members,

stakeholders and the community.

Increased emphasis on marketing,

communications and engagement.

Continue to be involved in initiatives run by

the local community to ensure our students

are active citizens.

Our students involved in external community


More events and initiatives taking place that allow

the local community to use the Students’ Union.



and fun


here for a chat, here for the craic

We want you to feel that we are here to support you through your University

life but also to make your time at Queen’s as fun and enjoyable as possible.

You told us that you love the ‘community feel’ of the Union. Together we will

build on this spirit, making sure every student — undergraduate, postgraduate,

mature or international — feels welcomed and valued.


Officers and staff

Student Officers and staff who are

welcoming, approachable and always

willing to help.


Investment and improvements to the

SU building.

A Quiet Room open to all.


Bar, entertainment venues and retail outlets

that provide a diverse programme of events

and activities and deliver value for money.


Rooms available for booking by Clubs,

Societies and other student groups, free

of charge.


An Advice Centre that offers support and

guidance on issues that matter most to

our students.



Work in partnership with the University to

secure funding for the development of a new

world class Students’ Union.

Approval granted and funds committed by the

University in 2016 for a new Students’ Union.

Continue to offer students a wide range of

opportunities to make lasting friendships as

well as providing opportunities to build skills

for the future.

Higher levels of participation in SU led

programmes and initiatives.

Strive to make the Union more welcoming

to students.

80% of the students completing the annual

SU survey indicating that the SU had a positive

impact on their time at Queen’s.

Encourage an increased numbers of students

to get involved in the Freshers’ period.

Delivery of a diverse range of activities over the

Freshers’ period.

Celebrate our students’ contribution to

university life at a number of events, in

conjunction with the University.

Delivery of a calendar of key student events

and activities including Freshers’ Fair, the SU

Awards, the Volunteer Excellency Awards and

the Education Awards.

Monitor and benchmark to ensure that the

Students’ Union offers value for money in its

Bars, Entertainment venues and Shop.

A commercial forum established, in partnership

with the University, to look at new ways to create

revenue while also meeting the needs of all

students, with all commercial profits reinvested

into the Union.

Create a fun environment and a sense of

community for all students, providing a hub

for students to participate in a diverse range

of activities.

Review our entertainment programme to

encourage increased numbers of students to

attend events on a regular basis.

Continue to support students who set up new

Clubs and Societies covering new interests.

Provide Rooms and facilities within the Union

for our Clubs and Societies at no cost.

210 active Clubs and Societies by 2020, with

overall membership numbers growing by a

further 10% by 2020, to over 12,000 students.

Support Clubs and Societies in running events

and activities that bring together home and

international students, leading to a better mix

of student members to reflect a more diverse

student population.

Clubs and Societies encouraged to be more

inclusive in terms of reaching out to students

from all backgrounds, recognising the changing

student population at Queen’s.

Investigate the possibility of locating a ‘Quiet

Room’ in the Union.

A ‘Quiet Room’ established, available for use by

all Queen’s students.

Work closely with Queen’s Sport to assist

them in the delivery of the new Queen’s Sport

Strategy, particularly through developing a more

comprehensive programme of recreational sport

for all students, to complement the programme of

competitive sport.

Queen’s Sport supported in the delivery of their

new Sports Strategy.


on your



always standing up for students

and student interests

In our annual student survey you told us:

∙ that we need to become relevant to

students by fighting for what really matters

to you, and

∙ that the quality of your education is one

of your top priorities.

It makes sense that the University’s 2020

Vision and the SU’s objectives should broadly

align, given that our relationship with the

University is a key partnership. While we will

continue to work collaboratively with the

University, our findings also show you think

it’s important that we hold the University to

account, particularly when it comes to the

quality of your education.

This theme builds on Theme 1 — our

commitment to having your voice heard

— and is underpinned by the autonomy

and independence of the Students’ Union,

representing our members’ interests while

continuing to be a critical partner of the

University, engaging them at all levels to

improve the student experience.



Continued support from the Advice Centre,

particularly during the appeals process.

a finger on the pulse

Better mechanisms to listen to your needs,

so that we are up to date and relevant.


Improved support for your Student

and Course Representatives.


Student Officers representing your

interests at key University committees.



Appropriately resource the Advice Centre to

continue to offer free, independent, confidential

and non-judgmental advice and representation

to students on a wide range of issues.

An increase in awareness of the Advice Centre

services and additional resources in place to

allow the Centre to deliver the best possible

service to students.

Increase the number of students involved in

University disciplinary and academic progression

cases being supported by the SU Advice Centre.

Increased student engagement with the range

of support available from the Advice Centre.

Appropriate resource in place to provide

students with accurate and relevant


Prioritise staff and student happiness and


Wellbeing action plan developed and

updated annually.

Develop and support the delivery of enhanced

democratic activities within the Union.

A Student Voice Support Officer employed

to provide elected Student Officers with

support, both on an operational and

administrative level.

Provide staff support to student and course

representatives in planning and implementing


A range of student led activities delivered on

an annual basis.

Development of key transferable skills for all

student representatives.

Ensure student reps have a stronger voice in

influencing and changing curriculum design

and development through better engagement

and representation on University committees.

Improved representation on committees

as well as a better working partnership with

the University.

Increase student-led initiatives and campaigns,

with a view to promoting and influencing

change, focusing on campaigns with the

greatest impact (for example, opposing

funding cutbacks in Higher Education funding).

Having an influential voice on local and national

issues including the ability to influence policy at

a government level, particularly on issues such

as cuts and fees.

The Union to be seen as a key partner in

shaping Higher Education policy at government

level, with Student Officers regularly called

upon for their views.

Continue to improve our environmental status

and support the elected Officer Team to lobby

the University on ethical and environmental

issues as well as encouraging students to get

involved in environmental projects.

The Union recognised as continually

improving with regards environmental and

sustainability issues.

Review our catering following member

feedback from the 2015 SU Survey.

A range of food and catering solutions

available to meet all budgets.

Kitchen facilities available for students to ‘bring

your own’ food as well as improved spaces for

eating and relaxing.


available, active

and approachable


being on the ground

and visible to students

In 2014–15, Student Officers made a conscious decision to make themselves

more visible to students around campus (via initiatives such as the ‘Pop-Up SU’)

to tell you what the Union is all about. And the feedback? You loved it! In fact, our

research showed that we need to do much more of this sort of thing. You want us

to be more visible — particularly the Student Officers. You want to recognise them,

know they are available and approachable and, most importantly, they are active

on your behalf, fighting your corner.



The Student Officers, Marketing and

Student Voice ‘bringing the Union

to you’ and opening up channels of



Increased engagement with the

student population across the

University campus by Student Officers

and staff.



Re-focus our democratic activity to be more

student facing.

The Student Officer team recognised as

being more welcoming and accessible to


Have a well-resourced marketing and

communications team that is able to

communicate clearly and consistently.

An annual marketing, communications and

campaigns budget in place, resulting in better

engagement with the student population and

key stakeholders.

Develop a new, modern website.

New website by 2017, offering better

interaction with students and increased traffic

to the site.

Communicate our governance structures

more clearly.

Students to have a better understanding of

our decision-making structures.

SU Council more visible and representative

of students.

Work in partnership with relevant Queen’s

departments to ensure that we effectively

communicate with our students.

Improved communication with the student

body, external stakeholders and the wider


Aim to have increased numbers of students

using our services and a highly visible

representative service within the Union.

Student Officers spending more time actively

engaging with the student population

through the SU pop-up initiative, lecture

shout-outs and drop-in clinics etc.

Improve our social media presence so that

students want to engage and connect with us

more regularly.

Greater levels of interaction with students

across various social media platforms.

Ensure all of our students feel included,

supported and part of the Union.

Communications developed that better

reflect and celebrate the diversity of our

student body.

Improve communication of our achievements

and the achievements of our students to the


The achievements of the Students’ Union

effectively communicated both internally and


Make students more aware of how to locate

our various support services.

More effective communication on how to

access all support services in the Union,

including implementing better signage.


serious about

your success


committed to developing your potential

A core finding from our research was

how important it is that we continue

to provide a positive contribution to

developing your skills and experience

whilst at university. You told us that

you believe that there are good

opportunities available to cultivate

ideas and enthusiasm within Clubs

and Societies, Enterprise SU and

Volunteer SU, to improve employment

prospects and skills.

You also highlighted to us the

important role we play in helping

students to finance their university

experience by providing part-time

jobs and internships within the Union.

But also you pointed out gaps in our

service, particularly within Clubs and

Societies, indicating that we need to

focus on this by reviewing staffing

levels, Clubs and Societies funding and

processes within this area.




Clubs and Societies, Enterprise SU and

Volunteer SU running programmes,

events and activities that enhance

your employability prospects, develop

your skills, build networks and boost

your confidence, making you better

prepared for the world of work.


Volunteering opportunities, which provide

an environment for you to develop your

social conscience and political awareness,

and to become an active citizen.


Provision of internships, placements and

jobs within the Students’ Union.



Provide excellent volunteering opportunities

and experiences to all students ensuring our

membership makes a positive contribution within

local, national and international communities.

Appropriately resource Volunteer SU so it

continues to provide outstanding volunteering

experiences as well as making a positive

contribution to wider society.

10% increase in students participating in

volunteering to over 5,500 students by 2020.

Connections with over 300 external volunteer

involving organisations by 2018.

Increase the volume of volunteering

opportunities with an emphasis on the

development of student-led activity.

Appropriate support provided for student-led

volunteering initiatives.

Provide our students with CV enhancing skills,

accreditations, recognition schemes and


The Union recognised as ‘adding value’ to the

student experience.

Internal and external student accreditation

opportunities provided annually.

Work in partnership with Queen’s Careers and

Employability department to provide students

with access to employers and employment

opportunities, linking the work of Enterprise SU

to improve future employment opportunities.

Students provided with more exposure to


Promote innovative student enterprise

programmes by continuing to develop

and improve the range of initiatives run by

Enterprise SU.

5% increase, year on year, in the number of

students engaging in a range of enterprise

programmes and initiatives.

Improved student employability and enterprise

skills and increased exposure to business

support initiatives through InvestNI, Belfast City

Council and the Northern Ireland Science Park.

In addition to the Enterprise SU activity run in

the Students’ Union we will work with Schools

to further extend our support in developing

student enterprise and entrepreneurship skills.

Increased numbers of Schools engaging in

entrepreneurial activity for students.

Prepare students to be future socially responsible

leaders through delivery of programmes focusing

on developing leadership skills.

Extension secured of the Inspiring Leaders

Programme beyond 2017.

Provide advice and administrative support to a

growing number of Clubs and Societies.

Appropriate staffing resource in place to

support our Clubs and Societies.

Clubs and Societies supported to ensure that

they continue to make a significant contribution

to the lives of our students.

Increased funding for Clubs and Societies

to improve facilities and the programme of

activities delivered by these student groups.

Review the Clubs and Societies Finance Office


Effective and efficient financial processes

in place.

Students’ skills and experiences enhanced

through annual extra-curricular activities,

internships and work experience.

Work experience provided within the Union

ranging from part-time jobs to placements

and internships enhancing skills and

experiences of students.


provide the



drives us




inspired by you

This Strategic Plan is ambitious. Your goals for your university education

and your career beyond provide the inspiration and motivation that drives us.

To succeed in that aspiration, we’ve identified a framework of five elements

we believe we need to have in place to help us achieve our strategic goals.




Our people are crucial to

what we do and how we do it

Despite challenging times, our staff

and Student Officers have continued

to deliver high levels of satisfaction

for students and are key to delivering

our strategic goals over the next five

years. We will continue to provide an

environment for our staff that allows

them to utilise their skills and where they

feel motivated, valued and supported.

As part of our new strategic direction,

we will also continue to seek funding

from the University to appropriately

resource areas that you have identified

as needing additional resource.




A sense of place and a

space to call your own

As stated earlier in this document, we

are currently working in partnership

with the University to investigate the

possibility of developing a new stateof-the-art

Students’ Union, to be built

upon the existing site. This proposal

is very much in the early stages, but

regardless of the outcome of these

discussions, we are committed to

ensuring that your Union provides

you with a sense of place and a space

to call your own, in a welcoming and

fun environment, while enhancing the

overall student experience at Queen’s.




Fundamental to supporting

students to lead the Union

The independent review carried out by the National Union of Students (NUS) has

shown that the governance structure of a Union is fundamental to supporting

its students to lead the Union. This is something that we will need to consider in

order to become a more effective ‘critical friend’ to the University, and help the

University to realise its own strategic vision. Our governance structures need to

support our democratic principles, ensuring they are relevant to our students. We

also need to be flexible, not afraid of change and willing to take risks.



to lead

the union


ready to

address the





vibrant and sustainable

to meet future needs

Over the next five years we are committed to improving our financial

sustainability, as well as ensuring that funding is invested in the right areas

of the Union’s activities, in line with planned development and to assist the

University in achieving Vision 2020. Our financial strategy will ensure that the SU

is vibrant and sustainable to meet future needs, as well as having the flexibility

to be innovative in meeting our aspirations. This will be supported by effective

and efficient financial systems, designed to meet the needs of all users.




clearly, constantly,


We recognise that communication is

critical to our SU, particularly given the

size and diversity of our membership

base and the many stakeholders we

work with. Consulting with large and

diverse membership and stakeholder

groups whilst developing this Plan has

taught us that we need to communicate

clearly and consistently, while also

listening to our members and others.

We are committed to building channels

for you to express your thoughts, ideas

and concerns, assisting us on focusing

on what matters most to you.




This Strategic Plan will not only be measured against our outputs,

the things that we do, but also on the impact that we have on

your experience of University life here at Queen’s.

We will develop an annual action plan, including objectives and key

performance indicators, so you can monitor and assess our progress. We

will consult with you annually to confirm that we are on the right track and

to ensure that we are having a positive impact on the student experience.

In addition, the Union’s Management Board will formally monitor

our progress on a regular basis. The Strategy will need to be flexible,

particularly with the exciting possibility of a new build on the horizon.

We're ready to address the issues,

opportunities and challenges outlined within

this Plan - and we'll do so with energy,

passion and commitment. We hope you'll join us.

with you

for you




77–79 University Road



Northern Ireland

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