Ideas submitted to help OUPS profitability

18. (Sep 2018) Engage the help of module tutors to promote OUPS on OU module forums

Conclusion: This seems like a good idea - include it in the ongoing work with the faculty to define the OU policy for Associate Lecturers that explains what is acceptable for them to do for OUPS. At worst, obtain formal confirmation that this is not approved at this time and establish what needs to be done to make it acceptable.

Note: linked to the earlier idea of creating a mailing list for ALs to subscribe to for material to distribute, maybe put these together.


17. (May 2018) As module FB groups start to form, generally before the start of the academic year, recruit the new ‘admin’ to be OUPS ambassadors offering them discounted places at OUPS events based on the number of attendees they recruit from their group, say £5 per head? Most (number unspecified) of the respondents felt they would be likely to be influenced by admin and thought it quite reasonable admin should have a discounted place. Marketing within the group can then be led by the admin prompted by OUPS at regular intervals for example when the easy payment scheme is about to close (more about this later).

Conclusion: we do not believe that this is a worthwhile activity so we will not be doing this


16. (May 2018) Consider creating ‘official’ OUPS FB groups possibly available only to OUPS members with tutors present to moderate the risk of misinformation that is a valid criticism of some FB groups. There is scope here to ‘sell’ this as a pilot scheme to the OU Psychology department as one way to cut OU costs would be to cut the module forum groups replacing them with reliable FB groups.

Conclusion: we have neither the resource nor the desire to market Facebook groups for the OU so we will not be doing this. 


15. (May 2018) After the success of video linking DD307 at Warwick a couple of years ago, albeit only to an adjacent room, and the success of Prof Steve Reicher lecturing to a LOUPS event in London from his home in Scotland; consider video streaming OUPS lectures live to students unable to physically attend such events, these could be charged out at say £10 per lecture. Imagine 2027 based in Cambridge does this but the viewings are free.

Conclusion: we will continue to investigate ways to progress in this area. While we may not be able to change current events, these could be augmented with new events designed to be streamed from the outset.

Updates:


14. (May 2018) Despite the alleged copyright issues and tutor reluctance it must surely be possible to record some of the streamed lectures (as above) and make these available for download (or via dvd) again at a cost of say £10 per lecture? Many lectures are available on YouTube, copyright obviously isn’t an issue there and the tutors eg Prof Reicher don’t seem to be too reluctant either.

Conclusion: we can’t force speakers to be recorded. However we will continue to investigate ways to make our services more accessible (though not at the expense of being criminally negligent or losing good tutors and speakers by being over-demanding and insisting that they are recorded). See our copyright policy. We will also invest in ways to improve our attendees' awareness of copyright issues so that presenters are more likely to allow us to distribute material more freely.

Updates:


13. (May 2018) The easy payment scheme has started to work with 12 attendees at the May conference taking advantage of the scheme. The scheme is very advantageous to OUPS as it means earlier booking of places and lower charges as direct bank payments are much cheaper than Paypal and credit cards. The scheme is however too rigid, for example booking for the Sept event is already closed and that for January opens on July 1st and also closes that day under current rules! Given many in E219 didn’t know about the event until less than 6 months the scheme was not open to them at all! It needs to be more flexible by offering the opportunity to spread payments over 3,4 or 6 months plus the ability to ‘catch up’ if joining late.

Conclusion: as presented this idea requires too much work to meet the minimal demand so we won’t be doing this. We’ll continue to offer the PayPlan scheme for a further 12 months and then consider retiring if the lack of interest continues.

Updates:


12. (May 2018) Given that Paypal fees in the 2016 OUPS accounts were some £5000 running at 2.9% of revenue (card fees are the same) i.e. £8.41 per booking at this event and that bank transfers are virtually free, advise students booking that the preferred payment method is direct bank transfer or the easy payment scheme as both cost OUPS much less in fees.

Conclusion: as presented this idea gives too little benefit to too few customers with too much work required for the resource available so we will not be doing this.


11. (May 2018) Regarding assisted places currently these are offered on an ad hoc basis with no guidelines except a commitment last year to increase to ‘up to 10 per weekend’ in addition these generally seem to be totally free places rather than assisted. My suggestion is to enable upping the number by making the maximum subsidy 50%, in doing so a number of students who don’t wish full ‘charity’ might be more encouraged to apply. In addition surely some examples of how a student might qualify is surely not unreasonable?

Conclusion: worse than the current process so we will not be doing this.


10. (May 2018) Extend invitations to events to other university students to increase attendance, surely there must have been many at the LSE who would have paid to attend the excellent LOUPS Social Psych event and a larger lecture room was situated next door.

Conclusion: this is a high-effort/low yield exercise, but we may continue doing this depending on time available.


9. (May 2018) Consider streaming events such as this to a regional hub in say Manchester, Leeds or Edinburgh again assisted by inviting the ‘native’ students?

Conclusion: include in the work to investigate remote streaming.


8. (May 2018) Revisit the various costings at Warwick weekends a discount of £50 for not having a room seems ridiculously low for example. Likewise the cost of an en-suite student room at £279 (for members) is just £11 less than one of the hotel style rooms at the other events and doesn’t seem good value. Consider too a discount for 2 student friends opting to share a twin room at the conferences. A common complaint about the events is that they are too expensive and many can’t afford to attend.

Conclusion: as presented this idea gives too little benefit to too few customers with too much work required so we will not be doing this.


7. (May 2018) Make the events more friendly and less foreboding for new attendees, there is a real sense of ‘in group’ with the management and the continuing use of what effectively are high tables for the committee etc. should be discontinued forthwith. These new attendees are customers, they need to be nurtured, encouraged to attend again, spreading the word and bringing their friends.There is not a single successful company that doesn’t ensure the directors and management sit with the ‘normal’ staff at company functions, it’s almost shocking that such behaviour takes place within a gathering of psychologists!

Conclusion: the evidence suggests that this is a personal experience and not the typical case :) The overwhelming anecdotal evidence is that attendees have plenty of committee contact and leave our events feeling more encouraged than they had expected. However it is a concern with committee attendance being reduced to skeleton-staff for two out of our three weekends in order to manage costs, so we should make sure that attendees continue to have as much committee contact as they want. 


6. (Mar 2018) Create a mailing list for ALs who can subscribe to receive details of our events that they are willing to distribute to their tutor groups.

Conclusion: this sounds like a good idea, progress it.

Updates:


5. (Nov 2017) Reduce committee members attendance to skeleton level to reduce cost to a minimum.

Conclusion: this sounds like a good idea, progress it.

Updates:


4. (Nov 2017) Tutors who are committee members to teach without charging a fee.

Conclusion: this sounds like a good idea, progress it.

Updates:


3. (Nov 2017) Our weekend prices have been the same for over seven years - increase them to a more realistic level to account for the annual increases by Warwick.

Conclusion: this is inevitable. Prices to be increased from September 2018 and then reviewed annually to ensure they are in line with costs.

Updates:


2. (Nov 2017) As a charitable society we offer subsidised places on our weekend events to students with financial difficulty. Our goal has been to offer 10 per weekend, but as numbers have fallen this is dis-proportionate. Reduce the number of places and/or the percentage of the price that is subsidised.

Conclusion: we need to do this, to be discussed.


1. (May 2017) With the support of the OU, make all new psychology students automatic members of OUPS so that we can make them aware of our events. The rationale for forcing free membership on them, instead of offering free membership that they have to choose to take up, is that they are less likely to "opt out" of being members than they are to decide to "opt in" by going through the free-membership process.

With the introduction of the GDPR data protection regulations in May 2018 this is not legal to do, and so we would not expect the OU to do this for these reasons:

Conclusion: This idea as proposed is illegal and largely practically unworkable in any case due to the administration overhead between the OU and OUPS.

Updates:

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