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Students feel “disconnected” from student body

Middlesex University has revealed statistics that show the levels of student engagement and participation rising from 2018 to 2019.

These figures are despite growing complaints from society leaders that the student body has grown more disconnected in recent years, leading to a decreased level of involvement in student groups, societies and Students’ Union events.

Katya Turikova, 21, Head of Student TV and in her 3rd year of BA Business, said that “there is no student body” due to a lack of connectivity between the students. “I would like to see a university where the student body is more united.” She argued. This included more collaborations between societies, a less “distant” Students’ Union, and a greater sense of excitement from students to be a “part of things” at the University.

However, the statistics provided most recently by the university show that students are getting more involved lately, not less.

According to official information released by the university, figures show that 21% of students completed their Module Feedback Forms in 2019, compared to just 1% in 2018. With a total of 14,805 students enrolling or re-enrolling at the start of the 2017/18 academic year, that 20% growth represents approximately 2,961 students becoming more actively engaged in their courses. Other figures show that the number of students attending their graduation ceremony has also increased. 45% of students attended their graduation ceremony during Summer Term in 2018, compared to the 55% who attended during Winter Term in 2019. Despite this, only 778 students were reported to attend 100% of their classes in 2018, meaning that around fourteen-thousand students did not attend all their classes that year. In fact, during the academic year 2017/18, the average student only attended 61.58% of their classes.

Dr Anna Charalambidou, BA English Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer in English Language, claimed that she was “very fortunate” to have students with a desire to engage in the University’s community outside of their classes. She explained that despite her good fortune, “not all students are able to afford that time” due to part-time jobs, long commutes and other family or caring responsibilities.

The argument that Middlesex University students have particularly difficult schedule to manage is one that is backed up by the current elected President of the Students’ Union, Anas Badar, who in an interview with The Echo earlier this year explained that one of his main driving forces for running for the position was his own long commute and how that affected his ability to get involved in activities outside of his studies. International students were also a key factor highlighted by Anas. “I don’t really see them as much involved,” he said, pointing out that there are additional communication barriers and work commitments for students who have travelled to the UK for their studies.

The Students’ Union have responded to this claiming that society memberships have risen by over 2,000 in the last year. Despite this, although seeing an “increased number of student events”, the numbers in attendence have remained “level”. They also promised to be “committed to providing opportunities and services which are accessible and relevant”, particularly in working with students who have encountered “barriers”, such as commuters and carers.

These statistics contrasted with the student opinion begs the question: How can we get students to engage more outside of their courses?