Students Staff

Student experience

20 September 2019

An holistic approach to student development

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, People pages, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 10:55 am

Daniel Fox, our Head of Student Development, tells us more about his new team and their priorities for the new Academic Year.

This summer saw the formation of our new Student Development team within the Student Life Directorate.

Daniel Fox, Head of Student Development.

Created through a restructure, Student Development incorporates Skills for Success, formerly known as the Talent Development Centre, alongside Careers Services, Faculty Co-ordination and Industry and Placements, formerly under the banner of Employability and Careers.

I just wanted to take a further opportunity to briefly highlight the work of this new team within the University as we move towards Welcome Week and the return of our students.

Through the creation of the Student Development service, we aim to achieve a more holistic approach to student development and, over time, a consolidation of initiatives with a greater emphasis on outputs and impact. This, alongside other new initiatives and ways of working, will allow us to become much more agile and focus our services when responding to student need.

As part of the restructuring we are changing the way students access our services in Colchester and Southend. On the Colchester campus the Employability and Careers Centre on Square 2 and the TDC Helpdesk on the ground floor of the Silberrad Student Centre have closed. The access point for initial enquiries is now the Student Services Hub (SSH) on each campus; since the creation of the Student Services Hub, it has been the intention to have a one-stop-shop approach, giving all students easy and clear access to services. This is also an opportunity to ensure parity of experience across our campuses is achieved, as well as extending opening times to students who want to access these services.

Clearly this is the start of an exciting journey where we aim to work closely with colleagues to ensure students are supported not only during their time here but also as they move into the next stage of their lives.

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23 August 2019

Can you help us welcome our new students?

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, People pages, Student experience, What's on — Communications, CER @ 11:52 am

Welcome and Registration volunteers – we need your help!

Could you spare some time to volunteer during Arrivals Day or Welcome this year?

The Registration and Student Experience teams are busy preparing for the start of the new academic year and are keen to hear from anyone who can donate some of their time to support Welcome and Registration events for our new students in October.

Help is needed on Arrivals Day, Sunday 29 September, as well as during Welcome Week. This is a great way to have positive contact with students who will be grateful for all the help and support they can get to make their transition into University life a smooth one.  It’s also a chance to work with staff and student volunteers from across the institution so it really is a win/win opportunity.

If you’d like to get involved in activities that aren’t part of your usual job please speak to your line manager and complete the online form and the team will be in touch.

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Cycling to campus and reducing our carbon footprint

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 9:47 am

Cycling to work plays a key part in reducing our carbon footprint, improving the health of staff and students and managing our environmental impact.

New cycle parking now located under the STEM building.

As a University, we have made a commitment to reduce our carbon emissions by 43% against a 2005 baseline by 2020/21 through energy usage, but our community’s travel emissions are important too.

As a step to meet this goal, we are keen to encourage our community to cycle to work. Please see more about the cycle scheme we offer staff.  Currently, we have 15 cycle rack locations across our Colchester Campus ranging from The Copse to the Sports Arena.

We have also recently installed a number of cycle hoops following the completion of the STEM building. These are located underneath the STEM Building and can be accessed via Valley Road.

With the introduction of cycle storage at both ends of Valley Road, cycling the full length of Under Podia will no longer be permitted. This change is to ensure the safety of all cyclists.

Since last year we have increased our cycle storage provision by adding over 100 additional spaces. In total that will bring us to over 1100 cycle spaces across our Colchester Campus.

We are also going to move the Cycle Fixing Station and bike pump under Square 5 by the two tier cycle rack to beside one of the supporting pillars alongside the cycle hoops opposite. This will allow for cyclists to support their bike safely whilst work is undertaken.

An additional repair station will also be installed in North Towers Cycle Park by Rayleigh Tower; both works will take place by the end of September 2019.

We have added additional dates for Dr Bike to be on campus over the summer to provide servicing, repairs and affordable second-hand bikes on the following dates:

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Wednesday 25 September 2019

Cycle parking under podia

They will be located on Square 5 from 8.30am- 2.30pm. For further information on Dr Bike please visit our webpages

Finally we are updating some of our cycling signage across campus, clarifying a number of pedestrian only access routes to the Squares and where it’s appropriate to cycle under podia. This work is anticipated to take place in September.

We want to make the University campus a safe place for everyone. Please find the link to our recently updated cycling rules on campus

If you would like to find out more information about cycling on campus please visit the Estates webpages.

Our Sustainability and Transport team have also undertaken a full review of travel and infrastructure which has included stakeholder engagement, surveys and pop up stands.

Based on the findings the team will be creating a set of initiatives to allow growth and development within our approaches to travelling around the University. External stakeholders have also been brought on board to advise on ways to improve journeys to and from campus.

If you need any further advice on cycling please contact travel@essex.ac.uk.

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31 July 2019

Meet our new Head of Student Development

Filed under: Latest news, People pages, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 3:38 pm

Daniel Fox is our new Head of Student Development. We met up with him to find out more about his role and what plans he has for the future of Student Development at Essex.

Daniel Fox, Head of Student Development.

Who is Daniel Fox? / What did you do before coming to Essex?

This is my first role within Higher Education, and I am delighted to have become a part of the University of Essex family at a very exciting time. I have spent the last 20 years working in Secondary Schools, with the last 12 years in school leadership. A lot of my work in this time has focussed on student development, wellbeing and inclusion. I decided that after a long time in this sector I wanted a new challenge. The role of Head of Student Development not only provides the challenge I seek, but allows me to review and evaluate the impact of what is currently offered within the University and how we can further improve and develop that offer. I strongly believe that students deserve transformational education experiences and support to help them be successful not just at university but throughout their lives.

What will you be doing?

I will be leading the development of the new Student Development service, which leads and supports student development activities across the student lifecycle, facilitating effective transition into our learning community, enabling students to have the study skills and wider personal development opportunities they need to succeed. These activities will not only help students to achieve their academic potential, but will also build confidence, resilience and the necessary experience to progress successfully into the next stage of their life and career, which may include further study and the world of work.

As well as providing strategic direction and leading the continued development of the Student Development service in pursuit of the best possible experience for our students, I will support the delivery of our Education Strategy, specifically the institutional focus on student progression, success and graduate employability, and will work closely with relevant stakeholders to promote initiatives and projects to enhance student success and progression.

What are your priorities for the coming months?

As well as establishing the new service and meeting with key stakeholders, I will be focusing on:

  • Delivery of career development learning and embedded skills sessions – meeting commitments agreed with departments. Review and evaluation of embedded learning activity and determining needs for 2020 onwards.
  • Evaluation of impact – we must ensure that we make the most effective use of our engagement with students. Activities must be designed and implemented with a view to measurable impact and with the flexibility to adapt with the changing needs of our students and staff. We want to provide a service which reflects the needs of different academic disciplines and recognizes the fluidity of a student’s development journey. In order to do this, we must have a good understanding of trends and emerging risks, and be responsive and agile to addressing them.
  • Looking at making sure what we offer is clear and accessible and offers demonstrable benefit, and marketing/communicating this to students and staff.

Why has the University introduced this new role?

This new role is part of the University’s commitment to deliver excellence in education and the delivery to provide a transformational education.

We need to adapt to the changing and future needs of our students, in terms of how they learn and access support, as well as how we can effectively prepare them for their future careers and lives. As the environment in which we work changes to support new and changing priorities, the structural needs and services also need to develop so that they continue to be fit for purpose. Through the creation of the Student Development service, we aim to achieve a more holistic approach to student development and, over time, a consolidation of initiatives with a greater emphasis on outputs and impact.

What changes can we expect to see as a result of the creation of the new Student Development team?

Access to Student Development services will be integrated into our broader student services delivered by the Student Services Hub (across all three campuses) in a way that maximises and protects service profile and quality and engagement among students.

It has been the intention to have a one-stop-shop approach, giving all students easy and clear access to services. This is also an opportunity to ensure parity of experience across our campuses is achieved, as well as extending opening times to students who want to access these services and methods of access e.g. Livechat function will also be available.

What do students need to know about the changes? Where should they go if they want to discuss support?

Please direct students to the Student Services Hub for initial enquiries.

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18 July 2019

New academic building set for Colchester Campus

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 12:37 pm
 architects image of the new academic building Colchester Campus

Our new academic building will provide accommodation for staff and help us provide a transformational educational experience for our students.

Our University Strategy 2019-25 maps out an exciting period of growth for our University, anticipating expansion to 20,000 students and 1,000 researchers.

Our Capital Investment Plan outlines the ways in which we will accommodate this growth, including plans for a new Academic Building on our Colchester Campus.

The proposed £26m new building will house approximately 250 staff while also helping us provide a transformational learning experience for our students through multi-functional learning spaces, collaborative working spaces, study spaces, adaptable events spaces, a common room, department receptions and a café.

Situated on the north side of Colchester Campus the project will also see the refurbishment of Rayleigh square to provide outdoor space for socialising and outdoor study and learning. See what the new building will look like on Flickr.

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28 June 2019

Reaching out to young people this summer

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, People pages, Student experience, What's on — Communications, CER @ 1:51 pm

Two summer schools will invite young people to our campus this summer to learn about and experience university life.

Over the next two weeks, the Outreach team will be welcoming around 150 students onto our Colchester Campus for a university residential experience that they will never forget.

Our summer schools are designed for students who come from backgrounds that are underrepresented in higher education and are the perfect opportunity for them to discover more about university. They raise aspirations, knowledge and attainment through an innovative set of activities.

Two summer schools will give students the opportunity to immerse themselves into university life, both academically through taster sessions and socially as they will be staying in our University accommodation.

Our year 10 summer school, funded through Make Happen – the Essex partnership for the National Collaborative Outreach Program-  will see students taking part in a one-night residential, working with University of Essex academics to produce an academic poster arguing passionately for or against one of the following topics:

Year 12 visitors will experience the five-day programme filled with lectures, seminars, and independent research time to prepare them for university applications and degree-level academic writing. As part of the application process, students were invited to write a  500-word application on one of the following strands:

  • Mental Health Uncut: Critically consider the role of social media in the development of mental health problems.
  • Detention in the USA: Trump has detained many asylum seeking families, do you think this affects people’s Human Rights?
  • Global Meltdown: Young people in the UK are not affected by worldwide environmental concerns. Discuss.
  • Biological Sciences: A life for a life: Is the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research justified? Argue passionately for and against.
  • Business Studies: Write about somebody in business you admire: Tell us why you think they make a good business person. Think about their professional image, behaviour and reputation.
  • Literature, Film and Theatre Studies: Delve into the fascinating world of relationships by immersing yourself in one of our key texts. Critically analyse how relationships are depicted in your text by writing an essay. Or, you may feel inspired to write a poem, song, rap, short story, piece of drama, epilogue or prologue.

Both year groups will be living in our on campus accommodation, using the academic and social facilities and experiencing life as a University of Essex student. Current students act as role models throughout the summer school to share their experiences and inspire them to follow their footsteps into university.

Summer schools are part of the University’s outreach program of activity which is designed to work with underrepresented groups in higher education and give them to tools and confidence needed to progress to Higher Education. More information about the University’s outreach activities can be found on our outreach website.

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30 May 2019

Routes for reporting an incident

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, People pages, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 11:49 am

We want to make it as easy as possible for any member of our community to report an incident. We have a number of routes for reporting, and we encourage anyone with a concern to consider making a report.

  • We launched our Report and Support system to make it as easy as possible for anyone, including visitors, to report an incident. The system is available on our website and reports can be made anonymously if preferred.
  • Our Student Conduct Office can receive and deal with complaints and full contact details are on our website. Our Code of Student Conduct is built on the principle that all students are expected to maintain a standard of conduct which supports the University’s commitment to excellence, promotes good order and the good name of our University. In accepting an offer of a place at Essex, every student is bound by our rules and regulations – including those in the Code of Student Conduct.
  • Our Human Resources section deals with formal complaints made by staff or students – about our staff. Our People Supporting Strategy seeks to ensure we have a diverse workforce in a safe, discrimination/harassment-free environment.
  • Our Security team provide 24/7 cover to our campuses and deal with complaints and incidents reported from across our University. All of our emergency contact details are on our website.
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17 May 2019

Our new vision for student development

Filed under: Latest news, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 11:11 am

Richard Stock, our Academic Registrar, tells us more about our new vision for student development and how our new Student Development team will lead and support delivery of the vision.

Focusing on the needs of our students is central to the University’s mission. We offer a transformational education and put support for every student from every background at the heart of everything we do to enable them to achieve outstanding outcomes. Our transformational offer is supported by the work we do to equip our students with the skills to develop as individuals while they are with us to reach their aspirations and to prepare for the next stage of their lives beyond Essex.

As we embark on our new Strategic Plan, we have developed an ambitious new vision for how we will support our students’ development. The vision has three overarching components:

  • Supporting our students as they make the transition into our global learning community, maximising their resilience, ambition and capacity to succeed and develop.
  • Supporting our students to develop throughout their educational experience, enabling them to have the study skills and wider personal development opportunities they need to achieve their academic potential.
  • Providing insight into the effectiveness of our support for individual student development, using data to identify barriers to student success, enabling us to take actions that have real impact in transforming our students’ lives.

From 1 August 2019, a new Student Development team will be established in the Academic Section to lead the delivery of the new vision. The team will bring together the existing Employability & Careers Centre and the Talent Development Centre. The changes also affect colleagues in the current Student Engagement team.

How will the changes enhance the support on offer to our students?

The process of change to establish the new team will see an increase in staffing overall across the new Student Development team. In designing the new team, in consultation with colleagues, we have been able to reshape our existing structures, resources and ways of working to increase capacity to support Departments, to be more responsive to the needs of our students and to enable a clearer and more coherent offer.

How will the newly formed single team cover the priorities of the current teams?

The new team will bring integrated leadership to four related areas of responsibility:

  • Skills for Success will provide support for students as they make the transition into higher education and will support them to develop through their educational experience, enabling them to have the study skills they need to succeed. This area will include international language, academic, numeracy and digital skills. As well as the delivery of embedded teaching, the team will work with Faculties and Departments to identify priorities and to offer short-term, targeted support.
  • Work-Based Learning, Industry & Placements will oversee the sourcing and development of placements, work-based learning, including practice placements, internships, entrepreneurship and innovation, industrial liaison and employer engagement and will support students to prepare for the world of work. For industry and placements, each Department will continue to have a named individual to develop department specific knowledge and expertise in relation to work-based learning and we have increased the number of student-facing roles to support student engagement in relation to placements. Support for innovation and enterprise has been embedded into roles as a distinct area requiring support and development.
  • Building on the success of the ‘Hub and Spoke’ model in supporting Faculties and Departments, the Faculty Coordination team will enable a holistic view across all Faculties, working closely with Departments to determine and plan for Career Development Learning and advice. The team will ensure that insights and best practice are shared across the Faculty boundaries and we have increased the number of Careers Advisers to reflect present demand and to plan for growth, including expansion at Southend.
  • The Career Services team will be focused on the development and delivery of professional and proactive careers services for students, enabling them to have the wider personal development opportunities they need. We will be integrating access to careers services with the Student Services Hub in order to raise visibility of the services to students and expand access times and availability.

How will Departments interact with the new team?

The new Student Development team structure maintains features of the ‘Hub and Spoke’ model (currently used in the Employability & Careers Centre) and seeks to build on the proven value of working closely with Faculties and Departments to shape and deliver our work around local needs. The Faculty-facing element of the ‘spokes’ will continue but with an expanded ‘hub’ to enable greater operational resilience, the sharing of expertise and opportunities to maximise the more effective use of resources.

How have colleagues contributed to the development of the new team?

There has been extensive consultation over the last few months. Informal discussions with key stakeholders and affected staff as well as formal consultation have now concluded. The process of change has also enabled us to seek feedback from Departments about their demand for skills support to understand current and future need. In response, we are increasing the support for numeracy and the support available at the Southend Campus. We are also expanding the remit of specific roles to reflect the future need in relation to digital skills.

How will the changes impact on the important work of the Talent Development Centre?

For the new Skills for Success team, the changes being introduced will move us to a position to deliver in full the policy agreed by Senate in relation to academic skills support. The changes will allow us to meet the particular peaks of demand for skills support in the autumn term. In terms of hours of teaching capacity, current embedded teaching demand across all levels in the autumn term is around 1300 hours across all campuses. The changes we are making will release capacity to enable all departments to have the 5 hours of small class teaching for first year undergraduates, which will represent a significant increase in the present teaching hours to over 2100.

Overall, through the changes we are making, the full-time equivalence in the Skills for Success team will increase in comparison to the current Talent Development Centre.

How do the changes align with the University’s commitment to decasualisation of the workforce?

All colleagues will be remaining on permanent contracts of employment. In order to align our resources effectively to meet our students’ needs across the academic year, the new team will operate new patterns of work. Skills tutors’ contracts will be full-time during the autumn and spring terms to reflect the full-time teaching demand during this half of the year. The changes are supported by a new workload model based on the established model used by Essex Pathways.

Once colleagues working in this area have been allocated to roles within the new structure, we will be recruiting additional staff on permanent, part-time contracts to support autumn term delivery in particular. As a consequence, we are envisaging eliminating the requirement for the use of casual staff to support the needs of our students for skills support. Over time, as we increase our year round support activity and work with Departments to shape our services, we will consider investing in future permanent roles through the usual planning round process.

How will scholarship and programme development be promoted?

The new structure recognises the importance of scholarship and programme development. The workload model we have developed for the Skills for Success team in consultation with colleagues includes hours ring-fenced for personal and professional development such as attending conferences, visiting other universities, internal training, peer-observation, pedagogic activities to maintain expertise, individual supervision and team meetings, away days, collaboration with Departments about content and summer projects. In shaping these aspects of the work of the team, we have drawn explicitly on the approach used in Essex Pathways.

How will the new team be supported?

Administrative support arrangements have been reshaped but the overall full-time equivalence is not being reduced and there is no reduction in services to students. Support in Southend will be expanded. We are integrating student access to our academic support services into our broader student services delivered by the Student Services Hub. This will enable initial enquires to be managed via the Student Information Team, which is a larger team working flexibly across all three campuses. The changes will ensure longer hours of access and greater visibility for students and parity of experience across our campuses. The helpdesk space currently occupied by the Talent Development Centre will continue to be used for student-facing Student Development activities.

What other changes will be happening alongside the creation of the Student Development team?

In addition to enhancing the ways in which we will be supporting students, we are creating additional capacity to evaluate the effectiveness of our support. Working closely with the Finance, Planning & Data Insight team, a new role will enable improved insight of the University’s educational performance in support of individual student development and success. The role will help to ensure that the impact of our services can be evaluated based on robust data, providing a firm evidence for identifying future priorities and realising the full potential of, for example, the Learner Engagement Activity Portal (LEAP).

A new Student Experience team has also been created, which will take responsibility for Student Voice, Welcome and Induction and Registration. This team will be located alongside the Student Development team in the Student Life team in the Academic Section.

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4 October 2018

New online system for extenuating circumstances and late submission

Filed under: Latest news, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 10:58 am

A new online system is being launched that will digitise extenuating circumstances and late submission claims. Here, project manager Kevin Delves tells us more about the project and the benefits of new system.

Tell us, briefly, how this new system/approach has come about. What problem was it setting out to tackle?

We wanted to make the experience as easy as possible for students – modernising the process by moving from a paper form that needs to be handed in to an online form. We also had feedback from colleagues that processing extenuating circumstances claims at the busy exam board time was a real pressure point. We developed the idea for the system through consultation with the Students’ Union and with colleagues.

When will the new system go live?

Monday 15 October.

Where can students access it?

Via My Essex, Faser, and the University of Essex Website.

Where can staff access it?

In the first phase staff will be notified of Extenuating Circumstances and Late Submission claims via email to a central inbox that is department specific. In subsequent phases of the project, which will be delivered during this academic year, we will enhance the staff screens with additional functionality to support the management of claims.

What are the main changes?

The main change for students is the ability to complete the form online and submit supporting evidence as part of the same application. The online system has also combined Extenuating Circumstances with Late Submission so that it is now one form for both claims.  The system will also improve communication with students about progress with their claim.

What are the benefits to students?

Ease of use and more convenient and better communication throughout the process.

What are the benefits to staff?

Improved consistency in the management of claims, reduction in the number of claim submissions mislaid/misfiled, reduction in administrative time to manage the process, reduction in time and costs associated with a paper based process, and better information on the understanding of issues affecting students.

For anyone who doesn’t know, what are: “Extenuating Circumstances?” and how do they differ from “Late Submissions”?

Extenuating circumstances are circumstances beyond your control which have an impact on your assessed work. Extenuating circumstances can fall into the following categories:

  • Circumstances which cause you to perform less well in the assessment
  • Circumstances which cause you to miss an assessment event or not to submit an assessment

The University has a specific policy and guidance on Late Submission:

  • Circumstances where you are unable to submit coursework by the deadline or to attend a summative assessment event
  • Circumstances which mean you need extra time to submit a dissertation (taught postgraduate students only)

In general, extenuating circumstances will be of a medical or personal nature affecting you for any significant period of time and/or on the day of the assessment event, or immediately preceding the time of the deadline.

How will streamlining the process save time and improve the experience?

The solution is aiming to enhance the student experience of submitting a claim by making it easier to use, and ensuring communication at all stages. It will also support staff in the more effective management and processing of claims by reducing inefficiencies in the paper process by moving it online.

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13 July 2018

Making it happen – whatever the score

Filed under: Latest news, Student experience, What's on — Communications, CER @ 11:06 am

Our Make Happen students have been on campus for their residential summer school.

Year 12 students from Essex and beyond cheered for England from their residential summer school on Colchester Campus this week.

Their schedule was changed to allow them the chance to catch the game during their busy week –  living the student life,  staying in halls of residence and checking out what university offers them.

The summer schools are being run by the University of Essex and Make Happen – the collaborative outreach programme aimed at inspiring the young people of Essex to look at higher education as a route to achieving their ambitions.

The focus for some of the students at this week’s Make Happen residential  summer school is sport science – and the young people have been learning about working in elite sports, using movement and exercise to rehabilitate injuries and how to use cutting edge performance analysis techniques in coaching.

The students enjoyed watching the England match as part of their experience of living on campus

Make Happen’s Luke French said  “ It’s the dream of many of our guests to work in elite sport, you never know  we may have the England Football Team coach  or physio for the 2022 World Cup in our midst!”

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