ASRA management meetings: behind the scenes

Karen Burke, Chair of ASRA, gives us an insight into what goes on behind the scenes

On a sunny June morning the ASRA Management Team set off from all corners of the UK and Ireland to a central location for the ASRA Committee meeting, which for many members of the team marked the first of their term. Opening the agenda was the Conference Sub Committee meeting, where we welcomed Sharon Jones from the University of Wolverhampton to her first meeting as incoming Training Officer. Other members of the Sub Committee are Jennie Mort (Sovereign Conferences) Conference Organiser, Tracey Garner ( University of Sheffield) Outgoing Treasurer, Lynn Wingate (Sanctuary Students) Events Officer and myself.

Our first agenda item was an exhaustive review of all delegate and exhibitor feedback from our 2018 Conference held in Birmingham in April.

It is critical to the ongoing development of ASRA, as a member-led organisation to ensure that this feedback continually improves and shapes future events. Having read numerous comments, for which we are very grateful to our members for providing, there have been several areas of training identified to develop at next year’s event. Sharon is off to a flying start, armed with a bursting file of topics, training providers and potential options for keynote speakers.

The Management meeting is also an opportunity to review our finances and balance the conference budget. Tracey now passes the baton to Lisette Metcalf from Middlesex University following an extensive handover period which will take us through to our AGM at ASRA 2019.

The team also used the meeting as an opportunity to say goodbye to our outgoing Regional Representatives and hello to our incoming team.

It is critical to the ongoing development of ASRA, as a member-led organisation to ensure that this feedback continually improves and shapes future events

ASRA has worked closely with Campus Life for several years and are progressing the development of the ASRA website via this partnership. The Management Committee had a specific training session led by Campus Life to talk the new members of the team through  the website, which has regular updates and content contributed. It was agreed that going forward, the site would feature a ‘Membership Spotlight’, highlighting areas of best practice, new developments, collaborations or simply projects to be proud of. Poppy Humphrey, (Manchester Student Homes) Communications Officer, will be kept busy monitoring the site and ensuring that content is regularly updated. We know from the volume of traffic sent via the ASRA JISC mail that there is an abundance of activity out there, and ASRA are keen to highlight this excellent work further.

Day two of our Committee schedule was ASRA’s business meeting, where we had key input from Alison Spencer (University of St Mark & St John, Plymouth, Secretary). Regional Representatives use the time to feedback on progress and key themes arising from regional meetings and highlight any training needs identified by our members. Reports on all aspects of ASRA management were be submitted, including Communications, Finance, Training, Events, Secretary and Chair. The time is also used to review and approve any new membership requests.

Further discussions took place around any emerging topics relating to student accommodation and the wider community.

I am aware that there are numerous associations relating to higher and further education institutions and partnerships within the sector. However, I personally think that it is really interesting to be kept informed of what goes on behind the scenes and lift the myths around exclusivity of such groups. I further believe that it is vital that we encourage our staff to keep to a watching brief and become involved in shaping the future, whether that is via involvement with ASRA or other organisations that your area of work links to.

For more information about the Association for Student Residential Accommodation (ASRA) and to meet the Management Committee Team, visit: www.asra.ac.uk