UK student services professionals are gathering this week in Glasgow for the AMOSSHE Annual Conference.

AMOSSHE informs and supports the leaders of student services in the UK to represent, advocate for, and promote the student experience worldwide.

The first day of the conference, I will be moderating a panel session debating the proposition, “Can academic and student services staff get along?”

Joining the debate includes a brilliant panel with a range of perspectives:

The debate examines how academic and student services staff can collaborate effectively to support students, including:

  • What academic and student services staff should expect from one another.
  • The best practices for cross-functional collaboration.
  • The role technology plays to foster cooperation.

Our aim in the session, in line with the theme of the conference, Breaking Boundaries, is to encourage people to rethink assumptions about cultural resistance to cooperation and plan an effective model to support the entire student population. At the risk of too many metaphors, it is our belief that success is achieved by not only breaking boundaries, but building bridges.

On many attendee’s minds will be the Higher Education and Research Bill. Regardless of its uncertain progress, the policy direction is clear: A shift toward funding frameworks that elevates the position of student choice and teaching.  

The increased focus will be a double-edged sword for those in student services, and I look forward to discussing this at the AMOSSHE Annual Conference. From one perspective, leaders will see an increased recognition of their crucial role. Yet, the leaders will be under more pressure at an institutional level to change operations to optimise, and in many cases sustain, revenue.

At Hobsons, we believe that for too long we have been thinking too much about what is best for institutions and too little about what is best for students. We have been talking about marketing instead of matching.  Recruiting instead of finding the best fit for students and institutions. Admissions and retention instead of student advising and student success.

While this policy direction is at its very earliest stages, we need to extend our thinking at an institutional level from attracting students to keeping them.  Retention and non-completion are too often seen as a challenge only for recruitment or lower tariff institutions. This is not the case and is why Hobsons prefers student success. Our shared goal should be to support all students who start on a higher education path to succeed.  We will only do this if we break boundaries and build bridges between academic and student services.

If you’re planning to attend the conference 6-9 July, we hope you’ll come and say “hi,” and introduce yourselves. We’d love to meet with you and learn more about how we can support you in your everyday work.

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