UCL News


UCL Change Builders: how a UCL team is helping hundreds of students a week

Meet the UCL Change Builders helping to drive progress for our community of staff, students and partners.

Support Central: How a UCL team is  helping hundreds of  students a week

14 February 2024

Introducing UCL Change Builders

As part of our shared efforts to deliver on our Strategic Plan and respond to insights raised, teams across UCL have been working hard to drive progress for our expansive community.

It's often the combined efforts of many small steps of improvement, which build together to create immense impact, that make up much of our progress.

Recognising and celebrating the teams behind these efforts, UCL Change Builders spotlights these stories of change.

Know a Change Builder? Get in touch!

About Customer Service Excellence (CSE) accreditation 

Receiving timely support amidst personal challenges is important to students. 

So with high demand for services risking long wait times, the team at the UCL Student Enquiries Centre knew something could be done to further improve delivery.

Embarking on a journey of continuous improvement, the team worked hard to identify and address key issues; "Sometimes when you hear the words general enquiries, you think it can be a bit synonymous with straightforward or simple enquiries and actually quite far from the truth” reflects Student Centre Coordinator Teagan Hale.  

Recognising the impact of small steps of improvement, the team set out to address various elements of their support services, using the feedback and experiences of their users as central driving forces. 

Two people sat at a desk with a laptop between them

Listening and learning 

One key change made by the team involved their Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing (DMHW) service, which – prior to the pandemic – had boasted a staffed reception desk and a popular, albeit crowded, two-hour daily drop-in session in the Student Centre.

Responding to the opportunity for better streamlining services, the team transitioned to online same-day appointments, bookable via askUCL – facilitating better access and improving the experience they offered students.

“It's a process of continuously listening to what people are saying” explains Helen Jenkins, who works as a Student Centre Coordinator within the team; “we receive feedback all the time, and we look at that feedback and say – how can we improve and make that better? How can we improve things for everybody?”.

Making improvements isn’t always a straightforward process; for example, the team’s 24/7 student hotline had marked a significant expansion in support accessibility.

Yet, when the team looked at feedback from the perspective of students actually using the hotline, they realised there was still more they could do improve accessibility.

Off this, they conducted a mystery shopper exercise to fully understand the experience of students and how they could make it better.  

Findings fed back into services, ensuring that they remained accessible, efficient, and responsive to student needs.

“We've got a really cohesive team”, reflects Helen; “Everyone's passionate about giving the best possible outcome to our students – that is very much our shared ethos”.

A person sitting on a sofa reading from their laptop

Attaining Customer Service Excellence (CSE)  

The Student Enquiries Centre team’s dedication to customer-centricity was further rewarded when, in 2023, they passed their 24-month Customer Service Excellence (CSE) re-accreditation with an impressive score of 22 compliance plusses.

A badge of honour that recognises an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction, CSE accreditation is sought out by Higher Education institutes across the UK and known for its rigorous assessment process.

“For us, it’s been an opportunity to really show that we’re innovative in the way we deliver our service” says Finola Gibson, who led the journey to reaccreditation as Head of the Student Enquiries Centre.

“We have been really motivated by the accreditation to prioritise continuous improvement”.

Accreditation falls into five main criterions and 52 different components, with the journey to certification involving a punctilious examination process, including a comprehensive documentation review and on-site visit.

The team’s brought home a total of 22 compliance plusses to date – no small feat for a group of staff juggling hundreds of inquiries a day!

“[The award] is, really, a reflection of the hard work that all our officers have put into this project and team” reflects Teagan; 

“it's the little day-to-day improvements that everybody has been making that eventually lead to this accreditation”.

A group of people sat together talking

Students have expressed positive responses to the improvements made, too.

“It was great having someone to find out about my enquiry”, reflects Biosciences student Thanaporn Thanyajaroen; “at first, I was lost and didn't know where to reach out, but the Student Enquiries Team helped me out. My enquiry was solved right away, and I didn't have to wait for long”.

UCL alumnus Michael Cai has similar sentiments; “I really appreciate Mira Osseiran's hard work in helping me solve a problem – proving my master's degree during my PhD application. It sounds like it's not a big deal, but Mira's response was really professional and thoughtful. I cannot appreciate her hard work enough”.

A person smiling at the camera with their arms crossed

Looking ahead 

For the Student Enquiries Centre team, the latest round of improvements is just the beginning: they recently launched a combined Student Support and Wellbeing phone service, providing UCL students with a single convenient access point for a range of different services.

Despite dealing with a range of different inquiries each day, the team make time to collaborate and listen to one another, crediting their sharing of knowledge with the production of collective day-to-day improvements.

"I absolutely love working with these guys” says Helen  “[We all] have a different area that's kind of piqued our interest", adds Teagan “which is really nice because the team collaborates and shares knowledge. We all really support one another.”.

The team at the Student Enquiries Centre have a busy few months ahead, but take an optimistic approach to their next projects and progress.

Their improvement journey serves as a reminder that, perhaps, customer service excellence is not always just a goal, but often a continuous pursuit that fuels small advances to meaningful change.