Teaching & Learning


UCL staff develop new online programme

18 May 2016

Staff from across UCL have attended a one-day workshop to develop the idea of a new online programme for students with an offer to study at the university.

Welcome to UCL

The programme, still in its early stages of development, would show off the best of UCL - our finest minds, our interdisciplinary strengths and the difference we make to solving the world's problems.

It would be open to students during the summer before they start their undergraduate degrees and a version may be made available to anyone who is interested in finding out more about UCL.

Provisionally called the Introductory Programme, it would offer students an intellectually enriching introduction to degree-level study and help them with their academic writing skills. It would also exploit the power of social media so that students could form a community and make friends before they join us. There would also be an opportunity to find out about UCL in general and what it's like to be in London to give a more rounded impression of student life.

The Office of the Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs), which is behind the creation of the programme, would like to aim towards a pilot in several departments next year. The creation of the programme is, as the UCL's five-year education strategy states, a strategic goal for the university.

On May 5, 31 colleagues in academic and professional service roles met for a day’s discussion on what the programme could include, whether it should be compulsory or assessed, how it could sit alongside existing induction activities and how many hours of a student's time it should take up. They also discussed how much of the programme should be online, which study skills it should develop and what it should be called.

The colleagues involved included, among others, Professor John Mitchell, Vice-Dean (Education) in the Department of Engineering and Director of the Integrated Engineering Programme, Professor Michael Stewart, from the Department of Anthropology, and Professor Helen Chatterjee, Head of Research and Teaching in UCL’s Museums and Collections.

One group suggested the programme should require students to take part in research since UCL is such a strong advocate of research-based education. They suggested students could, for example, be asked to collect bacteria swabs for an antibiotic resistance study similar to the hugely successful crowd-funded project run by UCL's Eastman Dental Institute

Some colleagues said the programme should be broken down into the themes of the Grand Challenges and others suggested students should set and answer the questions.

The team responsible for overseeing the development of the programme, from the Office of the Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs), will now collect the suggestions and organise for students to give their views on the design of the programme. The team will then assemble a group of academics, professional services staff and designers to start creating it.

Dr Tim Beasley-Murray, Academic Director: Global Citizenship, said: "Our workshop demonstrated how much energy and enthusiasm there is for the programme from across the university. We generated a set of very innovative ideas with, at their heart, the aim of linking students across disciplines and engaging them with each other and UCL.”

Professor Anthony Smith, who as Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs) oversees the student experience, told colleagues he hoped the programme would be "a new way for UCL to think about how we encourage students and give them the necessary tools to achieve their best when they come here".

We would like to hear from any colleagues or students who wish to be involved in the programme or have views on what the programme should look like. Students will be consulted later in the year. Please contact Judith Hillmore (Head of Global Citizenship Programmes).