Last weekend, the National Board of ESN UK gathered in London for the first Summer Meeting of our mandate. During this time all of the National Board members discussed the strategy and action plan for the network that we aim to implement throughout the course of the next academic year.
SUMMER MEETING - DEFINITION
Summer Meetings are a tradition in the ESN UK and it’s the one of the only times throughout the year when all National Board members physically meet all together in one place. These meetings are similar to National Platforms of ESN UK, and last 3 days. Each day is full of plenaries and brainstorming sessions that enable us to shape the network. This year, for the first time in ESN UK history, we will not only have a National Board Summer Meeting (NBSM), but also a National Level Summer Meeting (NLSM) that will involve entire national level of the network, i.e. National Board and National Board Support. Thus, we will be able to implement ideas and shape the network from the perspective of 14, not just 7 people.
This NBSM was focused on restructuring the network and change that must be implemented in the National Level of the network. We also created afundraising action plan, in order to enable ESN UK to reach its full potential. The full report will be sent out to all sections’ email addresses by the end of July, this will include: discussion briefs, action points, new policies and the 1-year strategy of ESN UK.
MAIN POINTS ON THE AGENDA:
ESN UK National Projects will be something that we aim to focus on this year. These projects will be coordinated at the national level and are designed to add value and visbility to the work that we do, and improve the study mobility experience for our students. Main projects discussed:
Employability: we aim to introduce employability events to the ESN calendar. These events will be hosted in the capital city of the United Kingdom where all students and ESNers will be able to network and gather some insi
ght into different professions outlined by our panel of guest speakers.
Study in the UK: a project that aims to promote all the opportunities to study in the UK, and encourage incoming student mobility.
Go Abroad: this project will try to facilitate the exchange opportunities British universities have on offer to their local students. The number of UK students taking part in mobility programmes is currently very low, this is something we strive to change in the future.
This year we will also put a great emphasis on the training of our volunteers and recognition for their hard work, both on the individual level and section level. Thus, we will be granting recognition certificates for our volunteers, specially designed to showcase the skills that they acheive during their ESN training. On the other hand, we will also be launching Section Awards – facilitated by our Network Committee – where we will be awarding sections for their hard work (full details will be distributed before the academic year).
Money was another important topic on our agenda, and we plan on gathering funds that will enable us to grow as a network. Moreover, with our Fundraising Committee Chair, we will be focusing on developing new offers for ESNcards in the UK: changes to come, watch this space!
(Full update on financial situation will be available for the National Platform only, due to the sensitive nature of this data)
The National Board have also identified the unsustainability of our National Platforms and the procedures surrounding them. Therefore, we will aim to restructure and change the way NPs are being run in the UK; moving towards a fixed location and creating a base for all ESN UK events. Consequently, we hope that this will lead to creation of ESN UK headquarters in the long-term perspective. Moreover, this year’s date of the first NP is likely to be moved till after 'Freshers'.
With this in mind, we will be focusing more on producing documents that enable our member’s self-development and independent learning in a more approachable format. This is crucial in order to maintain the high standard of our network. Thus, Network Manager, Network Committee Chair and the Network Committee will be distributing handbooks and documents to all section members, containing UK-specific training. Furthermore, we will be launching webinars prior to the Freshers’ week, in order to deliver e-training to all section members as well as a series of YouTube “how to…” videos.
Engagement with our stakeholders was also identified as an area for improvement. Hence, we will be launching new events organised and run by the National Board in order to increase our network’s recognition. Consequently, we will be launching a stakeholder’s conference this year for all Higher Education Institutions in the UK, during which we will advocate the importance of ESN's presence in the HE sector. This event will aim to engage representatives from universities across the country, the European Commission, British Council, British Youth Council, and the Department of Higher Education of the UK and consecutive Governments across the four nations of the United Kingdom.
This year we will be officially launching a clothing range for ESN members and exchange students in the UK. We will be working with our partner companies to offer fashionable and affordable merchandise to our network; something which we believe will add extra value and enhance our sense of community/belonging.
This year, the UK will also be actively expanding as a network, as agreed upon in the expansion policy of the National Board. With this in mind, we also aim to increase our minimum requirements, to come into line with the 5-year development strategy of ESN UK.
Lastly, the National Board agreed to introduce a Resignation Policy for the National Level of ESN UK, including both NB and NBS members. Should a national level member resign, we have outlined not only expectations of the outgoing colleague, but also a 6-week period, during which we will elect a successor and they will receive a full transtition into their new role. This policy is to mitigate any further disruptions to the network, following past events.
We believe this meeting was very fruitful, as it has enabled us to clarify our strategy and action points for the upcoming months of our mandate.
On behalf of the National Board, I would like to reassure every single volunteer involved in the network, that we will do everything in our power enact on our action plans for the year and help ESN UK progress to the best of its ability.
Now, we would like to wish all our members a good summer holiday, and we hope to see you all soon during our first National Platform.
On Behalf of ESN UK
ESN UK President