I joined the team in October 2013, when Liberal Arts and Sciences at Birmingham was in its infancy. When I say I joined the team, at that point it was only me, the Dean (Professor Cillian Ryan), and an academic lead from each of the Colleges. In the space of two years the project has grown exponentially: we now have two further professional services staff (an Operations Manager, and a Programme Administrator), in addition to an expanding academic team, and of course four times as many students! My hope is that this growth in our team shows in the quality and breadth of professional service that we deliver; not only through organising and putting together each students’ suite of modules and academic plan, but also reaching further into the student experience with a variety of cultural activities, social events and beyond.
My days consist of a variety of different projects, punctuated by student enquiries, meetings, phone-calls and all of the day-to-day ‘business as usual’ tasks (if there is such a thing as business as usual within LANS!) Thankfully at this point in the year I have moved on from the complexities of putting together 75 bespoke timetables, which is a relief for me, and I daresay for all those around me as well!
One of the main projects that I work on within my role is improving student experience. Student feedback and experience is at the heart of everything that we do within LANS, and we are always looking for ways to improve and excel in the service that we deliver. In terms of my role this means a variety of things. I’m involved in gathering feedback, whether from our informal house feedback lunches, personal tutee lunches or SSCs, and putting it together into a coherent structure, and then helping the programme respond to that feedback; for example, I spent a reasonable chunk of my summer remodelling our Canvas pages into the thing of beauty that they are today (!). I also lead on all welfare issues within the programme, complex as they are with all the different schools that each student is involved with, and play a key role in the face-to-face delivery of welfare support to individual students. Another area of responsibility, which greatly enriches the LAS student experience, is helping to plan and organise the wealth of events and trips that we run on a yearly basis.
Although life in academic administration can be stressful and trying at times, it’s also an extremely varied job, and I greatly enjoy the mixture of people and paperwork that it entails. It’s also a real privilege to work with such a bright and (generally) enthusiastic group of students, and feel that in a small way I’ve helped them to achieve their best. It almost makes all that timetabling worthwhile…
Ruth German, November 2015