Thomas Ron, YUSU Academic Officer
In an enthusiastic and thought provoking presentation, Thomas Ron and Chris Wall from YUSU set out a masterplan for building lasting partnerships between academic societies and departments as a way to enhance the employability skills of students, and to more effectively tailor the careers support facilitated by the departments. Using case studies and video clips they showcased some ideas and approaches adopted by 4 societies (ArchSoc, MathsSoc, LawSoc and ShockSoc) with a view to enhancing this important relationship in all departments.
Key themes seemed to be:
Representation: It is useful if societies have a ‘place at the table’ in official committees, such as Board of Studies, or to have a dedicated staff contact. This allows them to work with departments at the planning stages of career support activities to make them the most effective. In the Law department such strategic alignment had enabled the society to receive funding from law firms.
Communication: As ‘students don’t read emails’, it is beneficial for departments to enlist the help of societies to communicate events through social media. For ArchSoc this had led to significantly increased student numbers at events.
Engagement: The partnership approach works best when the society is active and well respected by both the student cohort and the department. Both MathsSoc and ShockSoc had interesting and innovative methods to engage students in the societies and support students in all years of study, for example through mentoring schemes and subsidized membership.
During questions it was suggested that new staff should be made aware of the important role of societies as part of induction. It was also encouraged that departments and students should also consider informal social activities as a way to create and build lasting partnerships.
Jenny Gibbons, York Law School, University of York