I’m often asked to give examples of services London Higher can provide for all our diverse HEI members, and which without London Higher would not be picked up elsewhere. So for my blog this week here’s a recent ‘real-life’ case.
A member HEI contacted us because they were concerned about costs being incurred from the local fire brigade for ‘false call outs’. This was a new one on us – and the HEI concerned was not aware of discussions elsewhere about this.
In a situation like this, we try to identify the extent to which the flagged issue is one of interest and/or concern to others in our member group. Sometimes the best way forward may be to convene a discussion and bring all (or a sub-cluster) of members together – whether face to face or ‘virtually’. Or we might run a member survey. This is what happened in the case of the ‘fire brigade false call-outs’.
We always endeavour to keep such surveys as short and as simple as possible – no-one wants to spend time trawling through 20 questions let alone 120! Hence we try hard to get the questions we ask right. The next step is of course to issue the survey, alongside a note of explanation, and ask our members to respond. We decide who it would be best to target within the HEIs in order for us to obtain a maximum response. Often as CEO I write to the heads of member HEIs, with a request to pass the request on to the most appropriate person for response. I may copy this to a second individual London Higher contact within the institution. We might additionally ask relevant networks to circulate it to their associates on our behalf. AUDE London and AUCSO London helped us in this instance.
When the survey period has ended a London Higher colleague will collate and analyse all responses, looking for common threads and ‘stand out’ points. A decision will then be taken about what moves might – or might not – be appropriate on our part. At the least we always circulate an analysis of survey responses to our members, and we apprise them of any proposed actions.
Sometimes, again as in this example, the survey responses indicated the issue is not one of concern to more than one or two members. Hence London Higher does not need to ‘get involved’. However it doesn’t mean we cannot assist. For example, we might identify a few members who have encountered similar issues in the past, but have developed what seems a good approach to tackle them. Hence we can link up people in those HEIs with the person who raised their current concern with us, thereby enabling sharing of experiences.
It all sounds very simple doesn’t it? Yet our members find it very useful to know that London Higher is willing and able to provide this sort of facility. And they trust us to manage any process with all due diligence. As long as the service is valued then we will continue to offer it. And, if London Higher wasn’t around to do this sort of work, there’s no other body readily able to step in.