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STUDENT EXPERIENCE

transforming lives through learning, research and professional practice

APR 13


Editor Rebecca Haroutunian Communications Manager Assistant editor Phil Mills Communications Officer Channel magazine is published every two months by Marketing and Communications. Channel is available online at www.brighton.ac.uk/channel. Alongside this publication our online newsletter eChannel is produced monthly at http://community.brighton.ac.uk/ echannel. For the latest news about the university, please see www.brighton.ac.uk/news. For an insight into research conducted at the university, see www.brighton.ac.uk/research.

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Contact details Channel Marketing and Communications Mithras House Lewes Road, Brighton BN2 4AT +44 (0)1273 643022 communications@brighton.ac.uk Send your news to communications@brighton.ac.uk. Front page image Page 10: Rachel Braithwaite, Law with Business student Print and reproduction By L&S Printing Company Limited registered to environmental standard, ISO 14001. This magazine was printed using inks made from vegetable-based oils and without the use of industrial alcohol. 100 per cent of waste material used in production will be recycled.


Contents News 04–05 Student experience round-up News across the university

06–07 Peer assisted study a student-led initiative

10–11 Investing for the future News and updates

Lead features 08–09 Students’ Union – its members at the heart of all it does

18–19 Technology and the student experience

20–21 Special feature Sport Brighton

23 QAA institutional review

22 Sustainability Working towards a greener future

24 Events

Features

12–13

14–15 Team in focus Spotlight on Student Services 16–17 Focus on... Social informal learning spaces

20–21

22

12–13 Employability – adding new leads to the mix

08–09

16–17

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STUDENT EXPERIENCE ROUND-UP

Comment Carol Burns Registrar and Secretary

This issue of Channel focuses on the University of Brighton student experience and features some highlights of what we are doing at the university to deliver a transformational student learning experience. We want our students to value their learning and be active participants in their learning communities. The university is looking at the whole student life cycle in our efforts to ensure our students experience an enjoyable, stimulating and appropriately challenging environment. An environment where they are able to give of their best; to take a long-term view of their individual development and to have high expectations of their individual contribution. We are building on the success of our recently implemented Student Retention and Success Framework, aligning it with other institutional initiatives related to the student experience. Within this overarching framework individual schools’ existing effective practice can thrive and lead to further improvements in student engagement and their sense of belonging. Our new strategy for 2012–2015 shows our commitment to improving the student experience with our students being part of a learning community in which the physical and digital environment will support high value face-toface learning with academic staff, student peers, and external practitioners and partners. We are focusing on everything from new techniques in learning and teaching to more efficient timetabling, better communication and improved student support. It is important that we work with the Students’ Union and all staff to understand how we can meet the expectations and needs of students most effectively and provide them with an experience that challenges them, enriches their lives and equips them to be successful lifelong learners. There are so many initiatives underway to improve the student experience that this publication simply provides a taste of what has been done so far and some of the things being planned for the future.

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Student Retention and Success Framework In September 2011 the university launched its Student Retention and Success Framework (SRSF). There are eight core features to the framework which address some of the known student retention and success issues and each includes a number of core or recommended interventions.

Pre-entry We are using social media to encourage communication to, from and between students before they arrive. Marketing and Communications worked with schools to set up Facebook campus groups for new students and recruited and used online student ambassadors to provide extra peer support. The membership of these campus groups expanded rapidly from early August 2012 with a combined membership of nearly 3,000 by Christmas 2012. These groups continue to provide peer support and advice to their members.

Preparation and transition Student Services offers a range of workshops to help students who are finding it a struggle to make the transition to university study, to understand the level of study involved or are moving on to the next stage in their career. Re-freshers week, which comes in at the important six-week stage for new students, provides another opportunity for new students to remind themselves of what is available to help them. In addition, Student Services run Ask Us Anything stands across the campuses for students to discuss problems and get extra advice and support.

Student skills and knowledge development The peer-assisted study sessions (PASS) used at course level have been very successful (see page 6) and we have included information about the sessions on the Academic Study Kit (ASK) website at student inductions.

With regular reminders of the support available, we are making this a clearer part of the journey for students.

Academic experience We are continuing to develop more inclusive learning, teaching and assessment practices. This is the key area of the framework. As evidence from the HEFCE-funded What Works? research project highlights: “the heart of student retention and success is a strong sense of belonging in higher education, which is the result of engagement, and this is most effectively nurtured through mainstream activities with an overt academic purpose that all students participate in”. The framework requires that some kind of early formative assessment and feedback is in place by week six in all first year undergraduate modules. The student retention improvement team (SRIT) will be reviewing current practice across schools so they can offer examples of good practice in this area. Also under review across the university is the introduction of early formative assessment and feedback to provide students with the opportunity to avoid assessment failure before the end of the academic year. Social experience The use of social space – both physical and virtual – has been encouraged with the development and success of the campus Facebook groups and the social and informal learning space project (page 16). The Students’ Union runs a wide range of academic and other societies. Students can choose from a mathematical society and a food co-op to belly dancing and the WI. If there is demand for a new society then the SU will help interested students set one up.


STUDENT EXPERIENCE ROUND-UP

Professional services provision We are increasing the number of student support and guidance tutors (SSGT) in schools help and support our new students.

Monitoring and evaluation We are working to produce clear sets of data on student non-continuation rates that are easily accessible and understood by all, and schools’ progress against targets set will be monitored. Data is starting to show strong improvement in students deciding to stay at university.

Sharing and dissemination of effective practice Where there is good practice in these areas we will continue to share these across the university at the annual Student Retention and Success Framework event held just before the beginning of the academic year.

The framework in action Professor Jo Doust, Head of the School of Sport and Service Management, sees great value in the Student Retention and Success Framework. He said: “The fact that it is evidence-based means the school can move forward from wide-ranging discussions of what staff think might be helpful to a more focused use of what is known to be helpful.” The school also values the structure of the framework. It has extended the structure with two additional columns: school-level actions and course-level actions. Some actions are undertaken by school-wide units. For example, much of the pre-arrival work with prospective students is managed by their admissions team and student support tutor. In the first semester they plan for harmony between the university activity (Student Services, the Students’ Union and re-Fresher week), school-wide activity (induction week, student support tutor, skills modules), and course-specific actions (team-building events, student societies). This structure ensures all angles are covered but prevents pressure or expectation on individual courses that they too must cover everything. Professor Doust added: “Retention rates in the school have improved over the past couple of years but we still have more to do.”

Higher Education Academy Student Retention and Success Change Programme The university has been successful in its application to be part of the Higher Education Academy’s (HEA) Student Retention and Success Change Programme. The three-year project is being led by Rachel Bowden in the Strategic Planning Office and involves colleagues from a number of schools across the institution, the Centre for Learning and Teaching and the Students’ Union. The project aims to improve student engagement, belonging, retention and success by building on the learning from the What Works? research programme, through the HEA change process. The process is then evaluated together with the impact of the change. Three courses in the Business School, CEM and Hastings are part of the pilot and will be developing an intervention induction, active learning and teaching or co-curricular activities. The programme involves 15 other higher education institutions and a range of discipline areas

+Experience: working within the universitycommunity. Catherine McConnell, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Learning and Teaching is leading a project focusing on the experiences of students working in employed roles on campus. Funded by the HEA, early findings indicate that students identify significant benefits to working on-campus, such as increased feelings of engagement and belonging to the university, increased skill development opportunities, networking, CV enhancement, flexibility and convenience, as well as the obvious financial benefits. Significant numbers of students work on campus in a range of roles, such as student ambassadors, library and computer helpers, research assistants, sabbatical officers and peer learning tutors. The benefits of part-time employment to students is well documented, as well as some of the adverse effects which raise concerns about the impact of working alongside full-time study. However, a small number of studies conducted in the United States have found that there are significant advantages to students working on-campus alongside their studies, particularly on persistence, motivation and student satisfaction.

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NEWS

Peer-assisted study sessions (PASS) is a student-led initiative, providing a safe environment for students to make new friends, to ask questions and to improve confidence in their studies. First and second year students can discuss issues relating to course material and student life in friendly informal groups with their peers and trained student facilitators. The idea originated in America and was adapted and accredited in the UK 15 years ago. The University of Brighton has been running these sessions since 2009 with trained and accredited members of staff to provide support and guidance to the PASS student leaders. The student leaders – second or third years – are trained in leadership and facilitation skills, have regular debrief sessions where they can share their experiences both with their fellow leaders and with their supervisors. The PASS sessions are beneficial to both the students and the student leaders, helping to increase their confidence and to develop a range of transferable skills including team work and communication skills. Professor John Smart, Head of the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, explained: “We are very keen that students are heavily engaged in their learning and we believe students can get a lot from supporting each other. Not only do the students benefit a lot of support but the leaders also learn a lot of new skills.”

PASS made me feel more confident – at the start I felt like I didn’t know anything and by the end I felt like I knew what I was doing a bit more. First year biology student

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p Peer-assisted study sessions currently run in eight schools across the university.

Students who have participated with PASS report that they feel more confident in their understanding of course material and that PASS adds value to their student experience. PASS runs in eight schools across the university with 130 PASS leaders and continues to be developed where there is student and staff interest and challenging course material. For more information visit www.brighton.ac.uk/ask/pass or get in touch with Lucy Chilvers or Catherine McConnell in the Centre for Learning and Teaching.


NEWS

BRIGHTON AND SUSSEX MEDICAL SCHOOL

I found the PASS sessions very useful and insightful, having past students of the same course leading the sessions was particularly beneficial ... topics such as writing essays, planning presentations have been useful ‌ I feel more confident to speak in front of peers. First year social policy student

Peer-to-peer learning is a big success at BSMS. Fifth-year students teach third years on clinical skills, fourth years work as junior demonstrators in the dissection laboratories, supporting the teaching of the first two years. Some second years have set up mock objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) practice sessions for first-year students. OSCEs give students, on a one-to-one basis, the opportunity to show that they have skills such as procedures and effective patient communication.

p Peer-to-peer learning at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School has proved to be a win-win opportunity.

As a peer-teacher for the OSCE revision sessions, I helped to facilitate the clinical skills learning of the first-year medical students at BSMS. As well as improving my teaching skills, I found that the experience helped me to gain confidence in my own clinical competency. Nicholas Tollemache Second year medical student

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LEAD FEATURE

Brighton Students’ Union (SU) is placing its members more and more at the heart of all it does. It is a membership body and its members determine what it needs to do. Of course, the SU needs leadership to achieve this goal and that is where the sabbatical officers – who are voted into office by the membership – are invaluable. Together with the many student officers and volunteers throughout the organisation these elected members make a real difference to the shared student experience. Jacob Kahane, SU President, explains: “Much is written about the student experience and, in reality, of course it can be difficult to define. At the SU we perhaps have our own clear definition. For us, it is about students shaping their own experiences through committing to new challenges and opportunities. “This is best done in collaborative environments where peer support really makes the difference. In this way each student leaving the institution would not only be able to describe their own personal student experience but also track those activities that helped to shape it.” This academic year has witnessed a real surge in interest, across all campuses, for getting involved in the activities of Brighton Students’ Union (SU). Shining the spotlight on the SU societies illustrates that they are growing every week – both in the number of students engaged and in the range of activities being offered.

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While the SU recognises that not every student will want to be part of a society or take an active role, they believe it is important for them to work with all students to develop clear pathways to a first rate student experience. This includes active participation for the many, right through to empowered leadership roles for those who wish to change the students’ union, university or even society. This belief works because it is underpinned by a strong and accountable democracy.

Jacob continues: “We at Brighton SU have chosen a distinct path. We know we can’t be everything to everyone and to try will certainly mean we dilute ourselves – ending up being dull and indistinct. We are committed to being the most engaged union of our type, with clear purpose and clear meaning. We have set ourselves challenging targets for being recognised by students as making a difference to the quality of their university life and we have a plan of how to achieve this.“

First and foremost the SU understands that students value quality teaching and quality resources. They work with nearly 1,000 reps to help them understand and address the things that matter to them and those they represent. They also focus on the positives and an example of this is how they highlight both outstanding teaching and exemplary students through their Excellence Awards.

THE BSCOOP PROJECT

They are clear about when, where and why they provide a service or if that service should be provided by someone else – and to what standard.

The SU is also developing new approaches through a greater understanding of what a student cooperative is really like. They know that students are more likely to succeed by working together to achieve their goals and that this engenders a sense of belonging to the university. There is no better example of this than the BScoop project.

u Harry Wild and Nathan Bedford – members of the BScoop cooperative in Eastbourne – sitting in the new students’ union chill-out room.


LEAD FEATURE

We are committed to being the most engaged students’ union of our type, with clear purpose and clear meaning.

Led by a group of hospitality and event management students the SU building in Eastbourne is operating as a student cooperative to take forward plans to broaden the social and other uses of the facilities including the cafe/bar, meeting rooms and shop. In addition the students are developing valuable skills that they can take to future employers.

Brighton SU believes it has a strong and meaningful future because of its cooperative model of empowered students. This provides a new way of informing and inspiring a generation of Brighton students to take their place in a challenging society; one where, when they say “I did that at Brighton”, it is met with a warm smile and an implicit recognition of quality.

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FEATURE

Work placements have never been more important for future graduate employment. In a recent research study* over half of the recruiters who took part warned that graduates with no previous work experience have little or no chance of receiving a job offer from organisations’ graduate programmes. At Brighton over 90 per cent of full-time undergraduates have the chance to do assessed work-related learning as part of their course and we are working towards offering this opportunity to every student as part of our new strategic plan. The university has produced guidelines and best practice for work placements which provide practical advice to students – from researching companies to approach for placements and how to approach them; to considering the financial, practical and professional aspects of their chosen placement. This preparation and planning helps to balance student expectations and ambitions with the realistic and achievable potential experiences that will be available to them and is the key to a successful and rewarding placement year.

First and foremost I think my work placement gives me some serious CV advantage, a whole year of actual relevant work stands you in much better stead than a week here and a week there.” Rachel Braithwaite, Law with Business LLB student

*The Graduate Market in 2013, High Fliers Research

COMMUNITY UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMME The university is internationally renowned for its Community-University Partnership Programme (Cupp) which links the work of students and academics to local community issues. Cupp runs a number of cross-university modules which include practical or research opportunities addressing real community need and enabling students to get real world experience as part of their mainstream curriculum.

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Seminars attached to their practical projects introduce them to the different work sectors and how organisations are structured preparing them to think about where they might want to work and why.

BEEPURPLE The university’s beepurple entrepreneurship programme is made up of students, graduates and staff who are interested in developing their enterprise skills and their entrepreneurial ideas.

Some of the beneficiaries of the programme are already self-employed or have set up their own businesses and social enterprises. By taking part in beepurple activities, students get to meet like-minded people, hear how other recent graduates have set up their own ventures and gain key enterprise skills that will help them stand out from the crowd. The university Springboard grants offer sums of up to £1,000 to support entrepreneurial projects.


FEATURE

NEW BOARD TO BOOST GRADUATE EMPLOYMENT The university has launched a new industrial advisory board to help shape the agenda for computing and mathematics education and research, and to enhance graduate employment. The board comprises a panel of local, national and international industrialists and experts. Professor Miltos Petridis, Head of the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, said: “We are excited to be launching the industrial advisory board in computing and mathematics. It is an essential part of ensuring our courses remain up to date and relevant to employers’ needs so that our graduates get the best chance of employment and the employers get the quality of graduates they require.”

p Dan Pothecary, Education and English Literature student volunteered with Guestling Bradshaw CE Primary School.

p International Hospitality Management student Adam Pierce is spending his work placement at the Park Plaza County Hall hotel in London.

The placement has changed my attitude towards hotel management in a number of ways. It has provided me with a real insight into the day-to-day routine of managing a four star deluxe city hotel, as well as highlighting the dedication and attention to detail required to reach the level of management to which most hospitality students aspire.

TAKE A STEP FORWARD Active Student is the university’s awardwinning volunteering service. It can provide students with volunteering placements and opportunities in the local community that are rewarding, safe and supported. Volunteering looks great on graduate CVs – 75 per cent of employers say that they prefer applicants with voluntary work experience*. The volunteering placements in the local community are fun, interesting and often linked to students’ studies. They provide students with opportunities for personal development and also a sense of belonging to Brighton, Eastbourne or Hastings. The biggest reason students volunteer is to link theory to practice so the skills they learn in their studies can benefit the community and benefit them for their future employability.

Volunteering is really helpful in providing an insight in to how different places work and gain experience in career specific areas – in my case, a school. It is also a great way to network and get your face out there for when it comes to looking for placements and, in the future, jobs. It’s also great on your CV and would provide you with the edge in an interview as you have the wider experience that employers love.

*Source: Tearfund Survey

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LEAD FEATURE

FUTURE-PROOFING STUDENTS Over the past decade the term employability has become a buzz word in higher education and has been given several definitions. The Careers Service has adopted that proposed by Yorke in 2006 who defined it as ‘a set of achievements – skills, understandings and personal attributes – that makes graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupation, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy’. Employability is about being able to continually develop skills, knowledge and confidence through lifelong learning. As mentioned on page 10, one of the university’s strategic objectives is that all students should get the opportunity to do a work placement. Having undertaken a placement or any activity it is important that the learning outcomes are recorded and reflected upon and stored for future CVs and job applications. Students can be supported to do this through the new Graduate Toolkit materials that have replaced studentprofile as the university’s personal development planning. Students and staff can access materials such as learning logs and self-assessment sheets upon which they can record their employability development. It is also possible to store evidence online on studentfolio. During the academic year 2011–2012, the university, through the Employability and Enterprise Group, introduced new employability lead roles to raise the profile and quality of employability support for our students. They are a conduit for disseminating university policies and initiatives regarding employability, enterprise and best practice.

Academics who take on this role will encourage and support colleagues as they embed employability within courses. They will drive forward, within schools, the university’s initiatives on employability, including the new look career planning agreement which helps integrate employability and career planning within the curriculum.

EMPLOYABILITY LEADS IN ACTION The School of Sport and Service Management at Eastbourne has introduced an Employability Hub. The hub is led by principal lecturers Helen Atkinson and Rob Harley – assisted by Julie Gibson and Jan Adams. Their aim is to improve students’ employment prospects and help encourage enterprise, social engagement and employability amongst their students and alumni. With a large and important programme of formal placements to support, the Employability Hub will also work closely with careers and business development colleagues to maximise benefits to students. Helen is working with the Employability Hub team to prioritise their activities in consultation with academic tutors and course leaders in the school. They are starting with a review of their current position to understand where they are on employability across the school. So far this shows employability skills, work simulation or work experience are available in all courses.

The role of higher education is more than simply to provide fodder for the jobs market. It is to help individuals learn, reflect and grow, to develop a range of skills and attitudes for lifelong success. Helen Atkinson, Principal Lecturer

Once the review is complete, they will work with course teams to identify what employability means in each of their distinct professional domains and what priorities and challenges are facing them. The Employability Hub will then support the embedding of employability by course teams across the school. Working with other units within the school, such as learning and teaching, student experience, they will promote school-wide initiatives that facilitate retention, satisfaction and employability amongst their students.

The School of Sport and Service Management Employability Hub team (left to right) Rob Harley, Jan Adams, Julie Gibson and Helen Atkinson. u

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LEAD FEATURE

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FEATURE

At the heart of all that Student Services do is the difference that they can make to individual students, and to the wider student experience, throughout their journey through higher education. To ensure that their service is the best it can be, the team is externally assessed and accredited every three years, and evaluates their activities regularly to measure their impact and value. The department covers student finance and advice, student wellbeing and counselling, equality and diversity, careers, enterprise, volunteering, international students, nurseries, disabled students, and chaplaincy. Also provided are e-learning activities, e-counselling, drop-in sessions, mentoring, coaching, guidance and one-to-one interviews.

Employability skills programme – an initiative from the Careers Service that helps students develop their career plans and enhance skills they may need in the workplace. For example, the programme covers making your experience count, applying for graduate schemes, becoming confident and employable, writing an effective CV and interview skills.

To reach students, who are increasingly choosing to obtain information online, Student Services has expanded its online self-help and information via social networking including blogs, Twitter and Facebook. “We work with colleagues across the university” explains Rachel Page, Information Manager, “to signpost information to students at the right time, and target specific services at particular points in the academic year.”

Transform Your Life programme – a three-day course helping new or impending graduates with their employability: to give them the skills, motivation and confidence to get the job they want.

Many courses embed Student Services content in curriculum sessions. In addition, there is a range of extracurricular events, designed to enhance student’s personal development. The events calendar (the student life calendar) pulls together university-wide activities and is easily accessible by both staff and students. Stress and anxiety management workshops – these workshops are offered by the counselling team in partnership with local NHS services to help students understand stress and anxiety, consider the symptoms and learn useful cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) techniques for managing those symptoms.

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Study skills workshops – for students wanting advice on what studying at university involves, how to sharpen up their writing, planning and reading; preparing and revising for exams; and research skills. The first term is always a busy one for Student Services. In preparation for the arrival of the 2012 cohort, members of the team featured in a series of short advice videos, which were available on the university’s website and social media pages. The advice was tailored to support new students in their transition to university and covered volunteering, part-time working, health and wellbeing, money and disabilities. A highlight of 2012 for the careers team was the Careers Fair hosted at the American Express stadium in November, where more than 3,000 visitors and over 100 employers

attended. Employers, such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Brandwatch, gave positive feedback, stating they were impressed by the quality of candidates from a variety of disciplines. In 2012 the university’s international orientation programme was the largest in four years, with 337 students attending from over 60 countries. It demonstrated an effective collaboration between Student Services, Registry, Marketing, the Students’ Union and other key university colleagues. “From the very first moment that I arrived at the airport,” recalls an international student, “I was greeted by friendly faces and made to feel welcome. I was secure in the knowledge that I would be guided and advised about important issues.” Other joint activities include the Welcome programme and Re-freshers event in November, where the university re-engages with first year students, who may have missed key messages during their first few weeks. One student commented: “The university offers many resources for students to complement academic study. The more chances students get to know what’s available, the better.” To find out more, visit www.brighton.ac.uk/ studentlife, or follow us on Twitter, @brightonstudent.


FEATURE

Student Services offer help and support in person and online throughout our students time at university, and beyond.

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FEATURE

Tom Munson and Carly West, two Brighton Interior Architecture graduates, have been working with Professor Anne Boddington Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and Steven Jones from Estates and Facilities Management on an innovative project to introduce social informal learning spaces (SILS) across the university.

The project builds on the work of the Centre of Excellence for Teaching and Learning through Design (CETLD) and aims to support graduate designers to create new spaces for other groups of students and users. The project focuses on unused or underused spaces and existing communal spaces across the university’s campuses, and looks at these spaces to create vibrant, stimulating and positive environments for conversations, socialising and learning.

“Students don’t just attend university for the concentrated study of a particular subject – as this can now be carried out online at any venue or in the home. Universities need to provide opportunities for informal dialogue, collective and social learning and the opportunity to interact on a one-to-one basis in a supportive environment. This project aims to create environments that allow for and encourage such activities and to create new kinds of learning spaces.”

Through discussions, conversations and questionnaires, the design team gathered feedback as to what students and staff felt was most important for a productive and enjoyable working and social environment that encouraged people to remain in the university and learn collectively. Key areas that tended to score consistently highly included the need for comfortable seating, consistent access to WiFi and to power, access to refreshments and longer opening hours.

Steven Jones, project manager, explained: “Universities and creative institutions all over the world have recognised a need to address changing student needs and have invested in new environments specifically designed to accommodate them.

The first phase of the project involved early research work to identify the university community’s definition of social and informal learning and what students and other users would want from such spaces.

Tom Munson added: “The environments that are eventually created will have been directly informed by the users – that is students, staff and our visitors. All users will be central to the design decisions taken and be involved throughout the process.

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FEATURE

Some of the Ideas being developed for Watts at Brighton and Queenwood at Eastbourne.

“These decisions will then be evaluated by users so that the designers can reflect on and adapt their design ideas in new projects and, in the process, the university can learn from these experiences.” Carly West added: “Our designs are in the form of sketches, plans and 3D visualisations that show how spaces might be arranged and what could be in them in order to create inspiring spaces to work, meet and socialise. We are now developing the first of these into designs for implementation ” The project team developed a list of principles and values that underpin the process, from their initial site studies, discussions with users and stakeholders through to design, implementation and evaluation.

The team is aiming to achieve its SILS goals by making the spaces comfortable and attractive destinations in themselves – drawing people to them and encouraging them to stay. At the same time they will be bold and ambitious – testing assumptions and the status quo, evoking interest and energising, inspiring and stimulating the user. A brand for SILS is being considered with the student body and university users so that everyone is clear where these areas will be. The university has committed £400K of Invest To Gain funding to create the first of these models for social learning areas that could be integrated into future refurbishments and also incorporating the SILS principle into the designs for new buildings. A set of criteria, derived from early principles, are also being developed for SILS spaces to adhere to, in order that the process is systematic and the outcomes can be evaluated.

It is hoped that these will provide future guidance for the creation of vibrant and stimulating social and informal learning. Professor Anne Boddington, who chairs the project group said: “It is positive to see our graduates implementing research findings as a means to support and improve students’ experience and learning. Carly and Tom have created a broad palette of ideas and the first installations should be completed in the summer of 2013. Our spaces have become places that encourage communities of students and staff to talk and to spend longer working and socialising within the university. These first prototypes will signal a conceptual and symbolic change, as well as creating a more welcoming and conducive atmosphere for social meetings, conversation and collective learning, before and after lectures as well as simply somewhere to relax.”

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LEAD FEATURE

and the student experience Technology is a vital part of modern life, and of the student experience. Blended learning (BL) is an exciting concept, combining face-to-face and online learning, that enables lecturers to be creative in their teaching and academic support; engaging and enthusing their students. Staff across the university are using blended learning to great effect. Here are some examples. REVERSE LEARNING Bhavik Patel in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences has taken advantage of readily available technologies to provide a ‘flipped classroom’ experience. The students access a learning package on studentcentral that consists of recorded lectures covering the key concepts, alongside a blog and a discussion area. This format allows students to post questions and comments on areas of difficulty before their face-to-face sessions. By using the information students post online, Bhavic can tailor his teaching to tackle the areas of learning students have found challenging and and focus on helping students to apply their knowledge in the face-to-face sessions.

INTERACTIVE AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION Poll Everywhere is an online voting system that allows students to answer questions in real time using text messages or on the web. Lucy Chilvers has successfully used Poll Everywhere to enable her to capture student feedback on the peer-assisted study scheme (PASS) during student face-to-face sessions. Using Poll Everywhere to obtain live feedback has made it simple for Lucy to evaluate how well students understood PASS, ensured they were getting the support they needed and reinforced the benefits of the scheme.

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Students were able to respond to the questions using their phone, tablet or laptops and this meant it was convenient to use in lecture rooms with large numbers of students. Students benefited from being able to view the results of their votes instantaneously on screen and enjoyed the ability to contribute to the session.

Heather Baid, School of Nursing and Midwifery, uses Turnitin’s online marking tool, called Grademark, to deliver feedback to her students. Heather utilises various feedback options such as rubrics and on the paper comments to provide detailed and consistent feedback whilst making the marking process more efficient.

E-SUBMISSIONS AND FEEDBACK

In turn, she is now able to return her feedback to students more quickly. The feedback is released online through studentcentral and students are able review this immediately from their computers. Students have responded well to the introduction of online feedback.

Submitting work electronically for assessment, gives students greater flexibility to complete their assignments at a time and in a place that suits them. It removes the need for students to travel to a university campus to hand in work and the cost of printing it out. Submission deadlines no longer need to be restricted to the opening times of school offices and the hassle of queing before a tight deadline. The university uses the TurnItIn software to facilitate e-submission of text-based assignments. Turnitin is neatly integrated with studentcentral to provide students with a place to upload and check their submissions. As part of the submission process, students’ work can undergo an originality check that matches text against a repository of other students’ assignments, web pages, journals and books to help students avoid plagiarism and ensure they have referenced their work correctly.

THE STUDENT LIFE CALENDAR Departments across the university have coordinated their energies to produce the student life calendar. It was developed to provide a single point of reference for students to see all of the university’s upcoming events. Students benefit from having a unified calendar that is prominently displayed on the studentcentral home page. Advertised events include the academic calendar, study support, health, sport, students’ union, alumni, volunteering, wellbeing, careers and IT workshops. All of these important services are now clearly promoted and the calendar acts as a signpost for students to take advantage of the support they offer.


iPad

LEAD FEATURE

USING IPADS TO RECORD PRESENTATIONS The introduction of mobile devices into the classroom has offered academics and students new opportunities to make learning more flexible and accessible. Courses across the university have begun to explore the potential of mobile learning using tablets.

Adrian Carpenter, Senior Technician and Demonstrator in the School of Sport and Service Management has supported the introduction of iPads to record student presentations. Adrian has found that placing an iPad on a desk is far less intimidating for students than being faced with a traditional video camera mounted on a tripod, and being more relaxed they have given better presentations.

p Students Zack Smith and Chloe Robinson use iPads to record their presentation on why study hospitality management at the School of Sport and Service Management at Eastbourne

Lecturers have found the iPad simple to use and quick to set up at the start of the presentations. The only addition needed is a cheap stand that allows the lecturer to angle the tablet to get the best view. Once recorded, presentations are downloaded to a desktop computer for lecturers to review, show to external examiners for assessment or play back to students to let them see how they performed.

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FEATURE

Taking part in recreational sports activity at the university is on the increase. Data from the university’s Parklife programme showed a 141 per cent increase in participation for last year alone. Parklife puts improving student experience amongst its core aims. We look more at the programme, its successes and how it can deliver on improving student experience. Parklife is the university’s recreational sports programme and has been operating for nearly 10 years. The ethos of Parklife is simple; to engage as many students as possible in cheap, fun, social and accessible physical activity. The programme offers 60 sessions a week, each costing £1 or less. Activities range from football leagues to introductory judo. Parklife is supported by the university and the Students’ Union. In addition to this support, the project has been successful in gaining funding worth £182,602 from the National Lottery and Sport England.

The lottery-funded element of the Parklife programme engaged with over 10 per cent of the total student population at the university last year, demonstrating its reach. Michelle Page, Deputy Head of Sport, highlighted the programme’s broader appeal: “Parklife has been a great way to engage with students who think they are not sporty. The mere mention of sport had them walking away previously, but activities like dodgeball, table tennis, fencing and swimming seem to draw in even the most reluctant sports person.”

Sessions take place on or near all of our campuses: partnerships with local providers have enabled Sport Brighton to provide services in locations where they may have been absent before. The most successful of these partnerships has been with the Freedom Leisureoperated swimming pool, the Prince Regent. Located in central Brighton, the pool offers daily turn up and swim sessions for just £1.

The positive impact on student experience is more far reaching than that of simply enjoyment or health benefits. As Sarah Hogg, Head of Sport, explains: “We have used Parklife to highlight the vital role sport plays in promoting lifelong health and wellbeing. Sport helps our students to develop transferable skills, experiences and attitudes that can enhance other areas of life and add value to graduates in the job market.”

Since September 2011 this partnership has attracted over 1,500 students and staff to go swimming. Brighton has the second highest number of participants in this lottery-funded project, out of the 48 universities taking part.

In the past year, 47 students have come forward to assist in the running of the programme. Volunteers have mentor support from Sport Brighton which sets out achievable aims and personal development targets.

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p Volunteer Richard Ferris who is in his third year of a Business Management with Marketing degree.

Volunteering has added value to my CV and I have developed my own organisational skills as well as enjoying sport which is fun. I recommend volunteering, it will give you opportunities to help others develop as well as yourself.


FEATURE

This one-to-one support has enabled volunteers to gain added value from their experience, with a number taking up offers of subsidised sports-related qualifications. Volunteers get heavily involved in the programme. They offer support in its promotion, facilitation, monitoring and development. Any student can register an interest to volunteer. We offer volunteer opportunities in all areas of the Parklife programme – from facilitating sports sessions and promotional activities around campus to film-making or photography.

Once registered, Sport Brighton meets with the student to discuss what they would like to get from volunteering and then matches them to available opportunities. In order for students to get the most from their volunteering experience, Sport Brighton also offers an induction programme as well as providing opportunities to gain qualifications and attend training such as CV workshops. Students can just email studentsports@brighton.ac.uk if they want to get involved.

The use of volunteers not only benefits the volunteer but has also had a positive impact on the success of the programme. Peer-to-peer promotion, word of mouth and full engagement in the overall programme has helped to enable Parklife to remain student focused and increasingly popular.

p Sport Brighton student volunteers were rewarded last year with an experience they will never forget by spending a day at the Olympic park taking in handball, hockey and athletics.

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FEATURE

The University of Brighton was in the top three of 145 universities and higher education institutions in the People and Planet Green League 2012. This achievement is testament to the commitment given to sustainability by students and staff. People and Planet said the university’s success in integrating sustainability throughout the curriculum and finding creative ways to engage staff and students in the transition to sustainability is exemplary. University life is not only about an academic education. It is also about the habits, interests and lifestyles that are discovered, tried and tested while at university that go towards make our graduates the people they are. The University of Brighton aims to become a centre of excellence in building sustainability into research, teaching, learning and our work with local, regional, national and global bodies. We are producing graduates who are known for their commitment to making a positive impact, for engaging with sustainability in their chosen field, and with local and global communities. From the moment students arrive until they graduate and beyond they are given every opportunity to be part of the university’s sustainability agenda. The c-change campaign brings staff and students together to look at different areas of work for schools and departments and explore how they can become more sustainable. Sustainability Action Networks look at wider sustainable issues at the university and encourage grass root development. We actively encourage students to involve themselves with sustainability initiatives in their communities and provide opportunities to join in with fun and interactive events. Sustainability is a key pillar of the University of Brighton, both through our own practices and processes, but more importantly in the ways we can shape the graduates of tomorrow.

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FEATURE

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is a UK-wide organisation that aims to safeguard standards and improve the quality of UK higher education. They check how UK universities and colleges maintain the standard of their higher education provision and report on how institutions meet their responsibilities. This is called institutional review and the next one takes place at Brighton in March 2013. t (left to right) Sarah Plumeridge, institutional facilitator and lead student reviewers, Anty Bursac, Students’ Union Vice President Academic Affairs and Heather McKnight, Students’ Union Academic Affairs Manager – working together on the institutional review.

Our review this year will be a hybrid institutional review in which there will be greater attention given to our collaborative activity than under a standard review. The review team will visit two of our partners Plumpton College and KLC School of Design and visit the university in the week of 18 March, when the review team will meet with staff and students, and assess our quality assurance methods. The institutional review annual theme for 2012–13 is Student Involvement in Quality Assurance and Enhancement.

HOW ARE WE ASSESSED? Institutional review involves the university completing a self-evaluation document (SED) that addresses 21 expectations about how we manage quality and standards (such as using external examiners, supporting the entitlements of disabled students, ensuring there are sufficient learning resources, and supporting professional standards in learning and teaching). In addition, the university’s students’ submit a student written submission (SWS) to the QAA which describes how they think the university manages quality and standards.

All reviews have two elements, a core and theme. The core element of the review explores the university’s management of threshold academic standards, quality of students’ learning opportunities (teaching and academic support), enhancement of students’ learning opportunities and quality of public information provided for students and applicants.

Stuart Laing, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, added: “The university has always engaged positively with the QAA review processes and we are expecting a positive outcome from this next one. The QAA plays an important role in safeguarding standards in higher education, improving public understanding and driving improvements for students and the university fully supports this work.”

A judgement is made about each of these and we are graded on whether or not we meet UK expectations, require improvement or are commended for our achievement in those areas.

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FEATURE

Events INAUGURAL LECTURE Shirley Bach Where angels fear to tread Wednesday 24 April 2013 Westlain House Lecture Theatre University of Brighton 6.30pm

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Channel Magazine April 2013