Engagement in Action

Joe Dyde is the Engagement Partner at Coventry University helping to make their Flying Start scheme a great success. Here he describes the work being done now to get ready for the next academic year.

No sooner does one academic year begin to end, the hard work for the planning and execution for the next academic year begins. That is the case at all Universities, but particularly our work with Coventry University and their Flying Start scheme.

As the JS Group enters our 5th year supporting this scheme, that is no less the case than ever before. The mix of items supplied to CU students by us – print books, eBooks and online funds – all require their own work streams, project plans and actions.

The bulk of the provision still remains print textbooks to Year 1 & 2 students, which is logistically and operationally the most complex piece of the puzzle. The University project team work tirelessly to chase down and ensure choices of books are made by the academics for the relevant courses in the Spring, which can be challenging as from some perspectives the next academic year seems a long, long way off. Once we have the list of items, the JS Group work with our publisher colleagues to confirm price and availability for the selected titles to be fed back into the University for final sign-off against their budget. Within the mix, there are always unavailable, problematic titles that require switching and changing and liaison between 3 or 4 various parties. Once given the green light, we confirm our orders and delivery requirements with publishers for stock to start arriving in August.

To ensure smooth handling and delivery of stock to students on Campus, both parties will work on delivery schedules to all faculties and modules, plan the space in our central distribution hub on Campus, arrange for transportation & around 30(!) roll cages and safe handling of stock, staffing to support the activity. Then it’s just the small matter of delivery of ten of thousands of books, bagging them by course for students and getting them into students hands at the right time on the right day, with the right books. Think shopping in Argos….you come to the counter, make your transaction and behind the scenes someone is collating your order ready to hand it over to you.

For eBooks & online funds, the work is obviously far more technical – but the core remains the same. Needing to know which books students need provided on Kortext, or will need to buy on our online store so we can carry sufficient stock in our distribution centre. Then it’s a case of ensuring the data feeds are all set up and working correctly, we’re promoting to students on how to access their funds or Kortext account, and handling any queries efficiently and effectively.

We’re less than 2 months away from the point where all the work put in over the Spring and Summer pays off, when students have their books ready to succeed and get the best possible start to their academic year.