This report provides an overview of students’ priorities and perceived service gaps for consideration in the development of the Thompson Rivers University Budget 2016/17.

In 2014, the Thomson Rivers University Students’ Union was pleased to work with Vice President Administration and Finance to develop a means to ensure proactive and meaningful consideration of students’ interests as part of the new budget methodology. To that end, a Student Budget Consultation process was established to identify priorities and perceived service gaps for consideration in the development of unit-based service plans and budget requests.

Methodology

This year, the budget priorities and service expectations were developed through a two-stage consultation. A comprehensive survey served to scan student opinions of and priorities amongst an inclusive inventory of experiences, and a series of roving campus Town Halls served to investigate three key priorities in depth.

Survey

An online survey of students was administered between February 13 and March 7, 2015. The profile of the 301 respondents closely resembles the student population. The survey used two indicators of students’ priorities. First, respondents provided satisfaction and importance ratings for each of a comprehensive series of items. A gap analysis – i.e. where the importance assigned was greater than satisfaction – flagged items for action. Students were then directly asked for their top three priorities amongst five categories of items, and for one specific item of importance within each of their selected priority categories. The top three items were validated through comparison to the gap analysis.

Town Halls

A series of “Town Halls” held across campus on March 17, 18, and 19, 2015, solicited written comments on each of the three top priorities identified in the survey. A total of 732 responses were received. The data were analyzed using a grounded theory approach. A process of coding based on a close reading of each comment lead to the development of concepts that were then grouped thematically.

Key Priorities

The Student Budget Consultation 2016/17 identified three priorities: course offerings, academic advising, and parking. The following presents, for each priority, its prioritization in the survey and themes from students’ in depth comments. To download a copy of the full Report on the Student Budget Consultation 2016/17, click here.

Priority 1: Course Offerings

Respondents were asked, “If you were in charge of TRU, what would your top three priorities for improvement be?” Among those who prioritized educational programming, a majority selected course offering from a list of nine items as a “specific area that is important to you”.

In the town halls students identified a lack of courses and a series of five concerns addressing systematic course delivery including:

  • frequency of offerings,
  • a lack of summer course offerings,
  • scheduling conflicts,
  • lack of capacity,
  • and course changes and cancellations.

For further explanation of the areas of concern download a copy of the full submission to the Budget Committee of Senate here.

Priority 2: Academic Advising

Respondents were asked, “If you were in charge of TRU, what would your top three priorities for improvement be?” and a weighted total of responses placed academic services as the second highest priority for students. Among those who prioritized academic services, a large plurality (42% weighted by priority) selected academic advising from a list of fourteen items as “a specific area that is important to you”.

In the town halls students identified four key areas of concern with academic advising:

  • a lack of accessibility and capacity,
  • a lack of service continuity,
  • inaccuracy,
  • and a poor service relationship.

Importantly, a substantial group of respondents expressed satisfaction or better with their advising experiences.

For further explanation of the specific areas of concern download a copy of the Report on the Student Budget Consultation 2016/2017 here.

Priority 3: Parking

Survey respondents were asked, “If you were in charge of TRU, what would your top three priorities for improvement be?” and a weighted total of priorities placed campus facilities and services as the third highest priority for students. Among those who prioritized campus facilities and services, a plurality (28% weighted by priority) selected parking from a list of eleven items as “a specific area that is important to you”.

The overwhelming message delivered in Town Halls regarding parking was displeasure with price. Amongst the widespread objections and calls for reductions, students identified six more nuanced concerns with parking:

  • unaffordability,
  • poor value and use of revenue,
  • a need for space and demand management,
  • a lack of rate options and value,
  • and a lack of transportation choices.

For further explanation of the areas of concern download a copy of the Report on the Student Budget Consultation 2016/2017 here.

Recommendations

The Thompson Rivers University Students’ Union requests that the following priorities and service improvements be considered in the development of relevant administration and academic unit service plans and requests for the Thompson Rivers University Budget 2016/17:

  1. Course Offerings:
    Students request and look forward to service plans and the allocation of resources that ensure that courses are offered in a transparent, sufficiently frequent, and reliable manner throughout all three semesters; that is coherent with program progression; and that facilities effective student course planning.
  2. Academic Advising
    Students request and look forward to service plans and the allocation of resources to comprehensively and fundamentally review the provision of academic advising services.
  3. Parking
    Students request and look forward to services plans and the allocation of resources to improve affordability, value, space and demand management, and the flexibility of rate options.

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