The first part of the Student and Academic Services Review (SASR) is nearing completion. The SASR is the first major survey of UCD’s support services since 2005. It is being carried out by the SASR Steering Group, chaired by Mark Rogers, the Registrar. The first phases of the review, titled As-Is, was agreed by the University Management Team in December 2017. The Steering Group gave an update in the 27th February, which was then presented to the UMT in March.

The February updates noted that the group was looking at the ‘as is’ findings which will lead into the work of the ‘to be’ phase. There will be recommendations put out for consultation, before the Steering Group makes its final set of recommendations to the UMT, who will decide on what changes to make.

118 staff, students and academics were consulted about the current system. Academic staff think the existing structure worked well but the student perspective is ‘mixed.’ It noted that students do not know where to go for different queries, that the service provided varies across the Colleges, with students often being sent from office to office with the same issue (‘office pinball’). Registry operates a service management model for student queries which logs and tracks request. However, no such system exists for staff, while most Colleges do not use this model.

One option is to introduce a common support model for staff and students, which could include ‘use of a ticketing system to record and track issues/queries with the ability to escalate tickets between support units, use of common processes for logging, tracking and reporting on queries and requests, and the introduction of a basic set of service metrics, i.e. number of issues/queries by category, response time etc.’

The Group noted other administrative issues. There has been a ‘significant rise in the number of extenuating circumstances applications and the process is described as ‘loose’, while individual programme offices have to contact the Conferring Unit to see who is graduating as they are not provided with that information.

The Group has asked the UMT for its opinion on a common support model and whether it should focus on designing ‘a ‘local services’ approach or develop the distributed services approach.’ The first approach focuses on letting Colleges and Programme offices handle student support issues, while the latter would let them deal with issues most relevant and connected to their experience. Any model would likely contain elements of both.

Cian Carton – Editor