How can student feedback help universities to survive and thrive in 2020-21?

Written by John Atherton, General Manager, Europe and Africa, Explorance.

Following the success of our 13th May webinar on ‘How can we capture the student voice in a time of coronavirus?’, attended by nearly 250 delegates from Higher Education institutions around the world, we have now arranged a follow-up webinar on ‘Preparing for our new normal: how can effective student feedback help universities to survive and thrive in the next academic year?’ (24th June, 12.00-1.00pm BST).

The focus of the webinar is timely given the publication of the HEPI/Advance HE Student Academic Experience Survey last week. Covid-19 and widespread industrial action have combined to deprive students of anything like a conventional university experience – a point frequently raised by respondents – and media coverage of the survey has focused on how fewer undergraduate students feel that their course is good or very good value for money because of the coronavirus pandemic and striking academics (39%, down from 41% last year).

The study, based on a poll of over 10,000 undergraduates, found that students who completed the survey after 16th March – around the time face-to-face teaching was reduced – were less positive in their perceptions of value for money than those surveyed earlier. This is not a surprise, of course, but as universities move towards a blended approach of online and face-to-face learning amid the pandemic the majority of students (90%) reported that only
“basic” technology was used in their teaching.

Some groups, such as black, disabled and LGBT+ students, were more likely to report less positive responses about their time at university. Fewer than half (45%) of black students said they would choose the same course and university again, compared to more than two in three (68%) of white students, according to the study. This may suggest that more could be done to listen and respond to the student voice of these students. However, as Minister of State for Universities Michelle Donelan said: “As universities prepare for next year, operating in what may be a different learning environment, it is essential that they offer a high-quality education for all students, regardless of background.”

Our forthcoming webinar, ‘Preparing for our new normal: how can effective student feedback help universities to survive and thrive in the next academic year?’, is designed to support sector-wide thinking and we are delighted to have secured Dr Harriet Dunbar-Morris, Dean of Teaching and Learning at the University of Portsmouth; Dr Joanna Hendy, Director of Learning Enhancement at Cardiff Metropolitan University; and Professor Michael Wilson, Provost of Zayed University in the UAE as our expert panel.

With some universities already committing to online lectures only for 2020-21, and others advocating blended approaches to teaching and learning, Higher Education institutions are reflecting on their responses to Covid-19 and developing plans for the next academic year. For many, the shift from emergency transition to online learning to now developing fully established online programmes brings obvious challenges in terms of student engagement and student satisfaction. Institutions need to ensure quality of provision and that this is continually informed by the student voice. How student voice is captured during the next academic year, especially given the likelihood of less face-to-face time, is going to be critical. It is therefore important that we understand how leading Higher Education professionals are gearing up to this challenge, and discuss good practice.

In our one-hour session we will explore the following:

  • Is student evaluation still as important, and what does this look like in the ‘new normal’?
  • How are universities developing their student feedback mechanisms to reflect what the next academic year is really going to be like?
  • What are the new, and emerging opportunities, for capturing student feedback?
  • Is it possible to engage the dis-engaged and traditionally harder-to-reach groups?
  • How are academic and professional teams being supported to deliver this agenda?

 

If you have not registered yet, there is still time to do so. To join the webinar (it is free) simply go to https://explorance.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_huqYXrlrS1KbexlNM6rmJA.

 

You can also read the perspectives of our ‘How can we capture the student voice in a time of coronavirus?’ webinar expert panellists here:

COVID-19: “We have continued to use various mechanisms at our disposal to capture the student perspective, all within a culture and raison d’être as a higher education provider where the student always has a voice”

COVID-19: “As we need to listen to the student voice during these emergency times, we cannot lose sight of the need to keep doing so as we inch our way towards business as usual”

COVID-19: “We want to make sure we develop our feedback mechanisms so that they reflect what the new academic year is likely to look like for our students”

COVID-19: “We entered this period from a position of teamworking and trust where we had systems in place to ensure students were confident of communicating with us”

COVID-19: “A key next step will be reflection, evaluation and feedback to inform future planning”

 

John Atherton is General Manager – Europe and Africa at Explorance

 


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