Students Staff

24 February 2020

We hear you!

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Laura Mathias @ 10.56 am

Meet the student voice ambassador team – they’re supporting this year’s NSS, UKES and PTES student survey campaigns.

Emily Osborne, Robert Hay and Ryan Grosu are student voice ambassadors and part of the Student Experience Team led by Hannah Gott within the Academic Section. Emily has recently graduated in MA Curatorial Studies, Ryan was awarded his MSC Criminology with Social Legal Research and Robert received his BA in History and Film Studies with a Year Abroad.

Student Voice Ambassador Team

As such, they’re very well-placed to gather feedback from current Essex students on all aspects of the Essex experience, both academic and non-academic. Their primary responsibilities include promotion and administration of the National Student Survey (NSS), UK Engagement Survey (UKES) and the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) – all three of which the University is running until mid-April, reaching undergraduate students in their first, second and third years, as well as Masters students.

Their role also includes supporting our departments, schools and centres with their own campaign activities. This could be popping into lectures to talk about the surveys, decorating common room spaces, and holding pizza parties with some departments – as part of the effort to encourage as many students as possible to fill in their surveys and be heard.

Emily said: “Feedback provided by students is strictly anonymous. It’s really beneficial in helping the University and the Students’ Union find out more about what aspects of university life need to be developed or improved, based on the way current students see things – because you are the expert of your own experience! So, if something is going brilliantly or not so well, we want to hear what you’ve got to say about it.”

The team is also committed to sharing best practice across the University, such as adapting ideas about incentives that might work in one department and fit well in another.

The student voice ambassador roles are taken up by new graduates each year and offer some great experience and skills development to the graduates that are appointed. Emily added: “In terms of the job role, after graduating with BA and MA degrees at Essex, the experience that we are getting from this employment is a real benefit and looks excellent on our CVs! We are learning so many work-based processes and getting great employability skills – we definitely recommend applying for this role next year, so keep your eyes peeled over the summer vacation for the job ads with Essex Interns.”

This year the University is donating £1 for every survey completed. Emily said: “The numbers really add up – last year we managed to donate over £3000 – but that’s only possible if as many students as possible complete their survey.”

Can we beat last year’s total? If there’s a survey for you to complete, you’ll be sent an email, so just click the link and take a few minutes to have your say.

Find out more about the NSS, UKES and PTES surveys, and if you’d like to have a chat with the student voice ambassadors, pop in to room 5A.116 on Colchester Campus, or send them an email to

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6 February 2020

Enter the Spring Sustainability Photography Competition

Filed under: News — Laura Mathias @ 3.40 pm

We are running a photo competition to showcase the biodiversity of our campuses.

Submit a photo taken on our Colchester, Southend or Loughton Campus that captures the nature and environment and you could win a £30 voucher.

Photo of bees

Previous winning entry by Ainsley Wilkins

We have two categories you can enter your photo into:

1. Spring into action

We are looking for photos that showcase individuals reducing their carbon footprint or completing a sustainable action.

2. Show the campus in a new light

We want images that showcase areas of campus that are not usually visited and which will encourage others to explore more of campus as we enter spring.

Two winning photos from each category will win a £30 voucher.

What you need to know:

  • This competition is open to all staff and students.
  • Photos must be over 1MB in size.
  • Submissions should be titled and include a short description in the email to provide context to the photograph.
  • You must be happy for the photo to be shared on our website and social media accounts.
  • If your photo is chosen you will be notified.

How to enter:

Photo of campus

Previous winning entry by Antonio Vivas

Photo of autumn on Colchester Campus

Previous winning entry by Greg Cadge









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National Apprenticeship Week

Filed under: News — Laura Mathias @ 9.53 am

Fletcher Hurn is currently undertaking our Digital and Technology Solutions Apprenticeship at online games developer, Slingo Originals Studio.

The studio is based at our Parkside Office Village on the Knowledge Gateway research and technology park.

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, Fletcher kept a diary so you can get a real insight into a typical week in the life of an Apprentice Developer.

Fletcher Hurn, Apprentice

Fletcher Hurn


Monday morning started with our usual stand up meeting where the whole games team discusses what we did in the previous week and what we’re looking to do next.

These meetings are always useful as I get a sense of direction for the week ahead.

I spent the rest of the morning looking at a bug in the game `Centurion` which was currently being submitted to be certified for release. In our games we can force the outcome of the game during testing to make sure things are working correctly. After some investigation, we resolved the issue.

After lunch, I played an upcoming game called `Advance` that is in development to see if any issues arose and to provide feedback on how the game plays. I also looked at the strategy for this game. Our games have a small element of user choice – this means that we have to make sure we know what the best strategy is so that we can identify the maximum a player could win. After some trial and error with testing we came up with a strategy that we thought was best and the game will now be developed with this in mind.Bottles game


I started my day by looking into another bug with the `Centurion` game we were certifying. Luckily, this was just a simple fix where some code had not been deployed onto the testing environment. After this I spent the rest of the day learning our front-end framework and working on a simple bottle toss game that I had started to create.


Today I spent the morning applying the finishing touches to the bottle toss game by adding sounds and some more animations. Once this was complete, I decided to undertake some university work; catching up on a lecture I had missed using Moodle and then finishing my lab work for the week.

I also completed the upcoming assignment for that module. Feeling very productive, I then picked up a previous project – working on the back-end/server-side of an upcoming game we are hoping to release in Q3 of this year. This was done in Java and looked at the logic of the game.


Thursday was a great day! There was a company-wide tournament on the upcoming game `Centurion` we were about to release which meant that the game was played by everyone in the company in both the London and Colchester offices.  After this, I continued working on the same project I picked up yesterday – with now most of the game logic written, it was time to begin running it and testing it to make sure it was working as expected.

FridaySlingo game

On my last day of the week, I finished off the project I was working on yesterday and added the finishing touches to it, including fixing any obvious bugs I had found (even though it will go through more rigorous testing later in the development cycle). After this I moved on to fixing some issues with some of the servers we have on-site at our office. We use these to run some of the bigger tasks we need to complete before releasing a game where we need lots of cores.

I spent the rest of the day working on optimising the `Advance` game we were looking to run on these servers as it was taking longer than usual. This involved making small changes and then timing the average amount of time each run of the game was taking.

Before the end of the day, we were able to take about 70% off this time. A fantastic result to end a busy week.

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3 February 2020

What do you think? We want to know!

Filed under: News — Laura Mathias @ 10.55 am

As three major student surveys are going live today (Monday 3 February), Professor Madeline Eacott, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, sets out seven takeaway facts about the surveys, why they matter, and why you should complete yours…

Here at Essex we believe in putting student success at the heart of everything we do.

This year, the NSS survey of final year undergraduates – plus the UKES survey for our first and second year undergraduates, and the PTES survey for our postgraduate taught Masters students surveys – give the University the opportunity to get direct, anonymous feedback from you about how we’re doing– and of course, this gives us an opportunity to improve.

So why bother completing your survey?

Please take a few minutes to read these key facts, as we strive to ensure all Essex students receive an excellent and transformational education.

Professor Madeline Eacott

Professor Madeline Eacott

Professor Madeline Eacott, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education

Seven student satisfaction survey takeaways:

1. On Monday 3 February the 2020 NSS, UKES and PTES student surveys will launch.

All three run until Thursday 30 April, but we’d suggest you fill yours in as soon as you’re asked, so you don’t get more email reminders from Ipsos Mori! You’ll be invited by email to complete the survey that’s right for you, complete with a dedicated link to the survey website. If you get stuck, ask your departmental office or email for help.

2. We really value hearing from you. Essex response rates are usually good: last year we reached a 76.8 per cent. Can we do better this year? We think so!

Plus, for every survey completed £1 will be donated to local charities chosen by SU members in Colchester, Southend and Loughton – and those pounds really add up. Last year we raised more than £3,000 for local good causes – let’s beat this sum in 2020!

3. The results of these surveys are hugely important. At Essex, we really value your voice.

Your responses give us an opportunity to get valuable anonymous feedback, so we have the opportunity to listen, and respond, to do things better.

4. Once the results are in, this is what happens next. We make improvements, based on what you’ve told us.

Each department considers comments about their courses and will put quick and longer term plans in place based on your ideas and feedback. We also analyse results at university level to see where broader issues come to light, such as about library or IT services.

5. The results also become publicly available to help new students choose which university to study.

NSS results are made public at Discover Uni to help prospective students decide where to study. UKES results are used to help us understand other experiences of undergraduate students who aren’t eligible for the NSS and make improvements to your university experience whilst you are still studying with us. Meanwhile the PTES survey helps us gain insight from our PGT community, again to improve not only your experience but the experience of those that will follow you.

6. When it comes to making meaningful improvements, students are at the heart of the process.

Your feedback, plus continually working with the SU, helps us understand how we can use survey data to improve student satisfaction. For example, departments now hold student focus groups to understand how they can better support their students’ learning. One result from this has been the launch of gathering in-module feedback from you, to ensure that modules are going well.

7. The kinds of questions you’re asked vary depending on the survey you complete.

But, whatever the survey, NSS, UKES and PTES questions are designed to help universities understand more about your academic and wider living and learning experience as an undergraduate or postgraduate taught student – what is working well for you and what could be improved? We really do value the feedback and insight – not only to improve the student experience for current students, but those of the future too.

Find out more about the:

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