In May 2017 Helena McCaskie, Student Accommodation Coordinator and myself Karen McGinty, Student Accommodation Deputy Manager had the exciting opportunity to visit State University of New York Geneseo as part of the GALA programme. Our main objective for the trip was to better understand the American College experience in relation to the student’s accommodation and living environment. We found the staff to be extremely welcoming and engaging in helping us to achieve our objectives. Geneseo is a very small town University with similar student numbers to Bath Spa University. Whilst we found there were many similarities to how we and they operate in the accommodation office, we also found some interesting differences and took away some positive ideas which we hope to implement in our department.
We were also lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet a number of staff from different departments which we felt gave us a greater insight into the overall student experience. In particular we enjoyed meeting with the International Department where we obtained feedback gathered from their students who had taken part in an exchange at Bath Spa in relation to their accommodation. The information that we learnt from their feedback will help us in planning how we induct overseas students and gave us a greater understanding of what makes a positive or negative student experience through the eyes of the students. Working with the International Department also gave us a fun opportunity to chaperone a trip to Niagara Falls were we had the chance to spend more time with students and speak to them on a 1-1 basis or as small groups.
We would advocate anyone interested in applying for the GALA programme as we had a very positive experience and feel that professional staff in all departments could benefit from seeing how Universities abroad conduct their administration.