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Quality Assurance Agency Institutional Review: Students’ Submission

January 2014



Page Acknowledgements




SECTION 1: Student representative body


SECTION 2: How effectively the University has addressed the recommendations of its last review


SECTION 3: How effectively the University sets and maintains the threshold standards of its academic awards




Appendix 1: Evidence pack list of documents



Acknowledgements It is with great pride that I present the Students’ Submission as part of the QAA Institutional Review of Leeds Metropolitan University. Leaning heavily on the views of the 2012/13 cohorts of students through the National Student Survey and the institution’s own Student Satisfaction Survey. It identifies key points of excellent student experience and those areas that require some attention and development in the future. These observations have been analysed and organised over the last five months, supported, in part, by key personnel within the University and it is appropriate that I thank them. From Leeds Metropolitan University: Mark Wainman, Barbara Colledge, Sally Glen, Ruth Pickford and Paul Smith. I would also like to thank everyone in the Students’ Union who has supported me over the last few months, covering meetings, dealing with enquiries and accepting that this piece of work has been the sole priority. My fellow sabbatical officers, Millie Cooper, Megan Kearney and Chloe Coles, the Education Team and the staff of the Students’ Union. Special thanks are due to Pete MacMillan who undertook the vast majority of the analysis from the surveys; without this work we would not have been able to deliver such a thorough report. The Students’ Union sees the Review process as an important opportunity to state the experience as perceived by our membership and to propose ideas for consideration as how best to develop the experience of those who choose to study at Leeds Metropolitan University. In the landscape of higher tuition fees, it is more important than ever that we state a clear vision of what students can expect from their investment of time as well as the opportunities that are present after graduation. Here is the Students’ Submission.

Ollie Richardson, Vice President (Education) and Lead Student Representative. January 2014


Introduction The Leeds Metropolitan Student Submission is drawn predominantly from the results from the National Student Survey and the Institution’s own Student Satisfaction Survey completed by students between January and April 2013. Over 3000 students completed the National Student Survey and over 5000 completed the Student Satisfaction Survey. The collated results were analysed and trends identified from the quantitative data which led to further scrutiny of qualitative data (free text comments) from both surveys. Further to these large-scale surveys, consultations were arranged with representative post-graduate students to furnish this group a platform to share their views. It is fair to say that the Union is keen to do more to engage further with the post-graduate membership as the evidence gathered was inconclusive. The renewed participation in the PTES survey from 2014 is welcomed as this will assist future reviews of action plans and to gain better understanding of the issues impacting specifically on the post-graduate experience. The report was drafted by Union staff and approved by the lead student representative, in discussion with colleagues on the executive committee, members of the Board of Trustee’s and course representatives.


SECTION 1: Student representative body 1. The students’ union enjoys a good relationship with the senior tier of management within the University. Student officers have places on the majority of senior decision making committees within the University’s governance structure and further student representation is part of the membership of the majority of committees at faculty level too. 2. The Union has a broad portfolio of functions; Academic representation (in conjunction with the University), a generalist Welfare Advice service (that also provides advocacy at formal University hearings), Community Volunteering Programmes, 47 Student-led societies and a combined media outlet (Met Online). In addition to these core services, commercial venues at both Leeds campuses (City & Headingley) provide options for food, beverage and entertainment for all members during the undergraduate term time. 3. Since the previous Audit report (2009), the Union’s officers have been formally involved in the discussions pertaining to the major institutional changes detailed later as well as sharing student views on all manner of topics that impact on the student experience. When these matters are raised the officers are heard with respect and consideration.


SECTION 2: How effectively the University has addressed the recommendations of its last review 1. Following the publication of the 2009 Institutional review (and the 2011 Collaborative Partnership Audit) the University has undertaken a number of reviews and implemented a range of protocols to address the recommendations: 2. The use of external examiners’ reports and recommendations is now prominent within Faculty and Academic board oversight of programmes (where student representation is guaranteed). 3. The University has reviewed its regulations thoroughly and altered these in accordance with new guidance as well. There is a robust system of review and students’ representatives are consulted with as part of these reviews. 4. The Undergraduate and Postgraduate curricula have been extensively reviewed in recent years and the Undergraduate curriculum was fundamentally restructured as a result. 5. Following the 2011 Collaborative Partnership review, the Partnerships and collaborations Sub Committee (reporting directly to the Board of Governors) was constituted and this provides oversight at senior level to all matters involving provision with partner institutions. 6. As the University’s Self-evaluation Document details, the University produced a detailed response to the recommendations following the 2009 & 2011 Reviews and that gained full approval from the QAA as part of the mid-cycle assessment.


SECTION 3: How effectively the University sets and maintains the threshold standards of its academic awards Academic Standards 1. Assessment more challenging as the year’s progress1 Broadly speaking, based on the almost complete absence of critical comments to this end, this is not considered an area of concern among the student population however, without quantitative data to address this specific question, the drafting of the submission is drawn solely from the presence of free-text comments in the 2013 National Student Survey and the internal Leeds Metropolitan satisfaction survey. Furthermore, the Institution scored poorly on this aspect of assessment and feedback in the National Student Survey. 2. External examiners reports2 External examiners reports are made available at a Faculty Board and other Faculty level committees at which students are invited to participate. However, as will be discussed later, the student representation at these meetings is often hindered by either a lack of resource or timetable clashes which could be avoided through the effective scheduling of these meetings in line with course timetables. A full review of how the University intends to support student representatives’ discharge their responsibilities is required to make the performance in this matter less variable than is currently the case. At present the Union is not in a position to provide evidence of where this happens effectively or less effectively. 3. Assessment appropriate3 In general terms assessment is felt to be appropriate however there is a need to further explore the area of communication and why particular assessment methods are used such as group work as this would help to manage student expectations and increase understanding of why these methods are appropriate. It would also work towards reducing the instances highlighted within the open text comments within the National Student Survey results. There are a significant number of comments within the National Student Survey and internal Student Satisfaction Survey which indicate marked disapproval of the use of group work in assessment and the fairness of this method of assessment. This is expressed in the following (representative) quote from the open text comments of the surveys, the use of this method of assessment in the final year of a student’s degree programme is not welcomed as the impact of being placed in a low performing group could have implications for a high performing individual.


Evidence pack items 002, 003, 007, 009, 011, 012, 035 Evidence pack items 018, 031, 032, 033, 034 3 Evidence pack items 002, 003, 004, 010, 035 2


“No more groups work in Year 3! The degree is an individual achievement and should not be affected by group grades”. There may be some matters in terms of managing expectations or the effective monitoring / management of the groups during the completion of these assignments or projects. What is clear is that a number of students feel that their performance is potentially jeopardised when they perceive that others on whom they are to rely might be performing ‘below-par’. With the University’s commitment to embed employability within all curricula there may be some opportunity to link the nature of these projects to the ethos of the working environment. Moreover, one student’s experience however makes the point that there may be an issue in how the Computing course is assessed: “Far too much of the course is marked on written work. It is a computing course! We should be marked on our computing ability not our ability to write an essay. I have chosen Internet B (for those people who want to specialise in building websites) ... and we don't build a website!? I am lucky enough to have a part-time web development job and from experience, you learn from doing, by continual building websites with help from others - not from writing the advantages and disadvantages of something on a bit of paper!” 4. Feedback timely and helpful4 The National Student Survey results show that there is a significant issue at Leeds Metropolitan University (in common with the overwhelming majority of the sector) with regards to the standard of feedback that students are receiving. As can be seen in the evidence pack the majority of courses have shown significant decline in the questions relating to Assessment and Feedback. This is clearly an area of concern amongst students. 90% of courses had one from question 7, 8 or 9 (question numbers on the National Student Survey relating to Feedback) as one of their bottom 3 scores in the survey which indicates the need for immediate attention to this area of the student experience. The concerns of students are explained in more detail in the comments that they have stated regarding their feedback in the text comments of the survey: “I am now in my fourth year and I have only received about 10% of my marked work back with detailed comments on what I can improve on. You end up doing it all yourself.” “Uninvolved dissertation tutor who took leave during term and was posted to a foreign campus for the week before my dissertation was due in? This delayed or resulted in no feedback.” “Feedback on assignments was so late I only had a week to write the second.” “Don't get the feedback I need to improve my future performance. Some tutors seem disinterested regarding students’ academic performance.” “Some course staff have been confrontational and defensive towards feedback.” 4

Evidence pack items 002, 003, 004, 007, 009, 010, 011, 012, 035


“Too many students on the course mean that marking and feedback was rarely prompt.” The last of these comments is of particular concern given that a significant number of courses consist of large cohorts. The Students’ Union analysed this further by looking at the impact that cohort size might have on overall satisfaction with the course. This is best seen in one particular open comment from the National Student Survey from a student on a combined honours course: “One side of my degree has a lot more students and isn't very one-on-one. If you need a one-on-one appointment it's very rare and hard to get, in fact I'm not sure if you can get an appointment. The Language side is better and clearer than the Business side; there are too many students per tutor on the business side.” When this is considered alongside a year where the Institution has exceeded its recruitment targets, this shows a worrying trend towards there being even larger cohorts with roughly the same staff levels and declining student satisfaction in the future. A further example of where academic staff are clearly under strain is in the case of a part-time student filling in the National Student Survey: “Lecturer's timetables, often too full to have time to see part-time students on their day of attendance. Additional guidance given to full full-timers not passed onto part-timers.” However, it is clear that feedback is not a problem across the board as course areas such as Drama, Landscape Architecture, and courses related to Medicine etc. score well in the area of Assessment and Feedback in the National Student Survey. The Centre for Learning and Teaching’s “Feedback Friday’s” are helping to disseminate this good practice across the Institution. This practice should be expanded upon as an area of future development. The Centre for Learning and Teaching has launched, in partnership with the Students’ Union, a “Feedback Cards” initiative that will be rolled out to all current students this academic year. This initiative helps to educate students about when they should expect feedback, what should be included in their feedback and why receiving comprehensive feedback is important, as well as other key messages. There is also an award at the Students’ Union’s “Golden Robes Awards” that rewards academics who have provided students with excellent feedback. (The Golden Robes awards are organised by the Students’ Union and are funded by CLT) “The Full Circle” award is nominated purely by students. Anyone nominated receives a certificate and anyone shortlisted receives a golden certificate. The Centre for Learning and Teaching is committed to sharing the work of nominees in all award categories as examples of ‘best practice’ and building a resource base of interviews and other guidance from award winners with peers. 5. Grading criteria understood5 The grading criteria for modules and courses are available to students through their course handbooks which are mostly made available online. It is clear that Leeds Metropolitan University meets UK expectations in this respect but it is hoped that the Institution could exceed expectations in future. 5

Evidence pack 002, 003, 004, 010, 035


“Unfortunately, there was hardly any guidance on the assignment and this meant that a lot of the grades were low.” Also, given how low the scores in the National Student Survey have been for the Institution in relation to assessment and feedback it would appear that there is significant work to be done in explaining criteria for assessment to students in the future. This could also be improved by communication at course level about what is expected of students and moreover, what students can expect. 6. Plagiarism rules and procedures The Union notes the previous good practice identified at the time of the last Institutional review and acknowledges that this work has been expanded upon, in partnership with the Students’ Union Advice Service to identify 10 case studies for students relating to academic misconduct which covers the following areas: plagiarism, self-plagiarism, collusion and cheating. The case studies were designed and put onto postcards, posters and collated into a booklet which was distributed to students. This follows on from the work of the “Little Book of Academic Misconduct” which was a highlight of good practice at the time of the last review. At present, there is no central resource pool where this information is easily accessible and as such could be considered an area of development for this area of work as it is already the subject of praise from academic staff members. Significant partnership work has taken place in the area of academic misconduct and many good results have come from this work such as the “quote-unquote” tool that students are able to use. There are also discussions relating to the development and implementation of accessible information formed into a quiz that students complete at enrolment regarding academic misconduct which will help educate all students, regardless of background, to the various issues and differences within this area. Anecdotal evidence from the Students’ Union Advice Service would suggest that issues relating to academic misconduct may be cultural with international students often being involved in investigations. A potential reason for this is that in certain cultures it is acceptable to work together and share and use each other’s work.

7. Student involvement in new programme design Current students are engaged in some aspects of the design of new programmes and modules. Engaging prospective students, applicants and first years in what topics and programmes they would look to study may be a way of enhancing this work. This could then form the basis of the electives for 2nd and 3rd year for these students. In areas such as Games Design they are developing App’s in an App workshop that employs students to develop Apps for external parties. This offers these students invaluable experience of commissioned work.


Learning Opportunities 8. Staff fully trained 6 The Union acknowledges the clear commitment from the University to support the Professional Development of staff within the academic community through the work of the Centre for Learning and Teaching and through other formal training & development. This is evident through the initiatives to support staff through a postgraduate certificate in education. However, we feel that the role of CLT in developing academic staff within the Institution could be enhanced. There are various concerning comments that present themselves through the internal Student Satisfaction Survey conducted in 2013 regarding the standard of English, that certain tutors, in one particular faculty have. There is a concern that tutors are not being clearly understood by students as a result of not being able to effectively communicate in English. An example of many from the National Student Survey open comments explains more: “Other lecturers need to be assessed and taken off the course. Basic English language is missing on our Finance module; many lecture slides did not make sense.” “The lack of English teachers. I struggle to understand teachers; it's purely a language barrier. Sometime I think what they say isn't what they mean.” There is also a level of dissatisfaction with the Organisation and Management aspect of courses as evidenced through the National Student Survey results where this bank of questions is the second lowest performing aspect Institution-wide as can be seen in the evidence pack.

9. Feedback on lectures 7 Students are able to feedback on modules through mid-module and end of module evaluation surveys. It would be expected that effective use of these surveys would result in a trend in improvement when it comes to the National Student Survey and the internal Student Satisfaction Survey but our analysis appears to indicate no strong correlation to be found there. Student representatives also participate in Faculty Forums organised by the Students’ Union Faculty Officer and Representatives. This is a further opportunity for feedback to be gathered on lectures and seminars as well as students’ academic experience as a whole. Minutes from these Faculty Forums can be found in our evidence pack. It is not clear to the Students’ Union where changes have happened at a course level as a result of student views but at an Institutional level we are able to point to examples such as the Google tablet pilot, course handbooks moving online and accessible water fountains; all things that have changed as a result of student views. This will be explained further later in the submission.

6 7

Evidence pack items 002, 003, 004, 010, 035 Evidence pack items 002, 003, 004, 010, 035


10. Link between research and teaching The Union is aware of efforts to increase the number of teaching staff with doctorate qualifications but feel that this needs to be matched with a robust teaching strategy which incorporates interdisciplinary working and that builds upon academic research which has been undertaken here at Leeds Metropolitan University. There is no evidence that the Union is aware of that research is being linked to teaching here at Leeds Metropolitan University. However, the Union believes that this is an area to be explored and implemented in consultation with academic staff and students. In this area it is important to look at Leeds Metropolitan University in the context of it being an Institution with a focus primarily on teaching. As such, any research linked to teaching is based on tutors being up to date with present issues and concepts within their chosen field rather than breaking new ground. There are examples of tutors being considered sector leading and holding positions with various external bodies such as in the Health and Safety field with the course leader Tim Briggs recently being inaugurated as the President of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health which is the world’s largest health and safety body8.

11. Learning resources 9 In the main, students are very satisfied by the learning resources on offer at Leeds Metropolitan University. This is evident by the general improving trend in NSS scores relating to Learning Resources. Whilst the overall picture is positive regarding learning resources, the Union has concerns regarding the low satisfaction scores within course areas with large cohorts of students and where there is a strong need for specialised equipment and teaching such as Sports’ Science, the various music courses (Music, Music Technology and Music Production) and other specialised course areas. This is expanded upon further by a student in the open text comments in the National Student Survey: “FTU (Film Technical Unit) and the rules regarding borrowing equipment hinder students ability to work on projects outside Uni, and grow as filmmakers, which forces us to rent equipment from other companies and as students we don't have much money so it prevents us from being able to be the filmmakers we can be and our lessens CV's when trying to get into the film industry by not being able to do as many projects as we can. The amount of films we do before we leave isn't enough to stand out in the industry, and as many lecturers say we have to do as much as we can outside Uni and the rules regarding being able to borrow equipment seriously prevents this from happening, and is a big negative on graduating students’ opportunities for work” The Students’ Union also acknowledges that staff are a vital learning resource for students and this is something that is not captured within the National Student Survey. For courses with low staff resource but large cohorts of students, the satisfaction of these students may be impacted upon.

8 9 Evidence pack items 002, 003, 004, 007, 009, 010, 011, 012


From the University’s strategic plan it is clear that the role of the built environment is prominent and (as far as students’ perceptions of it, measured by NSS, SSS, ISB 2013) the University’s performance here is notable in how well the physical resources are scored. The Union is keen to monitor how this performance is maintained as the relative ‘newness’ of recently developed facilities fades. When looking at the element of learning resources in the context of learning opportunities and educational experience it is important to clarify what we mean by the term ‘learning resources’. Whilst it is clear from the questions in the National Student Survey that learning resources are defined as the classrooms, library and IT facilities the Union feels that this is a somewhat narrow perspective. As well as the very important role that the physical environment and resources can provide in the student experience it is important to also recognise academic staff as a vital aspect of learning resources. The lectures, tutorials and workshops that students attend play an integral role in any students’ educational journey. As such it is important to recognise the importance of developing the people that teach and enhance educational attainment within the quality facilities that score well in the National Student Survey. This line of enquiry brings up the area of staff to student ratios again and how any potential detriment to the student experience could be lessened. The University has invested heavily in capital projects that improve the estate and learning facilities on the campuses but there seems to be a strategic will to reduce the staffing costs as a proportion of Institutional spend. As a union we would much rather see the large sums spent on estates development, diverted towards to the development and retention of excellent staff within the Institution. The Union has raised concerns about the recruitment of large numbers of students onto some popular subject areas in 2013/14 and the effect this might have on the quality of the student experience. In conversations with the Institution and also at Academic Board we were reassured to hear that short term contingency plans utilising part-time staff to cover tutorials was now resulting in a number of full-time academic posts being created. When we start to see staff as learning resources, we start to recognise the unique contribution that they make to students’ journeys and experiences with Leeds Metropolitan University and the need to maintain excellence in all areas to ensure that every student gets an equal opportunity to thrive and learn. It is a reasonable assumption that in the main Leeds Metropolitan University, when looking at learning resources as a physical space or objects is exceeding the expectations of students. This is to be commended. 12. Student involvement in Quality Assurance 10 There is a strong level of student involvement at the very highest level of Quality Assurance with University meetings normally consisting of the President and Vice President (Education) sitting on decision-making meetings such as; Academic Board, Academic Quality and Standards Committee, Learning Teaching Enhancement Committee and Collaborations and Partnerships Committee. The 10

Evidence pack items 016, 017, 018, 020, 021, 023, 024, 026, 027, 028, 029, 031, 032, 033, 034


participation at this (top) level of decision-making works well due to the basis that the student representatives who participate in these meetings are full time, paid, sabbatical officers so therefore have the time to attend such meetings. Changes from these interactions have previously been alluded to in the Google Tablet pilot and Course handbook accessibility. Recently, at a faculty level, student representatives’ relevance in the Faculty Academic Quality and Standards Committee’s has been questioned and is currently subject to a review process. The Union accepts that student representation at these meetings is inconsistent. At present the students who have places on these committees are part time (6 hours a week) elected officers and appointed officials who are doing the role alongside their study and are often elected or appointed after the schedule of these meetings has been decided upon. Meetings are often scheduled at times when these students have contact time and as such, this presents a significant barrier to participation in these meetings. Whilst a review of student representatives on faculty level meetings is welcome, a better question to be considered would be to determine the barriers that are in place that affect student representative participation, rather than the relevance of them. As such, there is a definite area to be explored regarding the resource in this area and the support of course representatives more broadly. The Union is concerned that such questioning of student participation belies the current stated commitment to students as co-creators or partners in their education and moves (unwelcomingly) towards a perception that students are to be considered passive ‘consumers’ of whatever is to be served up for them and if it is not to their approval they can transfer to somewhere more palatable.

13. Effective Student Representation and their support 11 The Union is aware that at the time of the last Institutional review the Union was not in a strong position from which to offer insights to effective representation. However, the Union has undertaken significant work in furthering the independence of the student voice at Leeds Metropolitan and we are now far better placed to offer meaningful and productive viewpoints on this area. The University has recently match-funded the delivery of an online student representation system that is intended to improve the support in place for student representatives at the University. The funding for this is welcome and displays a clear commitment from the University for the student voice to be independent and supported by processes within the Students’ Union. In addition to the online system, which supports effective academic representation, there is a full time Education Representation Co-ordinator, a full time Sabbatical officer (Vice President Education) and 8 part time academic student roles, 4 of which are elected positions. However, the online system was developed by an external company and was delivered to the Students’ Union significantly behind schedule which resulted in a number of issues in the supporting of student representatives through the online system. We are determined that the same issues will not present themselves again.


Evidence pack items 014, 015, 019, 022, 025, 030


The online representation system facilitates the election and accountability of student representatives within the University. Once elected, student representatives are able to blog about meetings and training that they have attended. It also enables students on the same course to ask questions and raise points that the student representative can then take up with the course leadership team. All elected student representatives are invited to training sessions delivered by the Students’ Union in the first semester. The Students’ Union also delivers a course representative conference each year to further develop the individual skills and knowledge of student representatives. As previously discussed, all Course Representatives are invited to monthly Faculty Forums, coordinated by the Faculty Officers and Faculty Representatives. This provides student representatives with the opportunity to directly seek and source support with anything that they may be experiencing within the role and also enables the Students’ Union to gather feedback from student representatives. This can often form the basis of reports to Faculty Board meetings and the University Academic Board. Furthermore, senior academic staff from within the faculty and Library services are invited to these meetings to hear the views of students and take these on board and in some cases offer explanations as to why certain decisions have been taken. This dialogue between student representatives and senior academics is a valuable means of students engaging in enhancement activities and quality assurance. There is a clear need for academic areas to engage more consistently with the Students’ Union in terms of student representation, as efforts to improve the support of these positions is often undermined by actions at a course level in spite of the fact that effective student engagement in academic quality enhancement and the direction of learning opportunities is beneficial to course areas. More resource is required in order for the effective development and expansion of this area of work. Moreover, the profile of this work needs to be significantly increased within the academic community with both students and staff in order to really allow this aspect of the academic experience to flourish and to drive student satisfaction across the board upwards. The Union would like to place on record it’s thanks to Sally Glen, former Deputy Vice Chancellor for Student Experience, the Centre for Learning and Teaching, Barbara Colledge, Dean of Quality, Ieuan Ellis and Liz Mackay from the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Sue Palmer in the Faculty of Arts, Environment and Technology and Dave Knight in the Faculty of Business and Law for their strong ethos of partnership and collaborative approach to working. It is evident where their influence has been felt and where they have shown a clear commitment to go the extra mile in terms of expanding the provision for Student Voice at Leeds Metropolitan University by making time to attend student rep meetings, course rep training and conference events and developing student representation in their areas of work. It is through their dedication and hard work that students that have benefitted from their partnership work with the Students’ Union can very much be seen as co-creators of their educational experience.


14. Changes following student views 12 At the high levels of University decision-making there are a number of changes following students expressing their views. For example, the Google tablet pilot that took place was initiated by a student officer and taken on by the Centre for Learning and Teaching. Furthermore, course handbooks are now available online to all students following student opinion being considered. The University also installed a number of water fountains in each library following strong representations from students that this would be beneficial. With the clear differences in terms of consistency of engagement between ‘top-level’ interaction between student representatives and Director/Dean/DVC, and that at course-level, it is difficult to identify a comprehensive list of changes initiated at module or course level following student proposals, concerns or recommendations. This is an important factor with regard to building credibility with student representatives as well as academics and administrators. There is a need for a co-ordinated approach to this where the Union, University, students and staff are equal partners in the process. With the development of a student engagement strategy this is something that the Union believes is achievable in the future. There has also been a significant amount of work, in partnership with the University, regarding hidden course fees. It was identified as an issue by students to the Students’ Union that the course fee was subject to a number of additional costs upon studying on the course and that this was not in the interests of transparency and openness. As such, the Union undertook a large research project to identify where hidden course costs were and how much these were costing students. As a result of this work the Institution committed to specifically outlining any additional costs in the prospectus and other marketing documents from 2012 onwards. 15. Use of Evidence such as NSS to make improvements 13 The Students’ Union is aware of the use of NSS and other surveys to help guide the work of course areas. Each course area creates action plans following on from the latest set of survey results and aims to deliver improvements based on these plans. These action plans often form the basis of Annual Review meetings and the Students’ Union incorporates the overall University scores into student representative training at the start of each year. The union also recognises that NSS analysis is shared at Academic Board and interrogation of the data to help improve student satisfaction is very much welcomed. 16. Complaints and Appeals Students can find out about the complaints procedures on the University website, but as will be explored in the section regarding the public information, the website is not user-friendly. Students can find information regarding the appeals process through their course handbooks. However, it is felt that students are rarely aware of the informal and formal arrangements and procedures for making complaints.


Evidence pack items 002, 003, 004, 010, 014, 016, 017, 018, 020, 021, 023, 024, 026, 027, 028, 029, 031, 032, 033, 034, 035 13 Evidence pack items 002, 003, 004, 007, 008, 009, 010, 011, 012, 013, 014, 035


The information available regarding the complaints procedure on the University website is lengthy and in language that is not conducive to students being able to easily comprehend it. The informal complaints process is detailed in section 2 of the complaints procedure and is arguably the most fundamental aspect of the process. For collective complaints these can be raised through the student representative structure and dealt with in the first instance informally. There have been reviews of the academic regulations since the time of the last Institutional review that have taken into account the views of the Students’ Union Advice Service and student representatives. There remain concerns around the development of the ‘Fit to Sit’ aspects of the regulations and whilst there are caveats within the regulations that relate to exceptional circumstances it is felt that a review of this will be necessary in the future. 17. Timescales of complaints and appeals Students have 15 working days in which to submit their appeal. However, the University has exceeded its own specified timeframe and, in some cases, taken up to 8 weeks to make the student aware of the decision. There has for many years been no timescale for the Institution to adhere to but the Union is aware that there is and hopes to be involved in any future review of the timescales. The lack of a timescale in the past has been particularly problematic if an appeal was from a resit exam board as a student cannot enrol and gain access to their student finance. This means that these students have a significant disadvantage in comparison to other students. In the Union’s view there should be an unambiguous schedule which both parties have a duty to adhere to, which is equal in its appointment of timescales. 18. Employability in the curriculum The Institution delivers a “Futures Fest” (previously Employability and Enterprise Fortnight) each year to help articulate employability into the curriculum. Placements are offered on a variety of courses. These include the more traditional courses such as nursing and education related courses to courses such as Events Management. The Institution retains links with employers and this is something that will benefit students in the long run. The majority of courses offer some form of personal/professional development aspect or module. This is particularly evident in the Faculty of Arts, Environment and Technology where portfolio work is a large part of certain courses. The statistics regarding graduate employability are strong in terms of students that have gone on to further study or work with 90.9%. However, in terms of those graduates in graduate employment it is slightly disappointingly 67.6%. This does not reflect the efforts and resources that are directed to this area of work.


19. Satisfaction with careers 14 There is anecdotal evidence, from the Student Satisfaction Survey, that suggests that satisfaction with the University Careers Services is poor. It is clear that more resource is required to support the careers service for a University of this size with so many vocational courses. Careers advice can often become part of a tutor’s role and yet their time would be better spent improving the standard of teaching and learning opportunities they offer. It is also a feature of the International Student Barometer that this particular demographic of students, whilst not completely dissatisfied with the service do not rate it as well as other services within the University. 20. Disabled students satisfaction 15 From the National Student Survey data it is clear to see that students with specific learning difficulties are particularly dissatisfied with their experience of the Institution. There was one particular open text comment from the National Student Survey that highlighted this as a cause for concern, specific to the Events Management course: “The lecturers do not support dyslexic students the way they promised they would. I have been refused feedback on more than one occasion and this has made me very upset and confused.” 21. International student satisfaction 16 International students have access to pre-arrival information. This is applicable to both January and September starters and is continually updated by the International Office to ensure that the information is relevant to these students. The International Office also provides a meet and greet service for all international students at airports in the United Kingdom. Current students are recruited as student ambassadors to implement the service. International students are given the same opportunities to participate in “Welcome Week” activities as home students as provided by the Students’ Union and Services for Students. The International Student Barometer results show that there is a level of satisfaction with the welcome that International students receive (See Appendix 3, ISB Results PDF). Within the Students’ Union, following a reorganisation of the leadership (effective Autumn 2012), there is now an International Students’ Officer who is tasked with representing the views of International Students at a Union level, liaising with the International office and running change campaigns for this particular demographic. This position is elected cross-campus along with all other Full Time and Part Time Officer roles.


Evidence pack 004 Evidence pack items 002, 003, 004, 007, 008, 013 16 Evidence pack items 005, 006, 008, 013 15


It is clear from the National Student Survey results across the entire Institution that, of those European Union Students surveyed, a large proportion of them were satisfied with their Leeds Metropolitan University experience as can be seen in the evidence pack. 22. Online provision 17 The Institution works in partnership with Pearson Education Limited to deliver two online courses, Masters of Business Administration and Masters in Events Management. However, online provision for most students at Leeds Metropolitan University is used sporadically. There is a will for there to be more online provision and it can be seen in the free text comments of the National Student Survey that online provision often helps with the effective communication of feedback in a way that students’ value. The Union would like to see the online provision expanded and has made efforts through the online representation system to lead the way in this regard. The Union also welcomes the aforementioned partnership with Pearson and the development of further online provision for distance learners as an area of good practice. The role of the Centre for Learning and Teaching in E-learning is also welcomed and the further development of projects such as the Google Tablet pilots will advance this work significantly. The University also uses online submission sporadically but the Union is involved in partnership working with the Centre for Learning and Teaching to expand this practice to be more consistent across the Institution. 23. Satisfaction for work placements 18 Students on NHS funded placements are particularly satisfied with their experience of these placements as evidenced through the National Student Survey scores. This is an area of particular strength that the University should be proud of. In terms of student satisfaction with non-NHS funded placements there is little means of capturing this data at present other than in the open text comments of surveys. However, the Union has had input to the national consultation process for the National Student Survey and made recommendations in relation to capturing this data at NUS HE Zone Conference and through NUS and HEFCE’s online consultations. From the open text comments that have been made regarding placements it would appear that students are generally satisfied with their placement years as can be seen from the following comments: “On placement, I received 2 Johnson and Johnson Encore awards, a DePuy Never Stop Moving award, a contract extension through my final year and full-time work after Uni” However, even though this student has clearly excelled whilst out on placement and made a real impact upon their colleagues whilst working there, they go on to question the University’s 17 18

Evidence pack items 002, 010 Evidence pack items 002, 003, 004, 007, 008, 010


assessment criteria and relevance to the workplace for which the placement was intended by stating: “Even with all this in the bank I only received 60% leaving me in the bottom 5 of all the placement students, this makes no sense!” This is an issue also raised by another student of the University who had a positive experience of placement that did not reflect upon the rest of the course: “For a profession, which is reactive to practical situations, this course has provided next to nothing of practical scenarios/work. It's a good job I've had a placement year to know what actually happens in 'the real world'.” Whilst it is important to acknowledge that these students had positive experiences of being on placements, it is important to also see that these positives are carried throughout the entire student experience and not just the placement year where students generally feel less connected to the Institution. The University should most certainly be commended for performing well above sector averages in this particular area of work. 24. Student charter effectiveness and student awareness of it The Union is concerned that whilst the document makes reference to a list of entitlements, these appear to be sporadically enforced and, in our view, do not empower students in any way. The Union believes that a fundamental re-working of the document is required and is now involved in the review process. Following the initial approval of the document by a previous SU Executive, any questions as to the disproportionate tone or other concerns from the present Executive have yet to be acted upon. Moreover, the use of the term ‘entitlements’ when matched alongside the University’s Customer Service Excellence Standard appears to be having the effect of increasing the culture of consumerism amongst the student body. There are several examples within the open text comments from this year’s NSS responses regarding increases in this type of language being utilised by students as below: “Unable to request remarking of work when we are paying for this education yet at GCSE and A level it was allowed.” “Having to pay tuition fees whilst on a placement year when not attending University or having any affiliation with said University is a rip-off, just loading further onto the amount of debt students are already burdened with.” “The help staff in the library was almost completely useless whenever I had a query. Lecturers which add very little value to subject matter - may as well have just emailed us when the slides were on XStream - what are parents paying for?” There needs to be a move away from this consumerist mentality and this should start with the Institution changing its language concerning student opportunities and academic experience. 20

In place of the student charter and the entitlements there should be an acceptance of modern thinking within the HE sector by the development of a partnership agreement which details how staff and students work together in an academic community that is signed by all staff and students at the start of every year and subject to an annual review process. This would bring us in line with the rest of the sector and help to develop the work around student engagement. As such, the Union welcomes the current on-going work with the Centre for Learning and Teaching regarding a Student Engagement Strategy. Enhancement 25. Listen to the student voice in enhancement For projects such as the Google Tablet scheme, the online representation system and the Golden Robes awards, the University has been very receptive to new student-led ideas. The Union reserves special praise for colleagues in the Centre for Learning and Teaching for their invaluable input to the Golden Robes (student-led teaching) awards and the follow up from that with the implementation of a website dedicated to the winners of the awards which will be updated with the new winners this academic year. It is hoped that this will enhance the student experience by way of increasing staff recognition and reward. The Union would also like to formally commend the former Deputy Vice Chancellor (Student Experience), Sally Glen for her match funding of the online representation system and her constant support of furthering student voice within the University. The Union also wishes to acknowledge the significant contribution of colleagues within some of the faculties such as Dave Knight, Barbara Colledge (now Dean of Quality), within the Faculty of Business and Law, and Liz McKay, in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, for their continued support in advancing the impact and relevance of student voice amongst their colleagues within their faculties. All of these initiatives have been successful and this is most notably as a result of the ethos of partnership and co-creation that is exhibited by these colleagues. 26. Student awareness of educational experience and enhancement to it Whilst significant collaborative work has taken place in the area of student engagement and enhancement there is still extensive work to be done in engaging students in estates consultations given that this is a large proportion of Institutional capital expenditure. The Union would welcome any partnership approach to including students within these discussions in future. Students are primarily alerted to changes within the academic experience either through their course representative feeding back to them from a course meeting or a faculty forum, or they are alerted through “You Said, We Did� campaigns by the University. The latter is not an appropriate means of communicating this as it could be seen to undermine a partnership of equals in turn diminishing the true goal of partnership in enhancement decisions. It is hoped by the time of the next Institutional review that this aspect of the student submission will be redundant as all student-impacting decisions will be made with students at the centre of the


process in partnership with course areas. It is hoped that the Student Engagement Strategy (currently in development) will help ensure this is the case. 27. Ethos of continuing improvement19 It is clear to students that there is a significant amount of investment in the built environment of the University campus and other physical resources. The Union is concerned that this might only provide a short-term impact on students’ perceptions. To ensure a long term benefit to students, and to ensure that students become aware of an ethos of sustained and continuous improvement, the University should invest in the staff and the students of the University, as the current investment in buildings and physical environments only has an impact on a small group of people at any one time. This is with the exception of the University Library which is constantly seen as a valuable resource by many students. Moreover, in terms of an ethos of continuous improvement, faculty forums work towards this end goal and there is a strong indication that the formalisation of these meetings within faculty quality assurance and enhancement would be beneficial to the improvement of student experience. As was seen at a Health and Social Sciences faculty forum in December, there was significant positive feedback regarding course leaders, module tutors and staff within the faculty that could be used to highlight areas of good practice based on direct student opinion. At this forum the Dean of the Faculty was present and he was able to feedback to staff the value placed on them by their students which helped them in their continuous improvement. Furthermore, with the introduction of the Golden Robes awards it is hoped that this will breed a culture of continuous improvement that will highlight excellent practice from around the Institution and raise aspirations amongst staff. Public Information 28. University Website 20 Given the high reliance placed in distributing information through online means, it is reasonable to expect that the University website, and the information stored within it, be more user-friendly. It is very hard to navigate, especially for students with particular learning needs. There is a clear need for the University to have two separate systems: Internet and Intranet. At present there is little distinguishable difference between the two. At present, the University website (revised completely in 2012) is predominantly a ‘sales document’ that paints a positive light on every aspect of the University. It appears to have external audiences as its principal focus of attention. The use of UNISTATS next to course information is useful for prospective students to gather more information about the relevance and performance of the courses at Leeds Metropolitan University. The Union acknowledges that improvements have been made but students deserve a far more userfriendly site. 29. International Students language Support21 19 20

Evidence pack items 016, 017, 023, 024, 026, 027, 028, 029 Evidence pack items 010, 035


International students have the opportunity to access language support, but this comes at an additional cost on top of their course fees. The Union is aware that there has been a move to making this free to international students this year but this is something that needs to be implemented long term. This recent innovation is welcomed by the Union but it should now be made permanent. Thematic Element 30. Students’ views on employability In the new fees regime there is a clear indication from students that they value the prospects that each course and opportunity offers at University. This has become a priority in recent years and leads to many students looking for part-time employment to help develop personal skills within their chosen field or that can be easily transferrable to their chosen field. In 2013 the Students’ Union has seen an increase in the number of students seeking volunteering opportunities as these are more easily attainable and can often be more relevant to specific courses than many local part time employment opportunities. 31. Student engagement in employability Students engage in employability activities through a variety of means within the Students’ Union. These range from participating in a society, student media and volunteering opportunities. There has been a significant increase in the number of students interested in participating in volunteering this academic year as a result of students’ individual will to improve their prospects. A number of University sections and departments run a variety of programmes all sharing the term ‘volunteering’ as part of their description, even when there is an element of compulsion to the activity in question as in some aspects that are assessed for academic performance. There has been little coordination or monitoring of these initiatives and it is fair to say that while the array of opportunities undertaken is impressive, they are all run to varying practices, principles and policies. There is little to assure consistency of approach and there is a potential for reputational impact on the University if a number of sections approach potential community partners all purporting to be from the University. A possibility to include these activities in the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) project would also be welcomed so that student effort in anything they participate in is recognised.


Evidence pack items 005, 006


Recommendations The Role of the Centre for Learning and Teaching be enhanced In recent years there have been a number of developments and initiatives steered from the Centre for Learning and Teaching. Created since the last Institutional review, the Centre is primarily responsible for developing new approaches to learning and teaching within the academic community. The role of the Centre for Learning and Teaching should be enhanced to aid the sharing of best practice within the Institution. Identifying where there is an area for improvement in a specific aspect of the educational experience and pairing course areas and faculties up to share best practice with one another. Student Engagement Strategy – developed and implemented across all areas The Students’ Union is greatly encouraged by the preliminary discussions that have taken place regarding the development of a Student Engagement Strategy. There is a strong sense of partnership within this particular project and it is hoped that this will continue further to a successful end point with a well thought out and resourced strategy. The Institution is displaying a great deal of ambition and enthusiasm towards student engagement and this is matched by a clear and collaborative vision which is co-created by students and for students. A Student Voice that’s fit for purpose The Students’ Union is clear that Student Liaison Officers have no role within student voice. In the course of the last five years, the Union has evolved (rapidly) from a body more concerned with the social provision for that part of its membership conforming to the traditional perception of a participant in Higher education (18-21 year old school leaver) to a registered charity holding the view that representing the views of membership and seeking their best interests is the core function. Given that a number of issues have presented themselves with regards to the online system and the issues that this has caused to course areas, it is clear that this system provides a vital function for students and the Institution. A direct result of that is that more resource is required to ensure that the issues faced are not repeated and a clear statement is made about the importance of this work. Commitment to the Retention of Excellent Staff With the proposed removal of the cap on student numbers in a few years’ time and seemingly reducing the level of Institutional spend on staff; there is a strong need for a clear strategy on the retention of excellent staff in all departments and faculties to meet the expectations of an ever increasing student body. This is required in order to lessen the potential effects of disproportionate staff to student ratios.


The Golden Robes awards, delivered in partnership between students and staff, need to gather additional resource in order to increase their scale and impact. Promoting excellence is a core aspect of retaining excellent staff by recognising their contributions and rewarding the exemplars. Whilst the Union is aware that there may well be a strategy for the retention of staff, there is a need for this strategy to be given a higher status within the academic community.


Appendix 1: Evidence pack list of documents 001

Student Submission


National Student Survey Data 2013


National Student Survey Data 2012


Student Satisfaction Survey 2013


International Student Barometer PowerPoint (1) 2013


International Student Barometer PowerPoint (2) 2013


National Student Survey Data Conditionally Formatted


National Student Survey Demographic charts


National Student Survey Variance Charts between courses based on JACS Level 3 (2013)


National Student Survey Free Text Comments (2013)


National Student Survey Variance Charts with Leeds Metropolitan University Average line


National Student Survey Dial Display Screenshots


National Student Survey Demographics data


Students’ Union Course Rep Training Presentation


Health and Social Sciences Course Rep List


Health and Social Sciences Faculty Forum minutes


Health and Social Sciences Faculty Forum minutes


Health and Social Sciences Faculty Board (Student Representatives Report)


Business and Law Course Rep List


Business and Law Faculty Forum minutes


Business and Law Faculty Forum minutes


Carnegie Course Rep List


Carnegie Faculty Forum minutes


Carnegie Faculty Forum minutes


Arts, Environment and Technology Course Rep List


Arts, Environment and Technology Faculty Forum minutes


Arts, Environment and Technology Faculty Forum minutes


Arts, Environment and Technology Faculty Forum minutes


Arts, Environment and Technology Faculty Forum minutes


Course Rep Election Timescale


Arts, Environment and Technology Faculty Board (Student Representatives Report)


Arts, Environment and Technology Faculty Board (Student Representatives Report)


Carnegie Faculty Board (Student Representatives Report)


Carnegie Faculty Board (Student Representatives Report)


National Student Survey and Student Satisfaction Survey analysis presentation 2013


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