Meet our new Student Experience and Engagement network team!

The AUA is delighted to announce its new Student Experience and Engagement Network coordinator team.

David Gilani, Head of Student Engagement and Advocacy at Middlesex University London, has stepped up into the role of Network Coordinator and will be joined by Deputy Coordinators Siobhan Dumphy, Education and Student Experience Manager within the Division of Natural Sciences at the University of Kent, and Chris Whitehead, Student Engagement and Communications Officer at the University of Surrey.

David Gilani
Siobhan Dumphy
Chris Whitehead

This news means that Josh Gulrajani has stepped down from his role as Network Coordinator.David, Siobhan and Chris would like to thank Josh for his contributions but also for setting up the network in April 2019.

If you would like to know more about the Student Engagement Network or find out how to sign up take a look at the Network’s introduction page.

About David

One of my favourite things about working in Higher Education is reaching out and learning from what others are doing at different institutions.

One of my first roles in HE was at the University of Southampton, researching how/whether they should set up a function dedicated to improving communications with students. I got in touch with as many different universities as I could to see what they were doing and everyone was so helpful and open to sharing. Ever since then, I’ve always done whatever I can to pass it forward – that’s why I’m so happy to have this role encouraging even more collaboration across the fields of Student Experience and Engagement.

For the last five years, I’ve worked at Middlesex University and am now heading up their Student Engagement and Advocacy team. This covers comms, events and engagement campaigns with current students and alumni. I also get to work very closely with our students’ union, which is great because I was a Sabbatical Officer at Southampton in what feels like a lifetime ago.

In my spare time, my go-to hobby is board games… and luckily there have been some great online versions popping up over the last year to keep me sane during lockdowns. If you want any advice on best sites to use for virtual board / party gaming then do get in touch!

About Siobhan

I started working at the University of Kent as an undergraduate and never left! In the last 12 years I’ve had a range of different jobs including working in the University library and in our employability, student engagement and student recruitment teams.

All of them touched on student experience in some way and feed into my current role as an Education and Student Experience Manager, where the focus is everything that makes up an excellent student experience, from the moment students enrol all the way through to graduation. I’m always looking at ways to improve and streamline student’s experiences with us and this combined with my experiences as a Recruitment, Marketing and Admissions Officer means I am fascinated by the student journey and what it means to have a great student experience.

I joined the AUA three years ago and wished I’d done it sooner! I’m really excited to share the Deputy Network Coordinator role with Chris, as I think the network is a brilliant opportunity to bring together like-minded colleagues, to share best practice and support one another in our endeavours to provide exceptional student experience. It’s not always easy to know you’re doing the right thing, and I hope we can provide a network of people that can act as a sounding board and support network for new ideas.

When I’m not thinking about student experience you can find me spending my free time focussing on food- eating it, making it and just generally thinking about it! I have of course perfected the perfect sourdough in lockdown and have tried my hand at sushi, celebration cakes and just about any cookie you can think of. Next stop- dumplings of the world!

About Chris

My story is very similar to Siobhan’s – the last 14 years have seen me go from an undergraduate student at the University of Surrey through various jobs and into the great role that I am in now!

I made my return to our main campus in 2018 after 7 years working in marketing at Surrey Sports Park, covering anything from promoting memberships and junior camps to selling event tickets and running three professional sports clubs. We were lucky enough to host training camps for London 2014, Glasgow 2014 and the 2015 Rugby World Cup, creating experiences that I am very fond of.

I have taken my experience of commercial marketing and comms and tried to apply them to a very much internal comms role. That is not without its challenges, but I like to think that we have progressed by applying some slightly different thinking to our channels and projects at Surrey.

I am very much a network newbie…but I found those opportunities to meet others in 2020 invaluable and I am really looking forward to playing a bigger part in 2021 and beyond!