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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

The world of Student and Academic Administration

The Student and Academic Administration team (SAA) deliver the range of services which support students’ learning and life experiences. The SAA team across the University has undergone major restructure over the last twelve months in line with the University restructure from 21 Schools into 8 Faculties.

As you may know the University Executive Group charged the SAA workstream with making cost cuts of £2.6 million. The SAA is a very large workstream and it was recognised that the way we work would have to change in order to achieve the overall savings. The Faculty Operating Officers (FOOs) and Pat Usher (Director of SAA) proposed organisational designs that would generate initial cuts of £1.75 million. In order to play our part in contributing to the total SAA cost cuts the Health Sciences SAA team was reduced. SAA are now expected to implement standard approaches across the University so that we can identify how further cuts can be made to reach the total cut of £2.6 million. We identified that we need to ensure all our processes are effective, efficient, affordable and resilient, and that we need to adopt the principles and practices of ‘Lean' Higher Education, eliminating any waste and reducing single points of failure.

The teams in the other seven Faculties have put into place what we did in Health Sciences in 2009, i.e. clustered staff to support specific functions across disciplines. Gone are the days when a Programme Administrator dealt with the student lifecycle administration of one or more programmes. Each Faculty now has a SAA team to deal with the administration of the student lifecycle from enquiry to graduation. The SAA team is centrally managed by our colleagues in the Hub so each Faculty and the Hub has a Recruitment and Admissions, Curriculum and Quality Assurance, Assessment and Student Administration team. Where appropriate Faculties also have a Placement team.

Just before Christmas 2010 Faculty Education Managers (FEMs) were appointed in each Faculty. Briony Thomson is the FEM for Health Sciences. The main purpose of this role is to manage the SAA team and to link service delivery to the Faculty’s educational plans which are led by the Associate Dean for Education. Hub Managers were also appointed. The first task of the FEMs and Hub Managers has been to put the SAA teams in place, migrate staff into their new roles, ensure appropriate knowledge transfer took place and map processes so that they flowed across the workstream. Although the SAA structure in Health Sciences did not change, we too migrated staff and re-mapped processes due to the staff cuts in the team. While this was going on staff were invited to apply for voluntary severance in order to meet the cuts which each Faculty had to make in staffing costs. The eventual outcome of voluntary severance, retirements and promotions across the workstream was that approximately 60 MSA staff were successfully recruited across the workstream in one mammoth and exhausting day in June this year.

Teams are now in place across the Faculties and the Hub. FEMs and Hub Managers meet regularly. Functional team networks have been set up across the Faculties and the Hub so that, for example, representatives from all 8 Recruitment and Admissions teams and the Hub team meet to exchange information and plan for the future. We have regarded 2010/11 as ‘Transition’ year. 2011/12 is ‘Implementation’ year. You will notice that in Health Sciences the Faculty Office is now the ‘Student Office’ and its opening hours from the start of term will be 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m., Monday to Friday. Each functional team in the Faculty now has a generic email address. The ‘Student Records’ team is now called the ‘Student Administration’ team. The ‘PAQ’ team is now ‘CQ&T’: Curriculum, Quality and Timetabling. They have moved to level 3, building 67. All the Health Sciences SAA team is together on level 3, building 67 apart from the Recruitment & Admissions team which is on level 2, building 67. Signage has changed a little. All of these changes contribute to the ‘one team, shared service, locally delivered’ approach of the SAA team across the University.

The SAA team in Health Sciences continue to look at ways of streamlining what we do in order to be as efficient and effective as possible and to contribute to the cost cuts that the workstream needs to make. We are hoping that the implementation of a range of e-resources will help us with this in the future. Meanwhile we have been supporting the other Faculties in their transition by networking, giving advice and mentoring.

We now have the Institutional Review to work towards in 2011/12 and this will provide us with another opportunity for self-evaluation. Other projects we are involved in are the Post Graduate Provision review, e-Assignment and Sharepoint, amongst others.

During 2011/12 we will continue to strive to produce high quality administrative support for the academic life of our students, and we look forward to working with you to help us achieve that.

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