Return to Campus: Is a More Agile Approach to Capturing the Student Voice Needed?

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

Image of a student campus with Explorance GM John Atherton

Universities around the world have been busy preparing for the return to campus as they finally emerge from lockdowns and various restrictions.

Students have arguably suffered more than the wider adult population during the pandemic. Mental health has declined, isolation and loneliness has increased, opportunities for in-person work experience and skills development have been limited, social events have been stripped out, and this summer’s graduates have entered a generally uncertain jobs market.

There is, however, hope for a return to ‘normal’ this year.

Prioritizing the Student Voice

Whatever the next 12 months hold, the Higher Education sector must gear up to listen to students’ concerns: those of new students, many of whom have had a rather disrupted school or college experience in the last 18 months, second-year university students who will need a different level of support for progression and transition than normally required, and final-year students.

Covid-19 has undoubtedly shone a light on the importance of student feedback, especially receiving and acting on this feedback in real time, as well as continuing the more traditional approaches of module evaluation surveys which remain central to quality assurance. Institutions now need to move to a more agile approach of actively listening to students and ensuring they close the feedback loop through ongoing dialogue and conversation.

A good example of this is our work with Cardiff University and how they adapted legacy approaches, better empowering the student voice by utilising Blue to introduce Cardiff Pulse. Cardiff’s Pulse is a near real-time feedback mechanism that the University launched each month from March-July 2021 to all students. On 5 October, Explorance will host a free webinar where the University will present the benefits of this implementation of Blue and how an agile approach to strengthening the student voice delivers for both staff and students.

Attendees will learn how Cardiff embraced ‘failing fast’, to help them improve more quickly, as well as some of the lessons that were learned along the way.

The following week, on 12 October, Explorance will host a webinar with the University of St. Gallen on how Higher Education institutions can boost course evaluation rates with automated importation. Other events are in the pipeline.

A Commitment to Shared Insights

What we have done throughout the pandemic – and this will continue for the duration of this academic year – is to share new insights with our university community (and beyond), exploring issues, trends and good practice relating to capturing student feedback. That community now includes the University of Bristol, HEC Paris and University of Worcester, and the University of Leeds, all of whom we have begun working with over the past six months.

Away from Higher Education, I attended Learning Live – a two-day learning event for talent development and L&D professionals – earlier this month. Explorance is helping organisations (public and private sector) with their Employee Experience Management strategy.

Finally, on 9 November we will host a webinar on how L&D organisations can grow learning measurement capability, providing senior business leaders with the evidence to support the concept that learning is advancing the competencies of the workforce – while contributing to strategic initiatives.

John Atherton, General Manager (Europe and Africa), Explorance

John Atherton, General Manager (Europe and Africa), Explorance

Learn more about students’ attitudes to feedback efforts during a pandemic


Higher educationStudent Experience ManagementStudent voice

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