Teaching & Learning


Developing student engagement and leadership: objective four of the Education Strategy

To create cultures of student engagement and leadership.

We will significantly expand the opportunities available to our students to participate in creating and shaping policy and practice at local and institutional levels, and place student feedback and insights at the heart of our decision-making. 

Students as partners

UCL is a community of scholars, all at different stages in their understanding of scholarship, research and the application of knowledge. We need the insights of all our members, whatever their experience, to shape local and institutional decisions and contribute to productive ways of working. This is particularly important for a university such as UCL, which attracts students of an extremely high calibre.

By harnessing the intellectual and creative talents of our students, together we will create a better university. 

Enhanced engagement with our students

We now collect a good deal of information from our students about how they feel about UCL and their education – in module surveys, internal surveys and through the National Student Survey (NSS). We will invest more comprehensively in this rich resource. 

The idea that we might bring students and staff together to solve problems, identify new directions and change cultures is particularly appropriate for UCL, with its traditions of collegiality and its future rooted in the participation and creation culture of the Connected Curriculum.

Enhanced engagement with what students and staff can learn from each other is right for us at this stage of our development, and will set us well on the way to meeting the ambitions in UCL 2034. We are particularly keen to work in partnership with UCLU on this.

Our priorities for objective four

1. Getting the most out of student surveys

The establishment of a coherent and consistent approach to student surveys, making clear to students why they matter and how the results drive institutional change. This will include systems to ensure that staff receive the data from those surveys in ways that make it simple for them to determine how to respond. Surveys will become the entry-level activity of a broader culture of student participation.

We will have moved to centrally-managed student module evaluation surveys by 2021 and built the technical and governance infrastructure to ensure that we are reviewing this information consistently and acting constructively in response to it.

  • Better survey response rates have given us richer insights into our students’ experience: NSS 69% (up from 61%); PTES 41.9% (up from 40%); New to UCL 37% (up from 25%). (2019) 
  • New to UCL survey has significantly improved response rate from last year (37% vs 25%). 2018 National Student Survey has been launched and runs until 30 April 2018. (March 2018)
  • The student survey framework has been established and surveys are being conducted according to plan. (January 2018)
  • The Harmonising Module Evaluations Project was expected to pilot a new survey system in Term 1 2020-21, but due to the pressures posed by the Covid19 pandemic, and after careful deliberation, the Project Board have chosen to suspend the project indefinitely. It is hoped that as circumstance change, the project can be reopened in the future.

2. Working with students as partners

To build on the existing Students' Union UCL's Student Academic Representatives scheme (formerly known as StARs) and UCL’s ChangeMakers Projects and Scholars strands so that students become fully involved in all aspects of quality enhancement and assurance, work with us as consultants on curriculum development projects and have the opportunity to imagine, articulate and initiate improvements to education at UCL.

All UCL faculties will be regularly working with students through the UCL ChangeMakers framework by 2021 (9 out of 11 currently are in 2019).

  • UCL ChangeMakers was revised to offer students and staff partnership projects at department, faculty or institutional level. In 2018-19, institutional projects produced resources to help Transition Mentors, created resources for a new online course for personal tutors, and led to the pilot of a teaching opportunities portal for postgraduate teaching assistants.
  • Under the Student Quality Reviewer scheme, 70 students worked to review teaching, facilitate the ASER process, participate in Internal Quality Review (IQR) panels, and Programme and Module Approval Panels (PMAP).
  • In a successful pilot, students worked with staff as Curriculum Partners to make the curriculum more inclusive. The project will expand in the coming year.
  • The Student Voice Project has now launched and through this we are reviewing how effectively we gather the views of our students and communicate actions and outcomes. New resources and guides will be developed from Term 1 2019-2020 onwards.
  • You Shape UCL Fair took place at the end of January 2018, designed to highlight opportunities for students to engage with UCL. Student Experience Panel now has over 1,000 members. (March 2018)
  • 66% of Student Academic Representatives received training in 2016-17, up from 53% in 2015-16; the number of UCL ChangeMaker Projects funded has increased almost three-fold, from 21 in 2015-16 to 58 in 2017-18. (January 2018)

3. Involving current students in monitoring the student experience

The Student Experience Committee (StEC) will become the primary focus for monitoring the quality of the student experience, providing senior-level scrutiny of a range of issues, and ensuring that we can demonstrate clear progress on areas that students report are unsatisfactory.

4. Build close relationships with the Students' Union (UCLU)

To develop a joint understanding with UCLU about the respective roles of the university and the union in building a culture of engagement for all students at UCL and to work collaboratively on engagement activities wherever possible. 

  • The Student Engagement Steering Group was re-launched in Term 2018-19 and is now co-chaired by a member of staff and the Education Officer, Students’ Union, UCL.  The group brings together the central student engagement mechanisms at UCL and reviews how effective they are in supporting a culture of student engagement.

  • To help articulate our goals and guide our work, a joint definition of student engagement and our objectives has been developed in partnership with the Students’ Union. This is supported by the Student Engagement Framework and is reviewed termly by the Student Engagement Steering Group.