This years Student Voice Conference took place on the 24th of November with great success. Students had the opportunity to directly feedback to the university staff about their experiences. Following last year’s feedback Student Voice Conference was hybrid this year and it gave students and staff a great opportunity to communicate in person and online.
Student Officers within each college chaired the sessions, which meant that the student voice really was at the forefront of the sessions, with amazing questions coming from students and reps.
Across the board the rep’s feedback that learning online was more difficult than learning on campus, with a strong acknowledgment from staff that the goal is to return to teaching as normal as soon as it is safe to do so and unless there are exceptional circumstances where this is not possible, such as a highly knowledgeable member of staff having to self-isolate and work from home.
Another overarching issue related to PATs (Personal Academic Tutors). It was noted that many students were still unsure of the role of the PAT and would have liked more detail and more regular contact from their PAT. As well as earlier meetings with the PAT scheduled for students who started in March.
For The College of Arts Humanities and Education, areas that were highlighted related to Communication and Information, Exams and Assignments, as well as Placement and Work Experience. It was commented that staff needed to train on the new Student Voice Portal at The Union, which is a place where staff and students can access the names of reps, and feedback any issues they have on their programme. It was also noted that although placements are usually provided within an hour and a half travel time, due to circumstances that have arisen over the last year, it may be that students will have to travel further.
View the AHE recording
For The College of Business, Law and Social Sciences, there was a lot of positive feedback around the course resources and quality of teaching, such as The Student Voice Portal being easy to use and navigate, as well as Blackboard being simple to get to grips with, and positive passion from the lecturers. Other areas mentioned included issues with students tapping into their classes, which will be dealt with. There were some issues with assignment deadlines being scheduled for the same day, but thanks to the feedback of the rep this was dealt with and sometimes were altered. There had been some issues with noisy students on some of the modules, and although the lecturer had tried to manage this the students had continued to be disruptive. Due to students on some courses coming from multiple programmes, this issue was made all the more difficult, but will be looked into in order to come up with a suitable resolution.
View the BLSS recording
For The College of Health, Psychology and Social Care the issue of staff training on the new Student Voice Portal was risen, with a short demonstration of the portal included, plus links to a training video supplied. One major issue in the college was that students have been concerned around vaccinations for their placements, not only the Covid-19 vaccinations but also HEP B, which is required for some students. The booking system for vaccinations has been well utilised, which is excellent news, but has resulted in a waiting list for vaccinations which goes beyond Christmas. For the HEP B vaccination staff will be contacted the external company that provides the service in order to ensure a smoother running of the process. There was positive feedback relating to communication and curriculum content, but some students have suggested that the quality of teaching has dropped with the introduction of hybrid learning, as the pre-recorded material is not always ideal and on occasion, due to illness, some in person teaching has been cancelled. A tracker is being implemented to ensure that more classes are covered if there is an illness.
View the HPSC recording
For The College of Science and Engineering the main issue related to the suitability of online audio within the tutorials, and this is something which the rep in this area will be working on improving. Post graduate students asked that there was a research methodology module introduced at the start of the semester so that September students went into the start of their journey with this, as it is currently presented in the spring semester only. This will be discussed and investigated by the college.
View the SE recording
For Online Students, along with feedback regarding the PATs as mentioned earlier, it was noted that students were receiving too many notifications from certain Microsoft facilities, and the staff have discussed addressing this by checking the notification settings, as well as creating a support page to ensure that students have the knowledge of how to unsubscribe.
View the O/L recording
In addition to the college forums, there was a wider Student Forum which was attended by heads of the University including Kath Mitchell (Vice Chancellor), Keith McLay (Provost), Carl Longworth, Russ Langley and Hannah Robinson.
During this forum wider issues were raised such as Turnitin similarity checking for students who had extended deadlines. It was believed that the submission link was open for multiple submissions, so that the similarity could be checked, but this will be checked, and alternatives will be provided if required.
This year there have been issues in relation to the lifts at the University, with some of the provisions being improved. This has impacted disabled students, and although there are multiple routes through the University it was noted that this is not obvious to all students and a request was made for Disability Diversions, where students can be easily directed to alternative routes whenever lifts might be out of service. This was something which the staff were very eager to facilitate and there will be more done to ensure that disabled students are not inconvenienced in the future.
Students asked about assistance for students who were planning to go into self-employment, which was something the Vice Chancellor was eager to promote and signposted the student to the “Be The Boss” programme which is a resource at the University specifically designed to support self-employment More information on the programme is available through the University's website.
View the SVC Q&A Recording
After the conference we asked students to complete a short survey to let us know what they thought of the day, and we were really pleased to hear that everyone had enjoyed The Student Voice Conference 2021. 100% of the attendees said that the conference was good/very good, and a 100% of the attendees said the structure of the day was good/excellent. The favourite event of the day was the Student Forum, which was rounded off with a social, and of course the customary free Dominoes, with students stating, “as it epitomised student voice in action”. Students enjoyed that the conference could be attended online, and we did our best at the Union to make sure the hybrid experience was as cohesive as possible. One student said, “It felt that student voice was actually heard and taken seriously by the University”. One student mentioned that they would like recordings of sessions that they couldn’t attend, and the great news is that these are available! Finally, students wanted to thank the Union for organising the conference and said, “It was fantastic to see how involved the people from the University are, to have events where you can actually talk to the senior members about what the student experience is like is such a fantastic opportunity, thank you!”
Student Voice is a key part of the Union, and we really thrive on your input! We will be holding a Spring Student Voice Conference on Tue 22nd March 2022, so please come along and join in the fun, as well as having the opportunity to have your ideas and feedback heard. A link to this event will be available on our events pages in the new year.