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Students connect with each other, across phases and with alumni: Dimension six

Are there opportunities to meet, mentor and work collaboratively with students across year groups? Are alumni actively engaged in the learning and research community?

Taught programmes and co-curricular opportunities should enable diverse students to connect with one another, both in their year group and across phases of study. 

This can be cultivated, for example, through designing collaborative assessment tasks and by putting on departmental events. 

Postgraduate research students can have structured opportunities to engage with students on taught programmes, for example by delivering seminars on their emerging work. 

Peer mentoring can be offered and alumni invited to get involved as inspirational partners and advisers. 

The focus for this dimension is on ensuring that students feel a sense of belonging as they study and of being part of an inspirational learning and research community. 

The key is to work in partnership with students and alumni to make this happen in ways that are authentic and sustainable.

Where to start: asking questions of your programme of study

  1. Do students have frequent opportunities to meet and participate in collaborative enquiry with one another in diverse groups?
  2. Are they building connections with students in other year groups, for example through events or mentoring schemes?
  3. Can students meet and learn from diverse alumni, and build a strong sense of belonging to an inclusive research and learning community? 
  4. Do students have transferrable skills including digital capabilities, related to future professional work and their broader roles in society?
  5. Will students have opportunities to recognise and critically reflect on their own background, acknowledging privileges (or lack of privilege) across different groups and in different contexts?

Don’t forget: It’s important to consider all dimensions of the Connected Curriculum across all years of study – a holistic view across a programme. 

Top tips for implementation

Chapter 8: Connecting students with one another and with alumni in A Connected Curriculum for Higher Education (Dilly Fung 2017) gives an overview of implementing this dimension including a table of implementation ideas which includes examples such as:

  • Personal tutors arranging group meetings for discussions with peers
  • Undergraduate students attend an informal seminar series in which postgraduate students present on their research
  • Holding a departmental meeting with successful alumni, encouraging active engagement from current and past students
  • Undergraduate students organise an event/ conference to showcase their work/research.

Book a bespoke ABC curriculum design workshop to design/redesign programmes and modules that helps you plan to fully incorporate the dimensions.

Get advice and support by contacting the UCL Arena Centre for Research-based Education at arenacentre@ucl.ac.uk.

Examples of this dimension in action

Below are case study highlights, with more coming soon.