Provost's Perspective: why we want your feedback
7 November 2014
I hope that you're enjoying the new term as much as I am and that you're finding myUCL a useful source of information.
As you know, one of my top priorities is ensuring that each one of you has the best possible experience while you're studying at UCL. This means providing the best facilities, offering teaching of the highest quality and making certain that you leave with the knowledge and skills needed to contribute significantly to society and become leaders in your chosen field.
At present, there are two main tools that we use to tell whether we are succeeding in these goals.
The first is the Student Barometer, a twice-yearly survey that benchmarks UCL against 100 other institutions in terms of student experience - asking you about the teaching that you receive, the feedback you get on assessments and whether you would recommend studying at UCL to other people.
The other is the National Student Survey (NSS), which is aimed at final year undergraduate students and asks a series of questions about areas such as teaching and learning; learning resources; personal development; and overall satisfaction.
However, I'm aware that many of you also receive surveys from your faculty or department as well as termly evaluation forms for each of your modules. Is this too many? And are we asking the right questions?
In an attempt to answer these sorts of questions, I've asked Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education), to look at this whole area.
In particular, he will examine how UCL can become more open to student feedback and how to encourage more of you to participate in the feedback process.
As its chair, he has also asked the Student Experience Forum to monitor the feedback that comes from the NSS and the Student Barometer, and to take action where necessary to respond to your concerns.
One proposal that has already been made is that departments should discuss their NSS results and the accompanying comments with their students and work with them to draft improvement plans.
We have also just launched a scheme called UCL ChangeMaker Projects, which offers funding to interested students, working in small teams, to carry out research into a student experience or curriculum-related problem, and come up with ideas, to implement in partnership with their department or faculty, on how to address them.
This is a great way to enrich the educational experience that you and your peers receive, while enhancing your CV in the process, and I encourage you to take part. It forms part of a wider initiative, called UCL ChangeMakers, which launches in April 2015 and will offer even more opportunities for you to influence the student experience at UCL.
Even where there are departments that are already excelling, our aim is to push for further innovation - introducing new ways of teaching and new courses.
That's why we've launched Connected Curriculum, a university-wide programme to ensure that all UCL students are able to participate in research at all levels of their programme of study.
As well as defining the relationship between students' learning and their participation in research, it also describes the connections to be made between disciplines, years of study and staff and students.
We are also looking at how we can improve the use of online tools such as Moodle, Lecturecast and MyPortfolio to support and enhance your learning. We want to develop these tools to support research-based and connected learning and will be asking you for ideas and input.
Indeed, we want to fund and support a student-led project to design and develop additions and enhancements to UCL's e-learning environment - watch this space for more information about how to get involved.
You will also have a chance to find out more and share your ideas about technology at Digifest - UCL's unique festival of all things digital - which takes place next week.
I hope that from what I've said, you realise just how much we value your feedback and that we are continually looking for ways to improve how we respond to it.
Professor Michael Arthur
UCL President & Provost