Students Staff
University of Essex

March 22, 2019

Review of the Experiences of Jewish Students and Staff at the University of Essex Phase 2

I am writing to offer a further opportunity for students and staff to feed into the Review I am leading on the experiences of Jewish students and staff on all three campuses at the University of Essex.

First, I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to write or to meet. All comments have been helpful, and will help to shape the Review. I would now like to offer an independent route for any further testimony or comments.

The University has appointed an independent external group to act as recipients of testimony and to advise on the Review content and recommendations. These are:

  • Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger dbe, House of Lords, London
  • Simon Johnson, Chief Executive, Jewish Leadership Council, London
  • Mark Gardner, Deputy Chief Executive, Community Support Trust, London
  • Rt Hon Baroness Jan Royall, Principal, Somerville College Oxford

Assurances

I would like to offer the following assurances:

  • The core aim of the Review is to ensure that students and staff are able to thrive at the University of Essex and have a positive experience during their time here;
  • The University will not tolerate antisemitic behaviour in any form and will act whenever it becomes aware of such behaviour;
  • Communications to the external independent group will be treated as confidential and anonymous and there will be no reference to specific communications in any report without the consent of the communicator(s);
  • Communications to the independent group will not be made public;
  • The University will take matters further where university policies appear to have been breached, whilst respecting the confidentially of the process.

There is thus one additional route for passing testimony, experiences and recommendations:

  • By email to this account: independent-group@essex.ac.uk
  • All correspondence will be passed directly to the independent group (with no editing or shaping by the University).
  • The deadline for comments will be 4 April.
  • The dvc@essex.ac.uk email remains open for any comments you would like to pass to me.

I will be providing an update to the University Council on 13 May 2019, with the final report to be discussed and approved on 11 July.

The independent group looks forward to all feedback.

With best wishes

Professor Jules Pretty OBE PFHEA FRSB FRSA

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Environment & Society

University of Essex



March 21, 2019

How Essex informs global humanitarian debates

Our human rights community has a global reputation for theory, teaching and practice. That reputation was illustrated this month when the United Nations chose Essex for a global symposium to discuss humanitarian responses to crises. Professor Geoff Gilbert, from the School of Law, explains.

Professor Geoff Gilbert

Professor Geoff Gilbert

There are more than 40million people internally displaced because of conflict. Their particular vulnerabilities are complex and men, women, girls and boys are affected in different ways.

In ensuring no one’s needs go unmet because of age, gender or diversity mainstreaming, the United Nations turned to our multi-disciplinary human rights experts to hold a global symposium tackling the issue.

The UN’s Global Protection Cluster (GPC), which is responsible for protecting conflict-driven internally displaced persons, met at our Colchester Campus to work with our Human Rights Centre and ESRC-funded Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project (HRBDT) team.

The symposium was an opportunity to draw on our expertise in collecting information about people that could assist humanitarian responses.

At present, there are about 130 million persons of concern to the UN, with 43 million internally displaced, who are caught up in conflicts in places such as Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Ukraine.

Necessarily, the relevant humanitarian actors are trying to bring some order to that chaos.

Humanitarian agencies collect vast amounts of information on the 130 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. At the same time, they often lack information about the age, gender or characteristics of people in need, inhibiting their efforts to provide protection and assistance.

A lack of coherence and innovation in information gathering leads to multiple information gathering exercises, which exhausts people in need, stretches resources and often fails to provide helpful data. Against this background, humanitarian agencies are challenged to do better in assisting people according to their needs but are also challenged to take action outside their comfort zone.

Almost all of the operations with a Humanitarian Country Team are characterised by conflict based on ethnic and religious lines or where such differences affect the humanitarian response.

Conflict differentially impacts men, women, boys and girls and those with particular vulnerabilities, as well as creating further vulnerability.

In addition, these operations are in the main characterised by difficulties in accessing people in need, gathering reliable information, analysing the severity of need and defining priorities.

An approach to humanitarian assistance, which requires working towards a reduction in risk, demands that humanitarian agencies identify needs accurately and work in an imaginative way to respond to need – be it to stay, to flee, to receive aid or psychosocial support. Individually, none of these questions are easy to answer and together they present a sizeable problem.

The Essex symposium brought together experts in protection and information management from the field, government, international organisations and academics.

Together we explored what is and is not possible for humanitarian agencies to do in promoting age, gender and diversity mainstreaming through data: to challenge all these actors to do more and better, but to set realistic expectations of what can be achieved.

It follows a long association between the GPC and the HRBDT Project that has sought to ensure that the academic research has an impact in some of the world’s most acute crises.

Most recently, Simon Russell, GPC Co-ordinator, invited myself, Professor Klaus McDonald-Maier from our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, and Sam Dubbberly, consultant to HRBDT, to present work of the HRBDT to its field mission directors. As a result, Essex was the obvious choice for a discussion on data collection in humanitarian operations.

The symposium involved GPC leads from Ukraine and Iraq, data collection specialists, representatives from the Department for International Development and the Swiss government, Stonewall, and field actors who provide assistance and protection.

Essex contributors included myself, Dr Daragh Murray, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, Dr Ayman Alhelbawy and Dr Patricia Palacios Zuloaga.

Students from our LLMs in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law too got valuable note-taking experience, ensuring our Essex human rights community plays a crucial role in the resulting UN report.



March 15, 2019

We remain impatient for change

Susie Morgan

Susie Morgan, Director of Human Resources

Susie Morgan, our Director of Human Resources, tells us more about our ongoing work to close the gender pay gap.

The Government requirement for all UK employers with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap data reflects the importance of fair pay for women, both nationally and for the University. In an article in the Times Higher following the publication of the first national data on fair pay, our Vice-Chancellor said that we must resist attempts to explain away the gender pay gap. This remains the case after the second year of data has been published.

The gender pay gap is the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across an organisation. This should not be confused with equal pay for work of equal value, which is the pay women and men receive for doing the same or similar work. In relation to equal pay for work of equal value we have no significant pay gaps at any grade across the University. However, in relation to the gender pay gap, whilst we have seen a 7.2% reduction in the overall mean gap between 2013 and 2018, and in the last 12 months a further reduction of 1% on the 2017 figure, it is still too high. The median gender pay gap also remains unacceptably high at 18.6%, the same as in the last reporting period.

We have made some progress in increasing the proportion of female professors, which is 8.4% above the sector average. There has also been a 2.1% increase in the proportion of women in the highest pay quartile between 2017 and 2018. The proportion of women in grades 9, 10 and 11 increased from 42.1% to 43.9% in the year from March 2017 to March 2018 and there has been a 4.4% increase in the proportion of female academic staff over the last five years to 44.4%. This is all good news, but our progress is too slow and we remain impatient for change. So, what are we doing to close these gaps?

All departments are now engaged in Athena SWAN and we are extending this to Professional Services sections. This means that across the whole of the University, conversations about gender equality/inequality are taking place and staff are implementing actions to close the gender pay gap. In the latter part of 2018 we put in place a robust system to monitor completion of essential training (a policy introduced in 2017), with reminders going to individuals and reporting managers. Although completion rates have risen by 18% to 46% since the policy was introduced, they are still unacceptably low. Essential training is important as it helps to ensure that across the University, our decision-making practices are aligned to our commitment to transparency, natural justice in the workplace and – very importantly in this context, the avoidance of bias.

We are continuing to use positive action statements in all recruitment material, embedding unconscious bias training, running academic promotion workshops, engaging with informal networks, encouraging flexible working and we have put in place robust processes to manage any variations in salary. Our gender pay gap report outlines our other actions.

The eradication of the gender pay gap is a critical measure of our success in living by our values, and every member of the University can be involved in helping achieve this. If you have a particular interest or are conducting research in this area or have ideas to help with this work, we would be very pleased to hear from you at
diversity@essex.ac.uk.



February 28, 2019

Support and Solidarity with our Jewish students and staff

Our community joined together in a public show of support and solidarity for our Jewish students and staff.  Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anthony Forster, addressed a crowd of some 500 people. You can read his speech, and a statement from our Chancellor, The Rt Hon John Bercow, here. 

Our Vice-Chancellor, Anthony Forster.

At the University of Essex we have a tradition of coming together to show the strength of our feeling about an issue, to demonstrate our support for each other and to stand shoulder to shoulder as individuals and as a community, on issues that matter to us.

We are a University that must live by our values and the events of last week have called into question our commitment to these values.

It is right that the Jewish Society has now been formed, and I know that the University and the Students’ Union will do all in our power to enable it to flourish alongside our other societies.

This is however only one step. On behalf of our community, I want to speak out against all forms of antisemitism. Today we have come together to show that antisemitism is completely antithetical to the values of the University of Essex – and it has absolutely no place on our campuses and in our relationships with each other.

The President of our Students’ Union, Tancrede Chartier.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition and associated examples are our guide.  “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Antisemitism will not end simply because we stood together on this day at this time to oppose it. What coming together achieves is a public show of solidarity and support, making clear what we stand for. It is another step in demonstrating our values and our support for all our Jewish students and staff. Each and every one of our community needs to ensure that by our actions, the lived experience of Jewish people at our University is one of which we can be proud.

Our Chancellor the Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons cannot be with us today, but John has sent me a statement of solidarity which expresses so much better than I can, my utter dismay at what has happened and how we must now go forward.

Amy-Julie Fogiel, the President of our Jewish Society, also addressed the assembled crowds.

I want to share his statement with you:

I am sorry that I cannot be with you in person today. My duty as Speaker is to chair proceedings in the House of Commons. Yet I am with you in spirit and I ask for your attention for just two minutes.

Graduating from the University of Essex nearly 34 years ago is one of the happiest memories of my life. Serving as your Chancellor is amongst my greatest privileges. Why? Because a belief in equality, human rights and non-discrimination is as deep-rooted in the University’s veins as it is in mine. That is why I was mortified last week that the University laid itself open to the charge of antisemitism. That too is why I support the Vice-Chancellor, Anthony Forster, and his colleagues, unequivocally and passionately, in acting to cleanse the University of that ugly and damaging stain.

Let me be clear. The right of free association within the law is one of the most fundamental and precious rights. Jewish students and staff enjoy that right with, equal to and no different from, anyone else. The right to meet, to be themselves, and to assert their Jewish identity is inalienable. It is unconditional. It is non-negotiable. It does not depend upon what such students and staff think of the government of Israel, the state of the Middle East peace process, or any particular policy – be it national, international or global.

Our community gathered to show our support for our Jewish students and staff.

Freedom under the law. Mutual respect. Celebrating the rights of others, not merely our own. These are my core values, your core values, the core values of the Essex University we know and love. Let us reassert these core values today.

I would like to invite everyone present to give a round of applause as a sign of our solidarity with our Jewish students and staff – thank you.



Review of the Experiences of Jewish Students and Staff at the University of Essex

Dear student and staff members of the Essex community,

I am writing to offer the opportunity for students and staff to feed into the Review I am leading on the experiences of Jewish students and staff on all three campuses at the University of Essex.

There are three routes for passing information, experiences and recommendations:

  • By email to this account: dvc@essex.ac.uk
  • By meeting in person: please email dvc@essex.ac.uk to select and arrange a meeting time on either Tuesday 5 March or Monday 11 March
  • By meeting in person with an appointed external and independent member of the Jewish community (appointment to be confirmed; details to follow), and/or organisation (Union of Jewish Students, Community Support Trust, Council for Christians and Jews).

The Review will be reporting to the University Council on 13 May 2019.

The Aims of Review are as follows:

  • The Review will gather information on the experiences of Jewish students and staff at the University of Essex. It will draw upon best practice and expertise outside the University as well as inside.
  • The Review will identify ways in which the University can have greater confidence that the experience of Jewish students and staff reflects the University’s unequivocal commitments and values to equality, diversity and tolerance.

The Review will thus:

  • Make recommendations to the University’s Council (on 13 May) on actions that the University should take to address all issues of concern that arise from the review;
  • Identify mechanisms so that Council will be able to satisfy itself that through clear actions the University is having a positive impact on the lived experience of Jewish students and staff;
  • Draw any wider conclusions of relevance to all minority groups at the University to ensure that all communities, including minority faith communities, at Essex feel welcome.

I look forward to your emails and/or meeting in person.

With best wishes,

Professor Jules Pretty OBE PFHEA FRSB FRSA

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Environment & Society

University of Essex

E jpretty@essex.ac.uk



Our multidisciplinary approach to understanding global conflict

Professor Noam Lubell is the Director of the Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub. Here, he explores our multidisciplinary approach to understanding armed conflict and crisis across the world. 

From Syria and Yemen, to the Central African Republic and the Philippines, armed conflicts and crisis plague our world.

Professor Noam Lubell

Professor Noam Lubell

Some crises receive our full attention, while other, equally tragic situations, are rarely reported in the west. Meanwhile the bloodshed and suffering is staggering.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo alone there have been an estimated five million conflict-related deaths, over 800,000 refugees and an estimated 4.5 million displaced people.

Efforts to alleviate the suffering must rest on solid foundations, guided by clear principles, and administered through effective organisations, all things we at Essex excel in.

Our role in ending the suffering

For decades, experts in our Human Rights Centre have been working together on issues of conflict and crisis, but 2019 marks step-change.

Today they are collaborating in a new, multidisciplinary Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub which has one of the largest collections in the world of experts working in this field. Through research, teaching and practice we can make a global difference.

The breadth of Essex expertise

Our members are engaged in the study of how unrest develops into crisis. They work on issues such as the role of media and journalistic practices in conflict and transition to democracy, the dynamics of authoritarian regimes, and the history of conflicts and their impact on societies. We also have members working on issues such as social work practice in times of conflict.

The legal regimes regulating conflict and crisis and providing protection to victims of war are paramount. When laws of armed conflict are violated, it is of crucial importance to conduct effective investigations to uncover the truth and ensure accountability.

Our members work to achieve this. They are holding major powers accountable for inadequate investigations, and leading a project to create new international guidelines for conducting investigations with the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Equally, we work with partners in the field focusing on the protection of refugees and internally displaced persons, and providing care for those affected. Our members also have particular expertise in relation to specific conflicts and regions, including the implementation of humanitarian law in Africa, and building peace in Colombia.

States are not the only major players affecting the unfolding of armed conflicts. Armed conflicts often involve non-state actors, and one of the difficult issues we work upon is the human rights obligations of armed groups, and the impact of business and corporate actors. New technologies too are beginning to affect the practice of conflict and we engage in analysis and projects on topics such as cyber-attacks, use of autonomous weapons, and enhancement of humans to create ‘super soldiers’.

Our education that makes change possible

We provide training and advice, to the military, governments, non-governmental-organisations, and courts, bringing our academic expertise, and breadth of research, to life through practical application.

Our new LLM in International Humanitarian Law, one of very few degrees in the world focused on the international legal protections offered during armed conflict and acute crisis, means Essex graduates will affect change for decades to come.

Our excellent education, with the practical opportunities to apply that learning such as through the Digital Verification Unit, or the Rule of Law in Armed Conflict Project (RULAC) with Geneva Academy, or the Pictet competition (of which our students are the reigning international champions), mean Essex students receive an unrivalled experience.

The Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub embodies the Essex spirit of combining theory and practice, and we are extremely excited about the further activities that can be generated through this collective endeavour.



February 22, 2019

Speaking out against all forms of antisemitism

Professor Anthony Forster

Professor Anthony Forster, Vice-Chancellor

We are a University that must live by our values and the events of this week have raised important questions for us. On behalf of our community, I want to speak out against all forms of antisemitism.

Antisemitism and any other form of hate crime are antithetical to the values of the University and have no place on our campuses. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition and associated examples are our guide. This states that, “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

I am pleased the Students’ Union’s Sabbatical Officer team has now met and, following a discussion with the Trustee Board, has made the joint decision to ratify the Jewish Society immediately.

Serious allegations have been made against a member of University staff. In accordance with our University procedures, an independent investigation of these allegations has been initiated and whilst this takes place a member of staff has been suspended. The creation of a Students’ Union Jewish Society and the allegations made against a member of staff require us to address specific issues, but we must also ask ourselves some hard questions about the lived experience of Jewish students and staff at Essex and ensure we are a community that is genuinely welcoming and supportive to all.

I have therefore asked the Deputy Vice-Chancellor to lead a review asking our Jewish students and staff to share their experiences of studying, living and working at Essex. The review will, within the next 8 weeks: identify ways in which we can have greater confidence that the experience of Jewish students and staff reflects our commitments and values; and

  • make recommendations to the University’s Council on actions that we should take to address any issues of concern that arise from the review;
  • identify mechanisms so that Council will be able to satisfy itself that through our actions we are having a positive impact on the lived experience of Jewish students and staff; and
  • draw any wider conclusions of relevance to all faith groups at the University, so that we ensure that all faith communities at Essex feel welcome.

We don’t accept any form of antisemitism in our community and I am therefore asking you to join me on Thursday 28th February at 1pm in Square 3 in a public show of solidarity and support, making this clear and demonstrating our support for our Jewish students and staff.



February 14, 2019

Using our purchasing power for the benefit of our students

Chris Oldham, Director of Estates and Campus Services, tells us more about making the most of our supply chain for the benefit of our students.

Chris Oldham

Chris Oldham

Over the past year The Procurement Services team has been making the most of the University’s supply chain for the benefit of our students. Encouraging our suppliers to provide a student benefit focus within their tender bid has resulted in a wide range of education and employability skills based opportunities for our students and graduates.

To make the most of our purchasing power, a mandatory social value question has been added in all tenders worth more than £25,000, asking bidders to describe how they will support our student community in their development. Their responses are then evaluated and scored accordingly.

There have already been some early successes

  • Legal firm Eversheds Sutherland offering a guest speaker into the School of Law programme introducing a mentoring scheme for law students and developing a potential placement scheme at their Ipswich office
  • Accountancy firm KPMG running an annual skills event for students and promoting our Careers Mentoring Programme to their staff to encourage them to become mentors to our students
  • Rose Builders offering mentoring and placements
  • Phelan Construction offering placement opportunities including roles in administration, marketing and IT
  • Atlantic Data offering student placements
  • Cyber security company KHIPU Networks offering student sponsorship opportunities as well as work experience and graduate roles.

USG has approved a range of recommendations with the aim of delivering an element of direct or indirect student benefit within 50 per cent of all successful tenders. These recommendations include:

  • Adopting UUK guidance for delivering successful social impact and student benefit
  • Continuing to prioritise student benefit as the primary objective of social impact outcomes
  • Evaluating social impact matrices used by other universities and developing a matrix relevant to our specific aims and objectives
  • Strengthening the connection between the Knowledge Gateway and University communities through an increased range of engagement and networking events

If you would like further information, or any guidance on how to maximise student benefit within tenders you are involved with, please email procure@essex.ac.uk or visit our website.



January 25, 2019

We remain an international community where you find the world in one place

With Government continuing to debate the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anthony Forster, reaffirms our position as an international University community. 

Parliament is currently debating the EU Withdrawal Act and will vote again next week. We are a University which prides itself on our international outlook and I want to take this opportunity to reassure our community that no matter what the outcome of next week’s vote – the University of Essex is and will remain an inclusive international community and a home for those who want to make the world a better place.

Our Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster

As I first set out in my blog following the EU referendum our approach will not change – we will continue to seize opportunities to support our mission and to collaborate, share, and work in partnership with colleagues in Europe and across the globe, in our tireless pursuit of excellence in education and excellence in research.

We will continue to work closely with Universities UK and with friends and supporters in Parliament to secure access to research funding, free movement and mobility schemes for staff and students and to safeguard the rights of our EU 27 staff. I have written an open letter to the Minister for HE and published an article in the Guardian  setting out why strong links in Europe are core to promoting a global Britain agenda, once the UK leaves the EU.

Our commitment to nurturing strong links in Europe is underlined by our inclusion as one of the 18 founding members of the Young European Research Universities Network (YERUN). A pan-Europe initiative, YERUN aims to empower researchers, help design the future research environment, work with industry to ensure research is aligned with the labour market and ensure graduates have employability skills.

In addition I am delighted that on Wednesday Senate approved our participation in a network of seven young European research intensive universities (who are some of our closest partners in the YERUN network), who share an ambition to shape the future of Europe and want to accelerate integration of education and research activities. The Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE) group of seven universities will submit a proposal to the Commission’s ‘European Universities Initiative’ in February, which aims to bring together a new generation of creative Europeans who are able to courage across languages borders and disciplines to address big societal challenges and skills shortages that Europe faces.

Professor Forster played an integral role in the establishment of the YERUN network.

We have strengthened our recruitment presence across the globe to ensure we continue to recruit our fair share of talented students from around the world. We are developing new partnerships, we are using our global network of alumni to engage in more locations and reach more people, and we are using our in-country teams to identify emerging opportunities and make new connections through local knowledge.

On our campuses, we have run a range of events and activities to support and advise staff on residency and nationality issues. Susie Morgan, our Director of HR has recently published a blog on the steps we are taking. Our EU referendum web pages contain information for staff, from details on naturalisation, permanent residence and information on funding for research projects to details of the EU settlement scheme.

And it was in direct response to our community’s concerns, that we established our ‘One Essex’ inclusivity campaign. ‘One Essex’ puts our vision and our ethos succinctly: One World One Spirit, One Essex and it is this thought I want to leave you with: that while UK’s position in relation to the European Union may change, our values will remain the same. The University of Essex will always be a cosmopolitan community, committed to inclusivity and internationalism, and a place where you can find the world in one place.

 

ONE WORLD, ONE SPIRIT, ONE ESSEX

At Essex we’re proud of our diversity, our people and our inclusive spirit.

We’re proud of our global community and we’re celebrating these values with One Essex.

Our One Essex inclusivity campaign puts our ethos succinctly.

OUR GLOBAL COMMUNITY

Essex is home to people from all over the world.

We’ll respect and support each other, no matter who we are or where we come from.

Join us in making sure that we are a welcoming and supportive community and a place that feels safe and inclusive.



January 24, 2019

Why student surveys matter

Our Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), Professor Madeline Eacott, tells us why the results of the annual National Student Survey (NSS) are so important.

Professor Madeline Eacott

Professor Madeline Eacott

Here at Essex we believe in putting student success at the heart of everything we do. The NSS survey gives the University the opportunity to receive direct, anonymous feedback from our own students on how they think we are doing. And, of course, this gives us an opportunity to improve.

Launched in 2005, the NSS asks all final year undergraduate students 27 questions (listed below) covering all aspects of their living and learning experience, including the teaching, assessment and academic support available as well as aspects such as how they are able to contribute their views and feel part of the learning community.

As an institution, we can also add an optional question. This year we chose to ask ‘What single change would have had the most positive impact on the quality of your learning experience at the University of Essex?’

The results of the NSS are made publicly available on Unistats to help prospective students make informed decisions about where and what to study.  They also make a substantial contribution to our ranking in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide, as well as other UK ranking systems.

So once the survey is complete, and the results are in, what happens next?

The results are scrutinised in many places. Each department, for example, considers the results from their own students and agrees a plan of actions with their Executive Dean in relation to improving their courses.

But alongside this departmental scrutiny, the results are considered at an institutional level to see whether there are any broader issues raised. For example, the library examines results across departments to see how we can improve the library services we offer to our students and the Student Experience Committee considers all the free-text comments to pick out any common themes which could be addressed.

Given the multitude of ways the data is considered and actions planned, there might be a danger of an uncoordinated response. For this reason, I chair an NSS Coordination Group, attended by our three Executive Deans, alongside four senior colleagues from Academic Section and CER.

The group’s brief is to ensure there is a coherent and consistent approach across the University in terms of delivering on the many and various action plans that come from consideration of our NSS results. Ultimately, our aim is to ensure we offer an excellent education with which students will be very satisfied.

We work together to make meaningful improvements.

Our students are at the heart of this process. Not only is the NSS data provided by final year students at Essex, current students and the SU also help us understand how we can use it to improve student satisfaction.

For example at the Senior Staff Conference in November dedicated to improving student satisfaction, SU President, Tanki Chartier, and SU VP Education, Edmund Walker spoke passionately about the student experience and initiatives were launched as a result.

Equally, departments are holding focus groups with their students to understand how they can better support their students’ learning. One outcome has been that many departments have launched for the first time this year mid-module feedback to allow students to give feedback early in the module so that action can be taken to rectify any issues before the module ends.

 The 2019 NSS will go live from Monday 4 February and runs until Tuesday 30 April.

Each year, teams from across our University pull together to encourage students to complete the survey. Our response rates are good. Last year we achieved 68% compared with a national average of 65%. This year we are aiming for at least 70%.

Everyone can contribute.

Whether our roles involve encouraging students to explore new ideas, assessing their coursework, staffing the library, building new classrooms, fixing IT systems, or devising timetables, we’re all here to help students get the very best out of their time at Essex.

The NSS is a snapshot of our efforts, through the eyes of our students. I hope that when the 2019 survey launches we will all be ready to play our part as members of this community. I hope we can coordinate our efforts to achieve the best response rate, the best results, and once the results are in, act with renewed energy to make continual improvements towards excellence in education.

NSS questions

NB for these questions, the surveys asks students to respond on a scale from ‘definitely agree’ to ‘definitely disagree’.

 The teaching on my course

  1. Staff are good at explaining things.
  2. Staff have made the subject interesting.
  3. The course is intellectually stimulating.
  4. My course has challenged me to achieve my best work.

Learning opportunities

  1. My course has provided me with opportunities to explore ideas or concepts in depth.
  2. My course has provided me with opportunities to bring information and ideas together from different topics.
  3. My course has provided me with opportunities to apply what I have learnt.

Assessment and feedback

  1. The criteria used in marking have been clear in advance.
  2. Marking and assessment has been fair.
  3. Feedback on my work has been timely.
  4. I have received helpful comments on my work.

Academic support

  1. I have been able to contact staff when I needed to.
  2. I have received sufficient advice and guidance in relation to my course.
  3. Good advice was available when I needed to make study choices on my course.

Organisation and management

  1. The course is well organised and is running smoothly.
  2. The timetable works efficiently for me.
  3. Any changes in the course or teaching have been communicated effectively.

Learning resources

  1. The IT resources and facilities provided have supported my learning well.
  2. The library resources (e.g. books, online services and learning spaces) have supported my learning well.
  3. I have been able to access course-specific resources (e.g. equipment, facilities, software, collections) when I needed to.

Learning community

  1. I feel part of a community of staff and students.
  2. I have had the right opportunities to work with other students as part of my course.

 Student voice

  1. I have had the right opportunities to provide feedback on my course.
  2. Staff value students’ views and opinions about the course.
  3. It is clear how students’ feedback on the course has been acted on.
  4. The students’ union (association or guild) effectively represents students’ academic interests.
  5. Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course.
  6. Looking back on the experience, are there any particularly positive or negative aspects you would like to highlight?

 NB there are also additional questions on NHS practice placements, Degree Apprenticeships and a bank of optional questions.


 

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