Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Educational Experience Revolution!

The Secret Life of a PhD Student  

I’ve teamed up with the Herts Success team to deliver to you guys two networking events called The Secret Life of a PhD Student. A chance for you to come and meet the uni’s PhD students and ask anything you might want to know about becoming a student forever.  The opportunity to become an academic is open to all – so come along and get to know how you can start the journey 🙂  
Date and times:

26th of February on College Lane the Oval Cafe 1-3pm

Printing credit  

The conversation with UH management regarding the need for free printing credit goes something like this: 

Zaina: Students pay a lot to be here so they shouldn’t be paying extra course costs like printing  

UH: do you have evidence that students feel this way? 

Zaina: Yeah, HertsEmpowerment 100+ petition signs... value for money survey... student rep forum... all show loads of students think the uni should be covering their printing 

UH: Giving them printing credit could cost £50,000 a year – what should the university cut in funding to be able to cover this cost?

Zaina: obviously I am never going to say services that are directly student-facing should be cut, but I don’t know what money is going into stuff which students are unlikely to ever see the benefit of to tell you that money should be reallocated to printing service  

UH: you should look at how we spend money to advise what we should cut to cover printing  

Zaina: you're employed to run the university, not me, I'm here to tell you what student want to see their tuition fees spent on. And I’m tell you it is their printing, at least £5 a year, to supplement their learning since students are ultimately here for an education     

UH: ok, we will see how we can prioritize library service in our budget planning 

Some weeks later 

Zaina: what's the update on printing credit? 

UH: didn’t you say you're going to tell us what you want to see cut for us to give printing credit? 

Zaina: ??????????????????????????????? 

So, yeah, the fight continues. 


Almost 2,500 of you awesome people filled out my survey on timetables – thanks so much!!!!! It's really helped me gain an insight on what you want to see on your timetables. The main points that came out is the great inconvenience (and potentially severe stress) of timetables being inaccurate upon first release. The great inconvenience of long gaps (which I assumed previously but it's great to have this data to back it up!) . And students believing they should have at least one day off, without it necessarily having to be a Wednesday/ Wednesday afternoon. Timetables is a big priority for the university right now so I know this feedback will be really influential. Positive change is coming guys 🙂  

Autism Awareness in Higher Education
2 April 2019 is World Autism Awareness Day. For the Autism Awareness campaign at UH I have found three brilliant Best Practice guides written by researcher Dr Marc Fabri from Leeds Beckett University, who led the “Autism & Uni” project ( One guide is aimed at HEI managers and senior academics, one for lecturers and tutors, and one for professionals supporting autistic students within or outside HE Institutions, so for example disability services.
The Autism&Uni project ran for 3 years until 2016 and was funded by an EU grant. The main project aim was to help autistic students navigate the transition from school into university. Project partners came from 5 European countries and they all worked together to create the guides and also a toolkit for autistic students.
The guides are all very informative on the student experience of an individual on the spectrum, provide a lot of personal quotes expressed by individuals with autism, include great tips on how they can be better catered for at a HE institution, all packed up in a very readable layout and language.
The guides are available online in several languages and have been downloaded thousands of times. By printing our own copies at UH I plan to circulate the guides to relevant staff members so they gain a better understanding of students on the spectrum. I particularly look forward to circulating the guide for lecturers/teachers since I am proposing that each teaching department holds a “Learning and Teaching Coffee Time” and discuss what they’ve learnt from the guides and how they can embed this awareness in their own teaching practice. I'm so glad to have so many positive responses from staff members on this campaign already, and I am really looking forward to see it come to life :)  
The Autism&Uni project is now officially completed, and Dr Marc Fabri is working on a new initiative called IMAGE which looks at the transition from university into employment ( It’s kind of the next logical step and it’s a really important one because autistic graduates can find it really hard to get a job after university.

Thank you for reading! Feel free to contact me on 
See ya :D

Thursday, December 20, 2018

December: wrapping up

Success! I am very pleased to tell you guys that my manifesto point "7) Study room booking to include information about the facilities and space available in each room available for booking" has been achieved! Big thanks to the staff in Library Service, there has been additional info on the room booking site as you can see here:

I hope this will help get you your perfect room :)

Trans inclusivity in Health and Social Work courses
Programme leads in the nursing and social work degree courses requested i send them resources to guide my request that their curriculum include content on an understanding of gender-varying people and the support they may require from professions such as nursing or social workers. I have done extensive research into this and informed them more specifically on how their courses can prepare students to understand gender-varying individuals.
Printing credit 

I campaigned strongly to the Vice Chancellor for an annual £5 printing credit for every student - since I believe this is a reasonable average of the printing credit demand among students having gathered so much feedback on the issue. The VC promised to prioritize Library Services when reviewing university budgets. I will chase up on that in January.

I have also been working on the schedules and marketing materials of these events for 2019:

Debate Club

The Secret life of a PhD Student

World Hijab Day

STAG Awards

Merry Xmas and happy end of Semester A! We did it! Woohoo!

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Friday, November 30, 2018

November - Planning Ahead

Hey there – looking forward to the Christmas break? I can't stop thinking that its almost 2020 – so weird!  
This month I’ve been organising my work-focus timeline so I can be more efficient on what i want to achieve during the rest of my sabbatical year. This is my timeline: 

Printing credit:  
Got 70 signs on my petition for an annual student printing credit so far and I plan to combine that data with the student comments, some research on value for money regarding tuition fees, and a proposal for annual printing credit based on all the research – to be presented to UH senior management soon!  

Room booking on studynet 
I have reviewed all the rooms available to book on the study room booking site on studynet and drew up this chart based on my findings: 

I sent it over to the people that run studynet and asked if this image could be included on the room booking site on studynet, so you can book the perfect room for your group study needs by knowing what is available in the rooms. I also asked if we can provide white board pens for students to borrowThey said they will be in touch with me 😀         

Publish and promote the timetables survey so the uni can know what style of timetables you guys want. 

Trans-gender inclusivity for social and healthcare degrees at UH:  
The staff in the School of Health and Social care have been so responsive and on board with my suggestion that our nursing and social work degrees should educate on the service and understanding required for trans individuals. They have told me to send them resources which would guide the addition to what they teach in regard to inclusive practice as a nurse/social worker, so I need to do that. I realized this is not a job to be left until the last hour of a working day. I want to go back to the department with a streamlined and relevant set of resources which they can embed into their teaching - I hope I can achieve this.      

Do whatever I didn’t finish in December. Be around at refreshers. Make another “How your modules turn into an overall degree grade” diagram which can sufficiently cover all degree cases. 

February (campaigns and events!) 
I have been working on a week-long set of activities for the first week of February in celebration of World Hijab Day (February the 1st). The focus is on promoting discussions around intersectional feminism, integration of BAME women students in HE, open dialogue about Islamic practices between Muslims and non-Muslims and generally having fun on campus with a positive campaign :) 

Also, I am planning a network event for undergrads and master's students to get to know PhD students so that they can learn how to get into academia and what that student experience is like 🙂 I think the uni could do more in encouraging students to do further study courses and I want to contribute to that 🙂 

STAG Awards. I need to get the right branding ready for the Student-led Teaching Achievement Gold Awards and decide on all the award titles available for nominations 😀 So excited! 

Also, I have been working on expanding the Autism Awareness Week campaign (first week of April) with loads of fun, creative and educational activities - the staff support for this has been AMAZING and I believe we are planning for a very effective and impactful week for Autism Awareness :) 

Year long: 

The Debate Club has turned into a twice a week occurrence, as the committee of the Philosophy Society has approached me to joint organise with them a debate every Wednesday on a topic that is being covered by Philosophy students that week. So far we have covered mind-body dualism and the politics of firearms, as you can see here: 

The PhilSoc debates have been cool and I hope they are benefiting the philosophy students' studies. 
The traditional Thursday debates have been getting better and better! I really enjoyed the discussions and how fiery they got this month! Looking forward to the December debates 🙂  see you there! 

Until next time, take care,  
Zaina Hakim 
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July: Football may not be coming home but the STAG is

Hi g uys! Just finished m onth two as your VP and I would like to tell you how  it  ha s  been.    First of  all ,  let me  clarify ...