Students Staff

Student experience

27 October 2017

Zero tolerance of sexual violence, harassment or hate crime

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, People pages, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 3:14 pm

The University of Essex does not tolerate any acts of sexual violence, harassment, or hate crime.

Zero tolerance means that we will take action and that the action will be proportionate to the circumstances of the case.

We recognise that the issue of sexual violence, harassment and hate crime is a global problem, but we are doing what we can  to tackle it here – and are working hard to put a stop to it in our community.

In March our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anthony Forster, set out our commitment to being an inclusive community with a zero tolerance of hate crime and sexual violence.

Since then, work has progressed. Here’s an update of what we’ve achieved so far:

Progress on the Tackling Sexual Violence, Harassment and Hate Crime Project

We have a high level University Action Plan. Our Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jules Pretty, is the senior lead for this work, and the Director of Human Resources and the Academic Registrar are the people responsible for delivering the actions, all of which will be completed by the end of the academic year 2017–18.

A Project Officer has been appointed until July 2018 to support the implementation of the University’s Action Plan, and to work with colleagues from across the University and the Students’ Union to embed activity to shape the institutional culture in relation to sexual violence, harassment and hate crime.


The university now offers bystander intervention awareness workshops. Bringing in the Bystander® is a bystander intervention workshop with a robust evidence-base. Rather than focusing strictly on the roles of perpetrator and victim, the highly interactive curriculum focuses on what you can do to intervene. It teaches bystanders how to safely intervene in instances where sexual violence, relationship violence or stalking may be occurring or where there may be risk that it will occur.

Book your place online now.

Watch our #ItEndsNow videos on YouTube and Vimeo

These workshops will help students, academics, professional services staff and community members to:

  • IDENTIFY behaviours on a continuum of violence
  • DEVELOP empathy for those who have experienced violence
  • PRACTICE safe and appropriate intervention skills
  • COMMIT to intervene before, during and after an incident of sexual abuse, relationship violence and stalking occurs

Read our guidelines for dealing with harassment and bullying.

Reporting and support

Contact for information and support. If an assault has just taken place and you are not in a safe place, feel at risk, or have any injuries that require urgent attention, call the emergency services on 999.

If you are on campus, please follow the guidance available online about emergency contacts.

If you are living in University accommodation on the Southend or Colchester campuses, Security can alert senior on-call Residence Life staff.

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17 October 2017

“Southend is like home to me now”

Filed under: Latest news, Student experience — Heather Leathley @ 3:07 pm

Wherever you come from to study at Essex, the advice is the same, when you get here make sure you get out and about to make new friends and enjoy new experiences.

An image of Ernest Nyarko

Ernest Nyarko

Ernest Nyarko, the Students’ Union VP Southend explains how it felt to move to Essex from his home in Ghana.

“I had 12 offers from UK universities and I choose the Essex Business School at the University of Essex’s Southend Campus as the content of the course really interested me. After completing my degree in Ghana I wanted to go abroad to study, to experience other cultures and network with different people.

“I had never been to the UK before and I landed in Birmingham, from Dubai. My first impression was that it was pretty cold.

“The Southend Campus was also completely different. My university in Ghana was twice the size of the Colchester Campus so Southend Campus was quite small to me, though I have found this has plenty of advantages to it.

“It got dark so early here as well, I couldn’t figure out when I was meant to go to bed. The cold meant I had to wear a jacket and  that took a while to get used to.

“In class in Ghana I was quite timid, but when I started at Essex I became a course rep and started to make friends. The previous Vice President  of the Students’ Union in Southend urged me to stand for election and he finally persuaded me on the last day for nominations.

“My mother and brother laughed at me for doing it, but my brother said if you lose we will laugh, but it won’t be for long.

“I learnt a lot the first year so I decided to stand for a second year to put that learning into practice.

“Southend is like home to me now, it is a very calm place. I know everyone on Campus now and people in the High Street say hello. If you are coming to Essex from another country, I would say just put yourself out there, make the most of your course and be friendly.  That’s how I live my life in the UK.”

When Ida Bjorneras  (pictured centre) arrived from southern Norway to study for a PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) at the Colchester Campus,  she was overjoyed to see autumn for the second time in the same year. “When I left Norway the leaves had already fallen and then I saw it again at Colchester,  it was stunning to see, ” she said.

Ida Bjorneras holding certificate

Ida Bjorneras (centre)

“People in the UK are very friendly, you can strike up a conversation in a supermarket. Everyone on Campus is very sociable too and there is  an amazing atmosphere with so many different nationalities in one place.

“I would advise all students to get out and about as much as possible. Join as many clubs as you can, I went on to be President of the Equestrian Society. The people you meet will shape your whole experience.

“I was introduced to curries and love those. I’ve back in Norway now having finished my PPE degree and Masters course, but I make sure I have a curry whenever I am in the UK visiting my University friends.”

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28 September 2017

We know how you feel!

Filed under: People pages, Student experience — Heather Leathley @ 2:40 pm
Heather and Manda, our "empty nest survivors"

Heather and Manda, our “empty nest survivors”

As two ‘empty nest survivors’, Manda and Heather, who compose our friends@essex newsletter, appreciate that friends and families will have a lot of questions as they watch new undergraduates head off to University.

Manda’s daughter has just started at Liverpool and Heather’s daughter has completed her degree here at Essex.

Here are a few of their top tips for getting through the first few weeks:

  • It’s a real balancing act – walking the tightrope between interested and interfering parent.  And when students are heading off to university, even the most laidback of parents have their moments when they are in danger of crossing the line.
  • When you get to the new bedroom, prop the door ajar while you unload.  If you keep the bedroom door open in those valuable first few hours, it’s a welcome sign to all the other flatmates, who can pop their heads in to say hello. All the bedrooms have fire doors, so wedging the door open shouldn’t become a habit.
  • You may be planning a big supermarket shop before you head off.  There’s a large Tesco near the Colchester Campus and the best advice is to get there as early as possible.  By mid-afternoon on arrivals day it can be very chaotic.
  • In Southend, there’s a large Sainsbury’s supermarket opposite University Square, so no car required.  It is open 10am until 4pm on Sundays. In each kitchen at University Square you will find some cotton tote bags which can be used to carry back the shopping.
  • Disappear for an hour or so for a cup of tea and then come back to say goodbye. It doesn’t make that farewell too final and gives you both time to compose yourselves. It’s one of the reasons we now offer free tea and scones at Wivenhoe House on Arrivals Day, Sunday 1 October between 11am and 3pm.
  • In Southend you can blow off the cobwebs with a stroll on the promenade. It’s a good excuse for an ice-cream!
  • Let your student be the first to make contact, after you’ve departed for the journey home. It’s their moment to spread their wings and you don’t want to cramp their style by calling every 10 minutes, especially if you are having a whale of a time at home.
  • Be tough if you get that gut-wrenching homesick call. It will be one of the hardest things you have to do as a parent, but you have to do it, otherwise it could lead to regrets and recriminations on both sides.
  • If you head back during term-time for a visit, make a few frozen packs of a favourite family meal, in individual and group size. But whatever you do, don’t turn up unannounced!!!
  • A few silly little presents through the post can be a nice touch, even the most stoical of students will welcome the odd surprise gift or two.

Just remember, Christmas isn’t that far away.

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9 August 2017

Welcome 2017 needs you!

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, Student experience, What's on — Communications, CER @ 12:17 pm
We can all do our bit to help our new students feel they belong at Essex.

We can all do our bit to help our new students feel they belong at Essex.

Welcome 2017 is fast approaching and this year we want to deliver an even bigger and better Welcome experience; giving everyone the opportunity to get involved in creating a warm and friendly atmosphere for our new students.

This year’s welcome theme is belonging. We want every student to enjoy a smooth arrival, to feel that we care about them, that we’ll help them settle in and find friends – and that they belong at Essex.

But creating a sense of belonging, in so many different people, from so many different places and with so many different backgrounds isn’t going to be easy – and that’s where you come in.

We would like everyone, no matter what their role or position within our University, to be part of our Welcome team. We want our new students to be greeted by smiling faces, by staff that are willing to help, to help them find their way around campus and to make them feel like an important part of our unique community.

Research conducted by our own Dr Gillian Sandstrom has shown that students who feel a stronger sense of belonging are more likely to complete their degree and demonstrate higher achievement in their studies.

You can read more about Dr Sandstrom’s fascinating research in her interview on Essex Daily. Our Head of Residence Life, Victoria Frost, also shares her thoughts on how students who feel they matter to their university are more likely to succeed – and how all of us can play our part no matter what our role.

If you are able to take this one step further and volunteer for an official role as part of Arrivals Day, registration or Welcome, please fill in our quick form, letting us know your availability during the Welcome period and the kind of duties you’d be happy to perform. Take a look at Registration roles to see which you could volunteer for.

Graduation 2017 was a fantastic example of what a great event we can run if we all pull together. If you volunteered for Graduation – we’d love your help during Welcome, and if you didn’t – now’s your chance to lend a hand.

We very much appreciate any help you can give during this exciting time for our University. Welcome is our chance to show our Essex Spirit at its finest; to work together to show what a warm and welcoming place our campus is.

We hope everyone will embrace the chance to get involved.

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26 July 2017

Welcome 2017 – your role in helping new students feel they belong

Filed under: Latest news, People pages, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 3:40 pm

Did you know that students who feel a stronger sense of belonging are more likely to complete their degree, and demonstrate higher achievement in their studies? During Welcome 2017, we can all play a part in helping students feel that they belong. 

We spoke to Dr Gillian Sandstrom and Head of Residence Life, Victoria Frost, about how even saying “hello” to someone new can make a big difference to their experience settling in at Essex.

Dr Gillian Sandstrom

Dr Gillian Sandstrom

  • Tell us about your study Social Interaction and Well-Being: The Surprising Power of Weak Ties.

When I first arrived on campus there was quite a distance between the research lab and my supervisor’s office, and that walk took me past a hot dog stand. Somehow I developed a “relationship” with the lady who worked there; I would smile at her and say “hi” whenever I walked past. I realized that this always made me feel a bit better, like I belonged on campus. I ended up studying this phenomenon for my PhD.

I found that people who had, on average, more daily interactions with weak ties (i.e acquaintances) than other people were, on average, a little bit happier. Also, on days when people had more interactions with weak ties than they usually did, they tended to be a bit happier than they usually were.

I’ve been at Essex for two years now, and almost every time I walk across campus now, I see someone I know. It makes me feel at home here.

  • What can staff do to build these weak ties with students?

Just say “hi!” I ran a study involving my students. For one group, I stood at the door and greeted students as they arrived. Another group wrote their names on name boards, which were displayed on their desks. The third was a control group, which received no greeting and no name boards. Students in both of the experimental groups reported higher interest/enjoyment than students in the control group. This is something simple, that any instructor can do. Just make sure it’s genuine; if the students think your heart isn’t in it, it probably won’t be effective.

It’s not just academic staff that can build these connections with students. I stood on the pavement outside Starbucks, and bribed people to help with my research, by giving them Starbucks cards, which they had to use right away to buy a coffee. I asked some people to have their money ready and avoid unnecessary conversation.  I asked other people to have a genuine social interaction: smile, make contact, and have a brief conversation. When surveyed I found that people who had a minimal social interaction were in a better mood, enjoyed their experience more, and felt more connected to other people. This means everyone can make a difference, whether you’re in food services, cleaning services, security, or anything else.

  • What are the benefits to weak ties – apart from wellbeing?

Besides making both parties feel good, weak ties can provide a sense of belonging. One of my undergraduate students ran a survey assessing students’ campus involvement, use of support services, and social relationships, and how these were related to interest/enjoyment and belonging. Students who reported that more staff greeted them on campus also reported greater interest/enjoyment and a greater sense of belonging. This is crucial, because research shows that students who feel a stronger sense of belonging are more likely to complete their degree, and demonstrate higher achievement in their studies.


Victoria Frost is head of Residence Life and Student Development as part of our Student Support service.  She plays a vital role in the smooth running of our Arrivals and Welcome programmes and believes that we all have a part to play in creating the right welcoming atmosphere for new students.

Victoria Frost

Victoria Frost

Tell us about the “belonging” theme being applied to Arrivals and Welcome this year – what are we trying to achieve?

There’s a student development theory by Nancy Schlossberg called Mattering and Marginality. If a student feels like they matter to someone at the university, they get more involved in their university experience and develop and learn more. Feeling marginalised can be defined as a sense of not fitting in and can lead to self-consciousness, irritability, and depression. People are more likely to feel marginalised during transition periods, like starting university. It’s so important that students feel like they belong at the University of Essex.

  • How can the principles of “weak ties” be applied to Arrivals Day and Welcome?

We would love it if staff helped students find their way around, showed them the Find Your Way app, engaged them in conversation or introduced them to other students. If you see someone who looks lost, scared, or uncomfortable, go up and ask if you can help. Think about what you can do to help students get to know each other, in departmental events, in lectures, while they’re waiting in a queue. Even just smiling and saying hello can make a difference.

  • What about those who aren’t in student-facing roles? Can they play a part?

Absolutely! Everyone is involved in making students feel like they matter. Most staff will encounter students at some point in their day. You’re likely to pass someone walking to your office, or back home again. It might be during lunch, or walking to a meeting or someone else’s office. Wherever you see a student, there’s an opportunity to use a weak tie, to make them feel like they matter.

  • If I see someone looking lost or alone – should I approach them? Even though that isn’t my job?

Please do. Colchester Campus can be really confusing to navigate for new people (actually, sometimes even for those of us who have been here for years!). It can make a big difference to just offer some help. Whatever you’re able to do.  Helping a student to build confidence and develop competence can help them feel like they belong here.

  • If I don’t know how to direct someone – who should I refer them to?

If it’s about trying to find a location and you don’t know it, walk the student to the Information Centre if you can. For a lot of student service queries, refer the student to the Student Information Desk on the first floor of the Silberrad Student Centre. They’re a really knowledgeable team and can answer a lot of questions or make a further referral if appropriate.

  • Does the “weak ties” theory apply just to Arrivals and Welcome? Or does it apply all year round?

It’s definitely applicable, throughout the year and actually throughout the student’s entire time at the University of Essex. It’s applicable for undergraduate and postgraduate students too. It is particularly important at the beginning of each year; there’s evidence that the first six weeks are the most important time period for making sure a student feels that sense of belonging.

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12 June 2017

Rebel Radio’s election night special

Filed under: Campus news, Student experience — Tags: — Communications Office @ 5:08 pm
Students at Rebel Radio

Students broadcasting live during election night

Rebel Radio, the University’s student radio station, ran an all-night election special in association with our journalism students, Here, journalism student Alex Maxam gives his report on the night.


Rebel, the university’s student media collective, had extensive and in-depth coverage of election night with both a live radio show and a live blog.

With coverage spanning from 10pm until 6.30am, Rebel Radio was on air with Thomas Rowson, Lauren Moore and Chantel Le Carpentier providing news and analysis throughout. There were also bulletins every half hour provided by students from the Multimedia Journalism course, which featured the latest updates and reaction from an exciting and unpredictable election night.

The live blog, run by Jesse Harrison Lowe and Rowena Field-Carter, was updated on a nearly minute by minute basis.

Thanks to weeks of planning from Jesse, who led the project, Rebel had reporters down at the Colchester count to provide insight as to how it was going, as well as reporters in the Students’ Union Bar to get student reaction to what was happening. The blog also announced the Colchester result faster than both the BBC and Sky.

Rebel had a determined team of 14 students working through the night to provide the coverage, as well as eight Multimedia Journalism students and three lecturers. The tireless effort from everyone involved was all worthwhile with excellent radio and blog coverage of the night, as well as providing an invaluable experience for those involved.

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15 May 2017

Students get insight into working of European Parliament

Filed under: Latest news, Student experience — Communications Office @ 11:39 am

BrusselsAbout 40 students got the chance to meet members of the European Parliament during a special trip to Brussels.

The trip was funded by the Opinion Multiplier Scheme, which aims to encourage more interest in the European Parliament. During the trip the Government and Language and Linguistic students met people who work at the European Parliament and also visited the European External Action Service, which manages the funding for charities, third world countries and relief aid for natural disasters.

Professor Han Dorussen, from the Department of Government, said: “The visit to the European Parliament and the European External Action Service has given Essex students a unique opportunity to learn about the day-to-day activities of the EU. EU officials gave an honest introduction to the ambitions and challenges of European cooperation and fully addressed questions. They also informed students about internships and working in Brussels.”

Lexa Olivera-Smith, from the Department of Language and Linguistics, said: “We are very grateful to Essex Abroad and the Opinion Multiplier Scheme for this wonderful opportunity. Our students felt privileged to have first-hand experience of the inner workings of EU institutions. For the MA Translation students it was particularly exciting to learn more about the linguistic side of operations and to have a close look at the impressive interpreting facilities.”

Jan Spalek, Short-term Programmes Manager at Essex Abroad, said: “We were delighted to receive a grant from the European Parliament Opinion Multiplier Scheme to take 40 students to Brussels to visit the European Parliament and European External Action Service. We have been able to visit the voting chamber, listen to engaging presentations and learn a lot about how these important organisations operate. As a very engaged group – we have also debated variety of issues including Brexit, and the future of Europe as well as the recent changes in the European political climate. We were also pleased to meet Essex alumnus Georgi Nenchev who now works at the European Parliament and who delivered an excellent talk.”

Klaudijus Jarusevicius, who is studying international relations, said: “I enjoyed my time in Brussels. I learned about the European parliament, all its values and the day-to-day agenda. It’s a perfect eye-opener as to where I want to work, and it gave me a glimpse into the future job I would like later on in life.”

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14 March 2017

Hear the LGBT+ stories from Essex

Filed under: Latest news, People pages, Student experience — Tags: — Communications Office @ 1:50 pm

LGBT-newStudents and staff from the University have written a book about their LGBT+ experiences and stories.

The book – LGBT+ Perspectives – The University of Essex Reader - was compiled and edited by Dr Ilaria Boncori, from the Essex Pathways Department. It contains stories, experiences, narratives and subjects from all different people’s lives.

This book conveys different perspectives of gender identity and sexual orientation and can help to enlighten many people who feel uneducated on this topic, as well as help those who feel unsure about whom they are.

Dr Boncori explained: “This book offers a collection of different perspectives on LGBT+ matters written by University of Essex staff and students for all of us – students, teachers, parents, friends and workers. LGBT+ Perspectives includes personal experiences, research findings and professional stories that provide further insight on how gender identity and sexual orientation permeate our private and professional lives, with the aim to foster understanding and inclusion.”

LGBT+ Perspectives – The University of Essex Reader is available from the publishers Editoriale Scientifica and will soon be available on Amazon.

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6 February 2017

We are the champions

Filed under: People pages, Sport, Student experience — Tags: , — Communications Office @ 6:19 pm
Our men's and women's volleyballl squad

Our men’s and women’s volleyball squad at the Volleyball England National Student Cup finals

Our men’s volleyball team have been crowned Volleyball England National Student Cup Champions.

The competition started with teams being whittled down to the top 32 university and college men’s and women’s teams during several qualifying matches held across the country. The 32 student teams then battled it out over the weekend at the finals tournament at the University of East Anglia.

Both our men’s and women’s teams progressed through the group stage on Saturday without dropping a set, and then progressed further through the knock-out stages on Sunday with both teams reaching the final.

The women won silver after losing 2-0 in the final to last year’s runners-up Newcastle University, but the men won a thrilling final 2-1 against Bournemouth University, who have won the cup for the last three years.

Delighted Essex volleyball performance coach Alex Porter said: “I’m very proud of the athletes at the University of Essex and pleased to see all their hard work pay off.

“We set out in September with the goal of winning the double and they have pushed themselves to the limits to make this happen. We strive to improve each day and take every opportunity to develop as athletes, teams and as a programme. Final year student Toby French had an excellent performance in the final which is a testament to his three years of hard work. And fellow final year student Amelia Stamp dominated the passing unit in the women’s squad throughout the weekend, bringing a calming figure to the team.”


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27 January 2017

Hit the heights in Poland

Filed under: Latest news, Student experience — Heather Leathley @ 5:47 pm
Perform with StiltsPro in Poland.

Learn stilt-walking skills with StiltsPro in Poland.

If you are interested in street theatre, there’s a fantastic course on offer in Poland this summer organised by fellow students at the Southend East 15 Acting School.

StiltsPro Theatre Company, run by East 15 students, in partnership with Teatr Avatar from Poland are running a unique two week course for stage people to get a comprehensive training and diploma in stilt-walking, acrobatics and many other street theatre skills.

The cost is £600 including everything but the flights.

For more information contact Piotr Pawarski, email:

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