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UCL to expand academic writing and communication support for students

7 December 2017

Proposal for significant expansion of academic writing provision approved in principle by UCL senior management

Students writing at their desks

A proposal to significantly expand UCL provision for academic writing and communication support for students has been approved in principle by UCL senior management.

An academic director will be recruited early in 2018, with a view to establishing an Academic Communication Support Centre (working title) by the start of session 2018-19.

A core principle of the new centre is that it caters for the differing needs of home and international students, with development of academic communications skills for both native speakers and those from whom English is not a first language.

Academic writing support was an issue raised by staff and students in the consultations for both Global Engagement and Education Strategies, and the proposed expansion is a commitment in both documents. The quality and scale of support in academic writing and communication affects student success and our ability to attract the very best students at home and internationally.

Meeting demand in this area also has implications for future TEF awards, as student satisfaction with academic support is a key metric in that process. One third of our PGT students considers that our provision falls short of their expectations, and a 2017 survey of departments indicated that academic staff believe that two thirds of the student body would benefit from an academic communications service.

The proposed central service would establish consistency across faculties, delivering a range of support, including 1:1 tutorials, taught workshops for larger groups, and academic writing sessions embedded within programmes. Existing models for peer support would be built on by expanding the Writing Lab and the current suite of online resources would be repackaged and promoted more widely. The service would scale up over time according to demand.

The Office of the Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs) and the Global Engagement Office have been scoping the feasibility of the service, and have secured strategic investment funding to appoint an academic lead early in 2018.