Minerva reflects on the Student Voice Group and student feedback channels

This is the second in a two-part series of blog posts by newly appointed members of the Student Voice Group, sharing impressions of an induction event that recently took place in London

I am sure that many of you can relate to that anxious time a few months ago when our results were released? Well, that day finally arrived and I felt a great sense of accomplishment having passed all my courses in my first year of the LLB.Minerva

As if this was not enough, the next day I received the surprising news that I had been selected to join the Teaching and Learning Environment (TLE) panel of the Laws Programme Board as a student member. By extension, this appointment further entails being a member of the Student Voice Group (SVG).

What can I say; years ago I dreamed of embarking on studies with the University of London and eagerly awaited the right time to register on the LLB programme. I knew that studying with the University of London would be a rewarding experience not least due to the caliber and historical vitality of the University. But I certainly never imagined that my study experience would come to involve this unique opportunity to engage with the University via the Laws TLE panel and the SVG in London.

And now time to get to work. The duties of this role started with an Induction Day on September 1st at Senate House, which was attended by the student members of the various committees. We were introduced to the work of the committees and heard from leading members of staff at the University of London International Programmes on topics related to student engagement and academic governance. It was evident that the University is strongly committed to engaging students and having our voices count in the continued evolution of the International Programmes. It is to this end that the University has moved in recent years to adding student members to a number of its committees. I also noticed that they seek to hear our voices by opening new feedback channels and strengthening existing ones, as well as ensuring that such channels are effective by ‘closing the feedback loop’.

An important thing that was noted is that we are not student representatives, as we were not elected. This means that we can’t, in the true sense of the word, represent the views of other students. Although all students share many common goals and issues, the committees are aware that each student’s views are colored by their specific situation and that their needs vary accordingly. Thus, as student members we merely add one voice to discussions at committee meetings and this works alongside more representative feedback that the University receives from the student corps via the various surveys. Therefore, I would strongly encourage you to complete these surveys. The University values the feedback provided therein, so the surveys ultimately truly impact the student experience.

As I mentioned earlier, the Induction Day took place at Senate House, which is a Bloomsbury landmark steeped in history and has served as the University of London’s headquarters since 1937. As part of the Induction Day we had a chance to tour this memorable building and see fascinating spaces such as the Library and the Senate Room. The tour was topped off with a grand view of London from the Senate House rooftop!

group photo 4

We also had a peak behind ‘closed doors’ and saw the offices of some of the people who make our study experience happen – members of staff who prepare our boxes of study materials, and send examination papers to exam centres all over the world!

The Induction Day was followed by the first SVG meeting of the current academic year, where we discussed issues such as students’ sense of identity. Two further SVG meetings will take place in the current academic year. In addition to the SVG meetings I will attend a further three Laws TLE meetings.

To conclude, the Induction Day was truly memorable. Adding student members to decision-making committees is but one example of how the University of London’s forward-thinking leadership exercises their commitment to enhancing and enriching the student experience. This continued evolution can be credited as one of the reasons behind the University’s everlasting relevance in the world’s classroom. And it makes me proud to be part of the World Class.

The next edition of the International Programmes Student Experience Survey will run in 2015-16. All students who have completed one form of assessment will receive an email invitation to complete the survey.

Student membership is an important element of YouEngage, the student engagement programme at the University of London International Programmes. Read more about YouEngage by visiting www.londoninternational.ac.uk/youengage

6 thoughts on “Minerva reflects on the Student Voice Group and student feedback channels

  1. Another excellent report to complement that of Sandy. The photo brings back happy memories of Induction Day. The great thing about the Student Voice Group is the mix of experiences we bring. May I re-echo Minerva’s plea to students to complete the various surveys we get sent. I find it embarrassing saying at Committee Meetings things like ‘I think students feel very strongly about this’ – when only 30% have actually expressed an opinion. Do please complete the surveys – your views really can make a difference.

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  2. Well, I agree a 30% response rate is very low. Hence, the results may actually be biased and not representative of the overall student population.

    I think too that it is in the interest of students to complete the surveys. However, it is possible that students underestimate the importance of providing feedback because the input they receive is not strong enough.

    I’m ignorant relative to the exact numbers/statistics (since the most recent Student Information and Performance Statistics 2012-3 doesn’t provide the following data I refer to) but I think that it could be useful to start by looking at the proportions of students pursuing their degrees at teaching institutions versus independent students.
    In my opinion – and I may be wrong on this – independent students pay much more attention to both VLE and e-mail correspondence with the University than those studying via affiliate centres. It is understandable that students at affiliate centres might not care enough about the surveys, as they should generally benefit from the extra support of the institutions they study at.
    On this basis, it could be fruitful to offer incentives or make these institutions sponsor the surveys more heavily by stressing their importance in the period preceding the actual survey.

    I don’t know whether my claims are supported by evidence or whether the UoLIP/centres are adopting these measures already. It’s just the opinion of an independent student and I admit with no data available I cannot really proceed any further.

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  3. Hello Peter, Minerva, everyone. Any further thoughts on what I said? Does it make sense to you or is mine just a biased opinion? What could we do to increase the low response rate?

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  4. Hello Oscar

    Sorry, I didn’t appreciate you were looking for a reply. I agree with what you said! As I mentioned previously, we come from many different backgrounds.

    Personally, all my studies with London International Programmes have been at postgrad level (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Royal Veterinary College) and to the best of my knowledge all of us study independently and do not receive any tuition from an approved teaching institution. I was Student Rep in 2012/13 for the course at LSHTM, and I know that there the response rate was only 30% (from a total of several hundred students).

    Some reasons for this are final year students think their studies are over and done with, and that they will not personally benefit from responding (a rather selfish viewpoint in my mind!), others are scared that if they appear to be critical it may be held against them – which of course is untrue! Others don’t like to appear too critical, especially if they think their tutors have tried their best. Perhaps they want to show mercy – in the hope that the examiners will also show mercy when they mark their scripts!! I am sure there are plenty of other reasons, some of which may have more than a grain of truth in them.

    We cannot force students to respond. Perhaps we should have a prize – say £100 Amazon Gift Voucher chosen at random for every survey that has been filled in fully. I agree, it would
    be interesting to see what other ideas people have for increasing the response rate.

    Kind regards

    Peter

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  5. Hello Peter!

    No problem at all. I didn’t mention I was looking for a reply in my first comment but then I realised it would have been nice to know what others think about that issue, hence I commented further by asking it explicitly :-) I really appreciate your reply, thank you.
    Well, I agree there might indeed be many reasons for the low rate. It would be great if the University (administrative staff, students, professors, etc…) could come up with some tricks/special ideas to increase it. I believe – and completely agree with you – that surveys can really make a difference and future students would benefit from our little ‘efforts’ today.
    Prize draws might be a viable option! Again, thanks for sharing your view!

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