Build the Union

Making a Map of Oxford

28 June 2013 | last updated: 15 January 2018

Our latest guest blog post is from Chloe Jeffries, membership secretary at the University of Oxford's UCU branch. Chloe explains how her branch is building a map of their existing and potential membership as a vital tool to help them develop plans for sustainable recruitment.

Mapping members is an important task. We at Oxford UCU began mapping our members after HR refused to pass on the names of new joiners of the university. We currently cannot carry out a targeted mailshot. So we need to make the data we have do more work!

Mapping members is particularly vital  in Oxford because we have a very disparate site. There is no central campus, rather an assortment of colleges and departments in small (and not so small) buildings which are scattered around the city. Working out where to run recruitment stalls or go door-knocking is not straightforward. Mapping helps with this.

Over the past few months, then, we have been compiling an Excel document which calculates the density of membership in each division and department. The density is simply the percentage of all eligible academic and academic-related staff that are members of UCU. Some broad trends emerged (we have fewer members in the sciences than the humanities and social sciences). There were also some surprising results which we could have not predicted based on anecdotal evidence or feedback from reps. Including reps on the document (and soon, local contacts) helps us calculate where reps make a difference and where we need more.

Our mapping spreadsheet must be a live document. We are now in the process of sending it to the reps for their comments and will continue to refine it over the coming months. We will update the figures at regular intervals. A recruitment drive is crucial for the health of the union. But recruitment must also be sustainable and these figures should give our campaigns greater force and precision for some time to come.