Why do services close so early on Open Days?

QUESTION:

Why did the coffee shop and student shop (Stafford) close so early on the Saturday Open day?

It was most inconvenient meaning our visitors and staff had nowhere to go for refreshments.

ANSWER:

We have passed on your comments to the Students’ Union with regards to their shop. As far as Grumpy Mule is concerned, the Campus and Commercial Services management team have taken feedback on board and will make sure that catering outlets are open for the duration of Open Day activity on 6 December – Thank you.

Why is air conditioning on in The Pavilion? And why the surcharge for using cards?

QUESTION:

I’ve just been for lunch at the pavilion restaurant on college road and I have to say the aircon settings are ridiculous … I was only wearing a t-shirt and was being gently gusted by freezing cold air. Other patrons sat there in full coats.

What is this being cooled ‘for’? it’s hardly the middle of summer.

Also – I’m frustrated about the card payments at the Uni. People get charged 50p to use their card if the meal is less than £5. I’ve never had a meal down there that’s been over £5. – usually it’s just shy of £5 and I have to either pay a 50p charge or buy something else to push it over the £5.

When I’m trying to eat healthily and facing a stack of conveniently placed chocolate bars on the tills, and a queue of people behind me, it’s frustrating that I feel pushed into buying an unhealthy option or face wasting 50p. Where has that 50p figure been derived from?

Can the limit be dropped to £3 or £4  ? alternatively provide cash machine facilities on college road ?  or perhaps lower the charge amount somewhat to make it a more appealing option than just buying more food?

ANSWER:

Thank you for getting in touch.

We have been having a few problems with the air conditioning within the Pavilion as the control units sometimes appear to re-set themselves…. unfortunately to cold settings. We are now waiting for an engineer to attend site to rectify the situation. In the meantime, if it does get too cold, please advise the staff who will arrange for the heat setting to be adjusted manually.

The 50p cost has derived from the banks; this is what they charge us to process a card payment. The £5 limit was set when we introduced Chip & Pin to the campus three years ago and to be fair we have had very little challenge on the 50p charge. Whilst we appreciate that it is an extra cost; most smaller retailers actually stipulate a minimum spend on card transactions. As a compromise to refusing card payments below £5 we took the decision to charge the fee that the banks charge us for processing the payment which gives customers that choice.

There is a cashpoint located within the train station and outside of the Post Office on College Road for those customers who wish to purchase food at the Pavilion with cash; similarly a cashpoint exists on Leek Road outside of the Brindley Building. We now also have advance cards for sale, which essentially allow you to purchase a meal card to the value of £37.90 for £32.99.

Finally we are reviewing our spend levels following the implementation of new contactless chip and pin machines which will be rolled out within the next couple of weeks and will give consideration to your idea of reducing this to perhaps £4.00.

The Catering Team

Why does the University not sell oatcakes?

QUESTION:
Given that they’re tasty and healthy and probably popular with a lot of our staff and students, why are oatcakes not available from any of the University’s catering outlets? It would also be a small but visible way of supporting some unique local businesses.

 

ANSWER:
We have tried selling oatcakes on several occasions with differing fillings, mainly in a pre-packaged format which are made on site and sold in the Pavilion, Bush House, DolcheVita Brindley and the Terrace at Stafford.

Despite several efforts to promote them, they just did not sell so we made the decision to remove them from sale.

What was the £25 graduation ticket price spent on?

QUESTION:
I had a wonderful morning with my son and other family members at the FCES graduation event (yesterday). The weather was wonderful and the venue idyllic. However, my expectations were not met when it came to the refreshments –in fact, I was quite disappointed. I would like to ask what I received for my £25 ticket fee for the Graduation event. It certainly wasn’t food. I wonder if Exec can identify what the fee was actually spent on?

 

ANSWER:
Following the ceremonies held at the Trentham Estate in 2012 the University reviewed the location and pricing for its graduation ceremonies with particular concern as to how we manage large numbers of guests in inclement weather. Equally the cost of the graduation ceremonies and the fairness of the previous ticket pricing was raised.
A number of alternative venues were considered for future ceremonies, however, following a feasibility study and consultation with the Students’ Union it was agreed that the previous venue at the Trentham Estate offered by far the better overall experience for our graduating students and their families.
In 2012 all students were charged a flat fee of £35 to attend graduation which covered the entry of the graduate to the ceremonies and a guaranteed 2 additional guests. In 2012 30% of students requested 2 or less tickets and indeed 32 students brought no guests at all to the ceremonies. This meant that the remaining 70% of students and their guests were receiving far more for their £35 than the other students. It was, therefore, agreed that given the increasing costs to students for obtaining their degree that a fairer system would allow free entrance to the ceremonies for all graduates and to charge a fee per guest.
A comparison exercise was undertaken with other Universities and a fee of £25 agreed. This fee covers the entrance into the gardens (normally costing £8), access to the ceremony hall, a celebratory brochure and the post ceremony celebration catering for students and their guests.
We listened to feedback to our pricing structure once the ticket prices had been announced and agreed to offer a £10 refund for all tickets that had been purchased for a child after between 6 and 14. All under-fives entered free of charge. The Students’ Union were fully involved in the review from the start of the process.
The feedback received from virtually all who attended the week was of a higher positive and enjoyable experience. A sample of the comments can be found at http://storify.com/StaffsUni/staffordshire-university-awards-2013 .

It was important to us to ensure that our Students were the decision makers in the style, content and range of products that were offered as part of the post ceremony refreshments. We took the opportunity throughout the planning process to run a number of tasting panels of proposed products. The final range was decided upon by Students and were the products that they had given the highest marks to regards to in taste and visual appeal. We were also mindful that there would be a large number of our guests that would have specific dietary requirements and so for the first time we were able to offer the ability to book special dietary requests for not only the students but also their guests. Comments and feedback from the Students show that this was very well received.

Why doesn’t the Pavilion stay open for staff?

QUESTION:
We all understand that students go home for the holidays resulting in less people on campus, but why is it deemed acceptable to close the Pavilion to staff during this period? Dolche Vita provides a very limited range of sandwiches and cakes, but especially with the cold weather that we are having, staff often want something more substantial and there is little alternative available.  Surely you could still offer a limited range of hot food?

 

ANSWER:
The Pavilion is closed mainly due to the lack of sales experienced during the vacation periods. We have tried opening the Pavilion several times when students are not around and offered some really attractive promotional deals for staff; despite this, sales still tend to be very poor. Coffee and snack sales remain high in the Costa outlet hence the reason why we choose to close the Pavilion during vacation.

Normally we would offer a small table service in the Courtyard Cafe offering cook to order food, however we have been exceptionally busy with the migration of our kitchen operations from Cadman to the Brindley Food Court during the Easter period; In anticipation of this we notified staff on RSS in early March of potential minor disruptions to service as a result over the vacation.

We have, throughout the vacation, provided a hot soup offer daily, along with sandwiches and Panini’s. We will review our daily offer over the summer vacation and possibly increase the menu in The Courtyard Cafe during this period…. again we apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers during this transition and thank you for your patience.

Are there plans to bring Costa Coffee to Stafford?

QUESTION:
I’ve been up to Stoke recently and noticed they serve Costa Coffee and I was quite envious of the people up in Stoke.

Do you have any plans to introduce Costa Coffee in Stafford?

 
ANSWER:
The Campus & Commercial Services team is continually reviewing the services we offer and this may include the introduction of new brands. We recently brought Grumpy Mule coffee to the University in the Ashley Cafe at Stoke and will be happy to look into the possibility of bringing Costa to Stafford.

Did the sale of beer breach licensing provisions?

QUESTION:
In relation to the question regarding the sale of beer at Dolche Vita and other locations in Stafford, can Commercial Services confirm that this did not contravene the applicable licensing provisions? If a breach was undertaken will appropriate disciplinary action be taken against those responsible?

 

ANSWER:
It would be inappropriate to discuss disciplinary action in this forum, however we can confirm that the Campus & Commercial Services team did not breech any licensing provisions.

Should the university be endorsing day-time drinking in the work place?

QUESTION:
Recently there has been a warming welcome in the Beacon Foyer of hot chocolate and grab and go tasty meals, however it was rather disconcerting on Monday to see that this was supplemented by large cans of larger – possibly traditional accompaniment to pie and peas for English diners but not warming, not conducive to afternoon study and probably not what a lot of the new MSc students were expecting to see.

Should the university be endorsing day-time drinking in the work place especially when alcohol is a major health hazard. Those who want to drink do have bars to go to including on the premises, should those who those who don’t or who abstain for various reasons have it so in their face? The larger has now relocated to Dolche Vita – again it doesn’t seem entirely appropriate.

 

ANSWER:
This was a one off and we appreciate now with hindsight, that it wasn’t an appropriate location for the sale of alcohol. The Commercial Services team would like to apologise if any offence was caused and reassure everyone that this was not our intention.

Why have self-serve salad boxes been removed from catering outlets?

QUESTION:
I have been into Bush House today and was looking forward to using the salad bar and choosing my own salad. It is no longer available. I have asked staff and they explained that Bush House are discontinuing the salad bar and only offering pre-made salad boxes. These boxes start at £2.49 each- over double the price of a basic salad tub (from last academic year) and more to the point, they are filled with mayonnaise, croutons and cheese which are all high in fat.

The primary food offering in the Food for Thought today seems to be chips, pizza, burgers and other hot or fried foods. What options are there for staff who want to eat a healthy/low fat diet for medical and health reasons?

How can we promote healthy living amongst staff and students when such a limited range of food is being offered on campus? It leaves us with no other option but to use external outlets, which have a wider choice, but obviously this will impact on the income from on-campus outlets.

 
ANSWER:
Many thanks for your comments regarding the offer in Bush House. In terms of the salad bar offer we decided to remove this due to lack of sales and as a result introduced the pre packed salad boxes as an alternative due to higher sales experienced in other areas.

I accept your point regarding the increase in price for the salad boxes, but to be fair, these products are better quality with a lot more filling and indeed are selling much better than the previous Bush House salad bar offer.

In terms of the hot food offer, we do have a daily special which includes Jacket Potatoes, a casserole or freshly made curry of the day, burgers (which again are available with freshly prepared salad etc), fresh fruit pots and a host of wraps with assorted fillings.
I accept that we also sell fish and chips, but I do believe that this is the only unhealthy thing and we do need to offer some indulgencies.

The “choose your own” salad Bar is still available in the Pavilion and we are currently planning the menu and offers for the new food court in the Brindley Building, and indeed we will be offering a much wider selection of salad and deli including fill your own salad boxes and daily breads from March onwards.

 

Will there be catering facilities on College Road?

QUESTION:

With regards to the answer outlined in Could The Pavilion have power assisted doors? Can I ask if there will still be catering facilities at College Road for the many staff and students who populate this site?

 

ANSWER:

We have no plans to change the catering offer on college road, however as and when new and refurbished buildings open and the campus footfall dynamics change we will keep the opening times and the food offer under review.