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Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis to Participate in OurSay Forum

31 October 2012

Students will get the chance to grill their Vice Chancellor and other key university decision makers in a forum project run by online engagement group OurSay.

 The University of Melbourne Student Union and Vice Chancellor’s Office have accepted invitations to take part in the project. From 14 September students have been invited to post questions about university processes on OurSay.org. Those who become members of the site will then be given seven votes to endorse other user questions that interest them. The most popular issues will frame an open forum featuring Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis, the current UMSU Education (Academic Affairs) Officer and 2013 President-elect Kara Hadgraft, and Higher Education studies Professor Simon Marginson.

OurSay, which rates and poses ‘top voted’ questions to public figures, pitched the project to the University earlier this year. The group’s interest in Melbourne Uni sprung from the lack of opportunities students have to connect with the key players influencing their lives on campus. “Lots of students go through their degree feeling like they don’t have any control over the direction their life is heading—this forum’s trying to change that,” explained spokesperson Paul Millar.

“University is a time when people are really starting to develop their passions and are looking for causes to get involved with. What we want to do with this forum is give those students a tangible way of directing that passion towards an issue that affects them on a deeply personal level.”

Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis told Farrago that he accepted OurSay’s invitation in hopes of hearing questions that are of interest to large numbers of students. “It seemed like a good opportunity to converse with a broader group of students than I am able to come into contact with regularly,” he said.

The project is the latest in a string of moves by the University to boost student consultation via social media. While Facebook and Twitter have become the go-to for events like O-week and Open Day, the Vice-Chancellor is also in possession of a newly launched blog, the VC Open Line. “Social media is happening organically at every level of the University,” Davis told Farrago. “Staff, students, alumni and members of the wider community can ask me questions. It is pleasing to hear from interested parties who I may not otherwise meet—I encourage students to submit questions to the blog and I will do my best to provide a thoughtful response.”

For those wanting to address senior staff face to face, the forum grants a rare opportunity to get answers in person. Those who wish to pose questions have until 19 October to post and vote form for their favourites. Topics can include anything that has had an effect on their university experiences. “I think it will be interesting to see how student attitudes towards the controversial curriculum reforms have changed,” Millar said. “Fees, discontinued subjects, tutorial sizes, lack of representation on campus—factors that affect the entire university are going to get a showing.”

The response panel discussion is set for 24 October at 5:30pm.


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