Provost's Perspective: Your opinions drive change
5 November 2015
UCL is one of the world's leading universities, but we can - and should - be even better at giving you, our students, a world-class learning experience throughout your time here.
One important way we can achieve this is by taking a very careful note of what you say in student surveys and acting on it.
Student surveys are a catalyst for
improvement and influence the future direction of the university.
The Student Barometer
I am writing to you now because it's time to take part in UCL's largest student feedback survey, the Student Barometer. This was sent to your university email address on 2 November from UCLstudentsurveys@euro.confirmit.com.
We use an external company so that we can compare UCL's results with those of more than 100 British and overseas universities.
It will take about 15 minutes to complete and is anonymous. No information is traceable back to any individual, unless you state your name.
The Barometer is open to all students, from first year undergraduates until final year PhD students, and runs until 4 December. It's important that you give us feedback every year, so even if you responded last year, please do so again.
The survey asks you to rate, among other things, your academic and learning experience, the support you've received from the careers service, your arrival and orientation during your first week, the advice you've been given from our finance officers and your accommodation.
You will also be asked whether you would recommend studying at UCL.
As a thank-you for completing it, we are offering a prize-draw in which you could win up to £1,000, or one of 30 Amazon vouchers.
How your views make a difference
Last year, some of you told us in the Student Barometer that you were unhappy with aspects of your accommodation and timetable.
As a result, we've set up a dedicated group to look at UCL student residences with student representatives on it and we're in the process of improving next year's timetables.
You also said - through the Barometer and the National Student Survey - that feedback on your coursework is inconsistent and that it's hard to understand assessment criteria.
We listened and agreed. We have created a universal standard on academic feedback that is being rolled out across the university and are working closely with all departments to improve assessment criteria. As one of our ChangeMaker projects, where students and staff work together to improve education at UCL, law students and their lecturers are thinking of ways to make assessment criteria clearer and allowing students to provide feedback on each other's work.
Thanks to your comments, we have a better idea of which departments give helpful feedback and where there is room for improvement.
As a result of what you've told us, we've extended opening hours to 24 hours during the week in term-time in the Main (Wilkins) and DMS Watson (science) libraries and opened new study spaces.
What we do with the information you give us
But don't just take it on trust that we take your feedback very seriously, ask your Heads of Department.
Once a survey like the Barometer closes, the office of the Vice-Provost for Education and Student Affairs reads through every single comment and response - and last year there were 6,447 - and presents the findings in detail to me, the President and Provost of the university.
Next we hold a meeting of faculty tutors, student reps, the head of student services, other heads of central services and the Vice-Provost for Education and Student Affairs to decide what urgent changes we need to make and what we can change.
The results of the Barometer will be published on the UCL student surveys webpage and circulated by your departments in April 2016.
Students and staff as partners
In our vision for the future - UCL2034 - we describe a university in which students and staff regard each other as partners.
But a meaningful partnership relies on both sides telling the other what works and what needs improvement.
Over the course of your time at UCL, you'll be asked to tell us what you think through departmental and faculty surveys, the Barometer, the National Student Survey or the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey or Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey.
Although there are numerous draws on your time, it's vital that you make your voice heard.
Student surveys are central to the success of our university.
Put simply, your opinions drive change at UCL.
Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost of UCL