News Article

Transforming the RHUL Students’ Union Advice Centre – from student voice to student champions

RHUL Students' Union advice centre hub on their website

RHUL Students' Union logoMarch 2021 - From using a shared, university-owned ticketing system, to driving a digital communications strategy, managing a 250% increase in cases and growing the team during a pandemic, the Advice Centre at the Royal Holloway University London Students’ Union has come far in the two years since it implemented MSL’s Student Case Manager system.

Royal Holloway University London Students’ Union has always seen the provision of advice services to its student members as a priority, with full time staff, its own dedicated space in the Students’ Union building and trained triage staff at the main helpdesk. But for many years, the Advice Centre made use of the shared University ticketing system to record cases and, whilst this solution proved valuable as the Students’ Union moved more services to a digital environment, it became clear that this system couldn’t provide the secure, standalone case management system that the advice team needed.

Recognising the growing importance of advice services

The Royal Holloway University London Students' Union advice centre pages on the websiteAs the demand from students for advice and advocacy support increased, the Students’ Union took the decision to make the Advice Centre an operational unit in its own right; historically it had been a part of the Student Voice department with very little interaction with other Union activities. To support this greater autonomy, in 2018 a project got underway to find a case management system that would be completely separate to the University, which the Advice Centre would own and have direct responsibility for and would fit their budget.

As an existing user of the MSL System from Membership Solutions Ltd (MSL), the advice team’s first step was to look at the benefits MSL’s Student Case Manager could bring.

The team had some simple requirements – we needed to be able to securely log enquiry details against individuals and to produce monthly reports on these interactions. We knew the Student Case Manager system had been developed for the student advice sector and that it would help us manage our case work and of course benefit the growing number of students needing our support - Serife Tumburi, Advice Centre Manager, Royal Holloway University London Students’ Union

Identifying trends and informing policy

Royal Holloway University Students' Union advice articles and contact optionsOver the summer of 2018, Student Case Manager was implemented and configured to meet the existing requirements of the advisors and manager.

It quickly became apparent that the reporting alone would transform the team’s ability to identify trends, flag areas of urgent concern and so contribute far more significantly to the Students’ Union’s day to day working.

The Advice Centre Manager now has a fortnightly meeting with sabbatical officers to highlight issues that should be taken to the University for a rapid response and the Centre’s monthly reporting contributes to the Union’s social policy meetings.

Searchable database of advice articles and contentAn unforeseen benefit of the granular reporting available in Student Case Manager is that it drives the new digital communication strategy developed and managed by the Advice Centre Manager. The trends identified, tied in with activities in the academic calendar, trigger advice articles created for the Union website. This content is given priority home page space so students can quickly reach the information they need and any signposting to University or other external support providers. The Advice Centre also has its own area of the website with a searchable database of articles and sources of advice.

The wider impact of a dedicated digital case management system

Student Case Manager and the communications plan it informs has had a huge impact on enquiries coming into the Advice Centre. In the few years since the system was implemented, case numbers have increased by up to 250% as students have become aware of the support that is available to them. Indeed, universities and students’ unions across the southern region of the UK have all seen a huge growth in demand for advice services and the advice centre is now considered an essential service.

The Advice Centre now records as part of its monthly case reporting the associated articles we create and publish on the website and the page views each one gets. It really demonstrates how effective timely information can be for our students who might otherwise struggle with an issue and not know where to go for help - Serife Tumburi, Advice Centre Manager

For the 2020-21 academic year, the impact of Covid cannot be ignored and unsurprisingly it has played its part in a change of case types; Student Case Manager has recorded up to 50% increase in cases related to accommodation complaints as students spend the majority of time in their houses or halls. And for those who haven’t been able to take up their accommodation, the advice team has achieved 100% success with deposit dispute cases.

This intelligence has driven new content for the communications plan to inform students before they encounter a problem and has been the catalyst for a new series of online drop-in sessions that the advice team runs twice a week. In lieu of in person visits to the Advice Centre, the team hosts two-hour drop-in sessions via Zoom which regularly see between five and ten students joining, in addition to between five and fifteen individual appointments per week .

As Covid has impacted all areas of the Students’ Union operational staff, the Advice Centre has been able to maintain levels of staffing to manage fluctuating workload. By using case number reporting in Student Case Manager, the manager has identified when staff should come off furlough and also successfully made the case for additional staff, enabling their previously helpdesk-based triage staff member to return to work as part of the advice team.

Comments

No comments have been made. Please log in to comment.
 
Back to News

Recent Articles

UCLan Students’ Union launches a new digital user experience with MSL’s support

Mon 12 Apr 2021

UCLan society page student content example

April 2021 - UCLan Students’ Union has always tried to offer lots of different ways to engage with their students as a union providing services and support to members on separate campuses in Preston and Burnley in Lancashire. Whilst digital engagement has been an integral part of the overall communications strategy, it wasn’t until the Union embarked upon user experience research in 2020 that they understood exactly what their students were looking for from the union’s website.

Club Content management Digital election employability representation Skills societies Student voice UCLan University of Central Lancashire User experience volunteering

 
ANU Students' Association forges ahead with a digital-first engagement strategy

Thu 11 Mar 2021

ANUSA home page banner for clubs

March 2021 - The Australian National University Students’ Association first chose the MSL System to underpin its burgeoning digital engagement requirements. The digital transformation had started back in 2016 when MSL Elections was used to run online voting for the first time - a move which resulted in the highest number of votes placed and posts filled for five years. Encouraged by their members’ enthusiasm for participating online, the decision was made to implement the core MSL System.

ANUSA Association Australia Australian National University Club Democracy Digital election event Finance Grant O week Society Student groups support Transformation

 
Heriot-Watt University Dubai Student Council launches first website for students in the UAE

Thu 25 Mar 2021

Heriot-Watt Dubai Student Council website home page banner

March 2021 - In 2020, the Heriot-Watt University Dubai Student Council chose to launch their brand new digital presence with MSL, the largest provider of digital student engagement solutions in the UK, Australia and Ireland.

“The new website and our digital resources puts us at the forefront of student engagement across the UAE and reinforces the importance of ensuring students have a positive student experience alongside the studies.” - Soehl Abraham, Student President

Dubai events Heriot-Watt Leadership Skills Student council Student experience UAE United Arab Emirates volunteering

 
 

News

?

Support

Need help? See our Knowledge Base