UCL News


A message to Students’ Union sabbatical officers and student academic reps

14 December 2020

A message from Professor Michael Arthur, President & Provost, to say thank you to the student sabbatical team and student reps and pay tribute to the power of partnership

UCL Provost Michael Arthur, sitting outside the UCL Portico

Dear sabbatical team and student reps,

I am writing to thank you for working with us so effectively this year.

The idea that universities should work in partnership with students sounds unbelievably obvious, and yet it has taken time and hard work to foster a culture in which the student voice is heard loud and clear at all levels of the university. Your work with us through the crisis has shown us just how powerful that partnership can be. 

I chaired the National Student Survey from 2006-2009, as the idea of seeking consistent feedback from students was starting to gain traction – and I brought that commitment with me to UCL when I joined in 2013, sponsoring our ChangeMakers programme, and seeking to consult widely with students wherever possible. I considered that we were making great progress in putting students at the heart of our decision-making.

Our experience through the pandemic has accelerated that progress significantly. Over the last nine months, I’ve seen how bringing informed, thoughtful and talented students into university decision-making is not just important, but also transformative. 

It’s because staff and students were willing and able to work together that we were able to push all our teaching online; it’s because staff and students have been collaborating that we have been able to learn and refine as we’ve navigated the Covid period. In recent years we have had a fabulous team of sabbatical officers; and we’ve also had a great team of student reps, whose feedback has significantly influenced the decisions that we’ve taken about your modules, your programmes, and the UCL experience on campus.

As I prepare to leave UCL, I’m sad to leave such an amazing place. But I feel very privileged to have witnessed first-hand just what can be achieved through genuine staff-student partnership. I want to encourage you to continue making your voices heard; sharing your experiences and your ideas; and engaging proactively with your lecturers and tutors to shape how and what you learn. 

I’d urge you to also to share with others the opportunities you’ve had and to encourage other students to put themselves forward for election to positions which allow them to voice their views and represent the interests of their peers. 

UCL will always be the home of disruptive thinkers, capable of finding ways through even the most difficult and unusual circumstances. In choosing to work with your tutors and the university, your ideas, your insights and your energy have made all the difference to us in some very testing times. I am extremely grateful to you for all you’ve done this year, and wish you all the very best for your future.

Best wishes,

Professor Michael Arthur, UCL President & Provost