Get Involved: Staff

The Connector Programme sees students and staff working as equal partners; learning, innovating and co-creating together to improve the student experience at Sussex.

Why collaborate with the Connector Programme?

Through partnering with students, staff gain a fresh, diverse and informed student perspective, as well as intrapreneurial, passionate and energetic new team members. This supports and pro-actively feeds into continuous improvement work. In addition, new initiatives are born that reflect student need; relationships between staff and students are strengthened and the wider student body becomes more engaged.

Read more about staff members’ experiences on the Connector Programme here.

Can I collaborate with the Connector Programme?

The Connector Programme intends to create a positive impact on the student experience, therefore we engage Connector teams to work on topics that will impact the entire, or sections of the student body.  If your area of work includes a student-facing element, or you are looking to develop one, working with a Connector team will provide you with a fresh, diverse and informed student perspective.

Staff Connectors are expected to: 

  • Build an open, co-creative working culture: encouraging teamwork and collaboration, being open to both giving and receiving feedback with students, being transparent about decision-making, prioritising building positive working relationships.

  • Support students to develop in their Connector roles: allocating time to spend with the team and 121 with Connectors, discussing their goals and development together, and sharing your own skills and knowledge.

  • Show flexibility and patience to Student Connectors; enabling students to take part on an equal basis, considering their study timetables, accessibility needs and other personal responsibilities outside of their roles.  

We do not hire Connectors into admin, ambassadorial or representative roles.  For teams looking for student support in these areas, contact:

Ambassador teams

Students' Union teams

Learn more about the difference between Student Reps and Student Connectors here

How can I start working with Student Connectors?

1. Collaborate on a project

If you are interested in engaging a team of Student Connectors to work with you/your team on a project over a month or more, please complete the Connector Team Proposal Template and send to connectorprogramme@sussex.ac.uk

Connector teams are expected to start working at three points during the year: 

Semester 1, please submit the proposal by 1st June

Semester 2, please submit the proposal by 1st November

Summer holidays, please submit the proposal by 1st March

In some circumstances, we can start Connector teams outside of this schedule. If this applies to your project, tell us in your initial email. 

Once we have received your Connector Team Proposal, the programme team will respond with the next steps. In some cases, we will need to refine and clarify points on the proposal before approval or adjust project start dates depending on staff capacity and budget restrictions. 

We endeavour to engage Connector teams as requested wherever possible when proposals meet Connector Programme objectives of improving the student experience and providing co-creative and supportive roles for students.  

2. Collaborate on a one-off opportunity 

If you have a one-off co-creative opportunity in which you would like to engage students, such as attending a focus group, featuring in a video, or other tasks, you can request to offer this to Student Connectors.

Please complete the Student Connectors – one-off engagement request form, at least one week before the date Connectors would be required.  We will aim to accommodate requests wherever possible.

3. Promote an idea or gather feedback

If you are running an event or seeking feedback about an idea, The Connector Programme team uses social media and other online platforms to communicate with the Connector community and the wider student body.

If you would like us to share your content you can request this by completing the Student Connectors – online community request form, at least 3 days before the information is required to be posted.  

What does a Connector Team look like? 

Connector Teams vary depending on the needs of their work.

Team members 

Student Connector roles are open to all students at Sussex, IDS and BSMS.  We are keen to hire diverse groups of students for every role, to ensure that teams include a variety of opinions, approaches and personal experience and therefore to ensure that Connectors’ work is informed and inclusive.

As the Connector Programme is funded by the Access and Participation Plan, we look to hire Student Connectors from the key student groups identified as under-represented at Sussex, as much as possible. These student groups include Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students, students with a disability, care leavers, estranged students, young carers, forced migrants and refugees, mature students and children of military families.  

Different areas of work may require Connector teams to have specific perspectives, such as studying a certain course or having particular lived experiences.  When building Connector teams we are able to hire against this type of eligibility criteria.  

Team resource

Connector Teams can be of any size, but we recommend that a minimum of 3 will allow for a good mix of ideas and perspectives, and a maximum of around 8 will be a manageable number to incorporate into a team/department.

Student Connectors will work a set number of hours each week, agreed at the start of their roles.  Every student in the team should work the same number of hours.  We recommend that a minimum of 4 hours per week will allow Connectors to properly engage in their roles and keep up with tasks, and a maximum of 8 hours per week will allow them to continue to prioritise their studies.  If a student is not able to work their full hours one week due to other responsibilities, they are welcome to make these up on another week during the same month.

Connector Teams may be engaged for different lengths of time.  We suggest that a minimum of 4 weeks allows students enough time to have an impact in their roles.  We currently only engage students to work until the end of the current academic year/start of the new academic year – it is possible to run Connector teams across multiple academic years but engaging new teams each time allows for more students to have the opportunity to work as a Connector. 

Responsibilities

Connector Teams are co-creative and students and staff have shared input and equal responsibility.  

Student connectors responsibilities: 

  • Creative design
  • Provide feedback 
  • Engage with the wider student body
  • Attend regular 121s and team meetings
  • Admin tasks such as responding to emails
  • Attend meetings (when required)
  • Run events
  • Draft documents (as appropriate)

Staff connectors responsibilities: 

  • Budgeting
  • Logistics and project planning
  • Engage with academic and professional staff 
  • Arrange team meetings and 121s
  • Provide the Connector Team with a variety of tasks

Larger Connector teams work best if split into sub-groups, with different workstreams allocated to each group.  This will allow Connectors to work on areas they are most interested in and often makes it far easier for Staff Connector to manage to delegate tasks and so on.

Pay 

Every Student Connector is paid the standard hourly rate of £9.50 for their work.

All Connectors should claim their pay every month, and must only claim for the amount per week specified on their original job description unless otherwise agreed with the Connector Programme Team.  

Recruitment Process 

Every applicant completes a written application form where they are asked to explain their motivations for applying for the role and how they demonstrate the Sussex Values.  Then those shortlisted will attend a Selection Event where they will take part in interactive group activities to demonstrate how they approach tasks and work with others.  Then the final team is selected and appointed.

The Connector Programme Team manages the recruitment process in collaboration with Staff Connectors, as follows:

Step

Connector Programme Team role

Staff Connector role

Agree key dates

Suggest dates for

-          Application deadline

-          Selection event 

 

Inform if Staff Connector and/or team is able to attend on the suggested Selection event date

Create job description

Draft job description and responsibilities based on project brief

 

Review draft and edit as needed

Create application form

Create a customised application form, based on the job description

 

Confirm any specific requirements/eligibility for applicants

Advertise role

Post job description and application form on CareerHub

 

Advertise the role via social media and email

Advertise the role via own communication channels – always link to CareerHub (rather than share JD, for consistency for applicants)

 

Screen written applications

 

After application deadline, screen written applications with support from experienced Student Connectors trained in recruitment.

 

Invite shortlisted applicants to Selection event

 

NA

Run selection event

 

Facilitate Selection event and observe/mark applicants, with support from experienced Student Connectors trained in recruitment.

 

Attend Selection event and observe/mark applicants

Select Connector team

 

Select applicants to make up the final team – taking into consideration performance in the application process and ensuring a diverse mix of perspectives in the team, including those in APP target groups.

 

Offer role to selected applicants.

 

Inform Staff Connectors when applicants have accepted.

 

Select applicants to make up the final team – taking into consideration performance in the application process and ensuring a diverse mix of perspectives in the team, including those in APP target groups.

 

Once applicants have accepted, contact them about next steps for projects starting.

 

Complete right to work checks

 

Work with successful applicants and HR compliance to complete right to work checks for all those hired – no student can start induction/work until this is complete.

 

NA

Training and Support

What training and support do Student Connectors receive?

Connector roles are intended to be development opportunities for students.  We deliberately do not hire students for professional experience or knowledge – we look for those who approach tasks with creativity and problem-solving skills, who work collaboratively and positively with others and who are interested in working and learning on their Connector project.  As such, we look to provide training and support throughout Student Connectors’ roles.

Compulsory training covers: 

  • Introduction to the Connector Programme ethos and co-creation
  • Development in a Connector role such as goal-setting, skills development etc. 
  • Communication, teamwork, inclusivity and problem-solving in a professional setting
  • Practicalities of the Connector role – managing hours, pay claims, GDPR etc.

 

What support do Staff Connectors receive?

The Connector Programme team will support prospective and current Staff Connectors with:

  • Developing a Connector Team Proposal 
  • Recruitment, selection and training for Student Connectors 
  • Induction session and ongoing advice to support managing and developing a Connector team
  • Resources to support project evaluation and promotion 

Staff can also reach out to the Connector Programme team for support at any time.  We have run a wide variety of Connector projects to date and are happy to share our experience or connect you with other staff members who run related projects.