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Heads of Department Update 14 December

Hi Everyone

This is information only, but its some really positive feedback from the student community about their evaluations of the education and experience we’ve provided during the first term. I thought you might be interested to see some of the highlights – they are a testament to the great work that has been done by academic and professional services staff across the institutions. Below I’ve shared headlines from the main student survey and well as some findings from regular focus groups.

Term 1 Student Survey – UG and PGT (3784 respondents. End Nov and Early Dec)

  • Satisfaction with the quality of online teaching (73% rating good/very good), and academic support received is high (71%).
  • 61% of students rate the combined approach of online and face to face teaching as good/very good.
  • Students who had an equal amount of (or more) face to face teaching were much more likely to be satisfied with the approach to blended learning (82%) , than those who were accessing online only (53%). They were also more likely to rate the quality of their online teaching experience as good, and feel connected this term.
  • Connection is the area of lowest agreement, with over half of students feeling connected to their department, and a third connected to other students on their course. Only 19% agree they have felt a connection to the wider university this term;
  • I think this warrants a big “congratulations” and “thank you” to all Departments for delivering so well under the most difficult of circumstances, but can I offer extra congratulations to SCAPVC GSD, SMLC, Applied Linguistics, Education Studies, CIM, Classics and Ancient History and WMS who secured particularly high ratings from their respondents.

Of course, there will always be areas for improvement, but I think that when we see this feedback and the results of the all-student vote that I shared a little while ago, I think we can be genuinely proud of the academic experience we have been able to give our students.

Overall Sentiment - Students studying at a distance

  • Responses to online learning at a distance have been broadly positive in the quantitative survey, with 77% of those studying remotely and experiencing online-learning only rating the quality of their teaching experience good/very good;
  • In qualitative work, many mentioned positives, including finding it easier to focus, preferring to study at their own pace, praising the experience of small group sessions and breakout groups, and the responsiveness of tutors and lecturers in responding to queries. Some appreciated the flexibility of the university allowing them to choose the option they were most comfortable with, whilst some simply enjoyed the convenience of studying at home;
  • Challenges this group face are similar to those reported by blended learners in previous feedback, with students finding online learning less engaging/ interactive, and some finding in person teaching more motivating;
  • The main bespoke barrier to this group was time differences, with many reporting 2am live seminars, requesting a range of time slots, or recording of all sessions to engage with at a later time;
  • First years in particularly were more likely to struggle to feel connected. Besides requests for considering time differences, this group thought departments could pair students together to study, and allow smaller interactive sessions. They also wanted to see real life staff and student photos/videos of campus on platforms they can access overseas.

Overall Sentiment - Term 2 expectations

  • Participants don’t expect next term to be much different to this term, with some feeling it will be more restrictive initially dependent on government decisions;
  • Respondents are looking forward to more in person teaching, and more social opportunities next term once restrictions end;
  • Commentary around the value of face to face teaching focusses on social/ engagement aspect rather than the quality of learning;
  • Nearly all students we spoke to were planning to be on campus in the new-year as they feel more motivated and find it easier to concentrate working on campus/away from home, and didn’t want to miss out on the social side of university, or any in-person teaching.



Professor Christine Ennew OBE