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Unitu student voice platform

Unitu is an online platform that helps universities and student unions to collect and analyse student feedback in real time, to enable faster improvements to the student experience.

UCL has now centralised funding for Unitu, an award-winning online student voice platform, so departments can adopt the platform at no cost to themselves. 

Last updated: 2 February 2021. 

About Unitu

Unitu is a space where students, academic representatives and staff can collectively raise, discuss and resolve both academic and more general experience issues.

The Unitu platform allows students to discuss and vote on matters they’d like to escalate to departmental staff for attention. This enables the department to consider and, where appropriate, act promptly to address these concerns, and for students to see the decisions and action that has been taken. 

How Unitu can help your department 

Unitu can help UCL’s academic departments in a number of ways:

  • Transparency and time-saving – When staff respond to student feedback on one of Unitu’s boards, all students on the board can see the response. This saves staff time in instances where multiple students would have previously asked the same question via email.
  • Student Academic Representative elections – When staff held their rep elections through Unitu they reported a significant reduction in time, and resource required to manage the process. This also creates more awareness, with students engaged with the platform from early on, and their reps from the start of term.   
  • “Closing the Loop” on student feedback When staff respond to student feedback posts on Unitu, they have the opportunity to record the outcome in the ‘Together we Changed’ section of the Unitu board. This evidence of positive change reassures students that their feedback and views are being considered by their department. This can even help departments achieve higher Student Voice scores in surveys such as the NSS.
  • Quicker access to student feedback – Some staff have previously been frustrated that they only seemed to receive student feedback at their termly Staff-Student Consultative Committee (SSCC) meetings, where some issues may have been “bubbling under” for several weeks. Unitu allows students and Student Reps to flag any issues promptly, so that they can be swiftly addressed, or discussed in greater depth. 
  • Connection with students studying remotely – With more of UCL’s teaching being delivered digitally in 2020-21 than ever before, Unitu enables students off-campus to give their feedback whenever it suits them. While students across different time zones may find it hard to attend synchronous events such as SSCC meetings, they can submit their questions / ideas / praise / issues flexibly on Unitu.

Improving the student experience

As well as providing a forum for responding to student feedback and queries, Unitu can provide useful insights into student sentiments. These insights may be helpful in planning further student experience developments in your area of UCL.

When submitting posts on Unitu, students are encouraged to include keywords and categorise their feedback according to segments that match those used in the National Student Survey (NSS), such as Learning Resources and Student Voice. A monthly report is sent to departments.

Unitu remains an opt-in service at UCL: departments are not obliged to use it, and the institutional set up means that there is no cost to departments that choose to adopt it.

Frequently asked questions

Where is Unitu in use at UCL?

Existing users of the Unitu platform include Faculties and departments such as: 

  • UCL Institute of Education
  • Faculty of Laws
  • Faculty of Engineering
  • UCL Medical School
  • UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
  • Department of Mathematics
  • Department of History
  • Arts & Sciences (BASc)
  • Department of Greek & Latin

The following UCL departments adopted Unitu this academic year, 2020-21:

 

  •  Bartlett School of Planning
  • Bartlett School of Architecture
  • Institute for Global Prosperity
  • Natural Sciences degree (virtual department)
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Department of Space & Climate Physics
  • Institute of Americas
  • History of Art Department
  • Department of Geography
  • Department of Anthropology
  • School of Pharmacy
  • Division of Biosciences
  • Institute of Global Health
  • Institute of Ophthalmology
  • Division of Infection & Immunity
  • Division of Medicine
  • Division of Surgery & Interventional Sciences

 

You can find information on the various other universities that have adopted Unitu on their website.

Is student feedback given anonymously on Unitu?

Students’ posts on Unitu boards are anonymous by default, and Unitu’s anonymity is often influential in encouraging students to come forward with feedback.

“The Unitu interface with the anonymous posting option has made a huge difference. Students were able to share concerns, doubts and frustrations openly, which allowed them to be addressed and also to make other students feel like they were not alone in their frustrations.”, PTES 2020 comment from MSc Clinical Neuroscience student

While historical data suggests that around 90% of Unitu posts are constructive, Unitu does discourage disrespectful or offensive posts in a number of ways. A “sentiment checker” warns students before posting if their proposed message contains any rude or offensive language.

After a post is made to the private (i.e. Reps and students only) board, Reps can choose to remove any posts that do not meet Unitu or UCL’s guidelines. There is also a three-strike policy (warning – removal of anonymity – ejection from Unitu) in place for repeat offenders, which either Reps or staff members can apply. 

What makes a successful Unitu board?

Departments that choose to adopt Unitu will receive guidance from both Unitu and UCL on setting up their Unitu board.

Some core principles for fostering an active and engaged community of Unitu users are:

Solicit feedback – Staff and Reps can both request feedback pro-actively, and this can be particularly useful in the run-up to an SSCC meeting, as it helps add detail to the meeting agenda. You could also considering asking for feedback after a large lecture, or after the first coursework deadline.  

Engage the Reps – Encourage the Student Academic Representatives in your department to promote Unitu through their channels, including social media and Virtual Common Rooms. You can even invite them to speak about Unitu for five minutes at the end of a lecture or seminar, using this presentation. Departments can even choose to hold their Rep elections on Unitu, which may boost early engagement with the service.

Build early momentum – It can sometimes be worth encouraging students to post a query on Unitu, even if they initially express it in a different forum e.g. verbally or via email. Other students will see the response from a Rep or staff member on Unitu, which reduces the likelihood of duplicate queries and encourages them to use Unitu in future.

Will departmental staff have to respond to every query on Unitu?

No. All student posts on Unitu are initially reviewed by a Student Academic Representative, who can respond to the post themselves, ask for more information / detail, or open the post for staff responses. A significant portion of posts, particularly simple questions, will be dealt with by Student Reps before they are escalated for staff attention.

Many departments appoint several staff members as Unitu board moderators, so that the most appropriate member of staff responds to specific questions.

How to adopt Unitu in your department

If you’d like to find out more about getting Unitu for your department, or arrange a demonstration, contact Yusuf Ozkizil in the Office of the Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs).

Requests to join for Term 1 this year are now closed, but departments are welcome to start discussions to join next academic year. Yusuf and the rest of the Unitu project team will be happy to assist you with this.