Clubs and societies were the driver for improving our user experience. The student groups web pages are always the most visited on the SRC website with 7 or 8 new clubs a week wanting to affiliate. But the process we had to do this was very manual and based on forms – not very user friendly. We decided to ask for help from MSL as they already provide our advice centre system and so we were interested to see how they could help us reduce any barriers to participation with a new digital solution.
Streamlining processes to support student participation
The SRC’s online home for 10 years had been a Wordpress site. Whilst the website was information rich with lots of content for visitors looking for advice, clubs to join and volunteering opportunities to take part in, it lacked the tools to enable the SRC to really streamline their member engagement processes.
The events team used a separate system to promote, manage and sell tickets for events; the volunteering and employability team used another system to engage with opportunity providers and student volunteers; clubs and societies had another system to sell memberships and to bring together all the forms and financial processes needed; and the multi-skilled admin team had devised a number of manual processes to support everything else.
We had a mix and match approach to the technology available and this had worked for us up to a point. We knew we could do much more by bringing everything together in one solution and losing all the manual input the teams had. The MSL System offers us this as well as a new web presence and all the reporting we need on engagement and participation.
Building a new digital home
The move to a new digital solution had started with the advice service in 2017 when MSL’s Student Case Manager was implemented to support the busy information and representation service. The transition to an all-encompassing student engagement solution would focus on a new website bringing together resources for the student groups, volunteering and signposting content for the advice service following a huge upturn in students using the service.
The main challenges we faced were around the amount of content we wanted to bring into the new website. Holding weekly progress meetings with the team managing this digital project really helped and, as the project team included representation from all the different SRC areas transitioning to the new system, we ensured everything that was possible to migrate came across ready for the launch.
Supporting clubs, societies and their members
The student groups affiliation process was the main driver for the move to a new digital platform as it had been heavily reliant on manual data entry and forms. The new process will soon be completely online and, while clubs and societies are independent from the SRC as they can choose to have their own bank account or make use of the SRC’s, the new website and the digital resources available online have been enthusiastically received by student group committees. All the information they need to run their own finances and sell memberships is easily accessible as is the training and support the SRC offers to committee members.
Mandatory and optional training sessions are all available on the website with senior office bearers obligated to complete mandatory induction training. On completion, they gain access to more features within the MSL System which benefits their group and members. All the training events are promoted in the clubs and societies area including event sign ups which augment the SRC’s student engagement and participation reporting.
Training for other committee members is not mandatory – apart from the initial induction session - but for committees who are especially keen to develop their skills and grow their student group membership we encourage them to take advantage of website and club management training on the MSL System, as well as finance training and student wellbeing workshops.
Boosting skills and employability
Having all the services that the volunteering team offer in one platform really helps us support our volunteers. Once a volunteer registers online, they have their own profile to keep a record of their volunteering and log hours, training courses and skills acquired during their time at university. They also have access to the staff here to help them find suitable opportunities, even if they want to participate in something we don’t currently offer, we can help them
SRC Volunteering also has its own dedicated section on the new website and the team has made the most of their new digital home to promote events, such as the Volunteering Fair, activities, workshops and the many ways University of Glasgow students can volunteer their time. Using MSL Volunteering & Employability, the team is able to promote participation opportunities including community outreach with clubs and societies, the student media groups and Freshers Helpers as well as the opportunities advertised by external volunteering partners. Currently, SRC Volunteering staff manage admin on behalf of their partners but they will soon take advantage of the secure access the MSL System offers to providers so that they can add, update and view their opportunities and applicants directly.
A big part of the SRC Volunteering year is the Volunteering, Clubs & Societies Awards (VCS) where students are invited to nominate their peers in celebration of community or campus volunteering work, and the Saltire Awards, the Scottish Government accredited scheme which recognises and rewards volunteering commitment. Both awards make use of the participation data and volunteer profiles within the MSL System. Not only do volunteers work towards these awards but their logged hours and skills can be eligible for their Higher Education Achievement Report to demonstrate their personal and professional development alongside their studies.
Welcome to your new website!
In the first month following the launch of the new website and move to the MSL System, the SRC saw over 3,300 registrations on the website – a great achievement as at the time of the website launch single sign on was not in place.
As expected, most visits to the website were for the clubs and societies that University of Glasgow students support so well. The fully online affiliation process for student groups will be launched for the 22-23 academic year and clubs and societies will be able to sell memberships (paid for and free) directly from their web pages.
Campaigns and events are also instrumental in driving visitors to the website as the SRC team is able to reach more students with targeted content. Home page content and eye-catching banners promote activities related to liberation campaigns such as Black History Month, welfare campaigns offering support for example during Alcohol Awareness Month, clubs and societies events, the student media group’s own events for the student newspapers, TV and radio stations.
It made sense for the SRC team to look to MSL when we started a review of our digital processes. We knew the MSL System could support a variety of complex requirements from using Student Case Manager in our advice service and the fact that over 50% of university students in the UK use MSL supported services meant we were sure SRC members would benefit greatly from moving more of our services and support to a new digital home.