After many months of collaborative work with UCL’s senior team, we have now finalised a multi-million-pound investment to enhance student life at UCL. This investment is a huge endorsement of the impact that sports, arts, societies, volunteering, and events have on the lives of students. The financial backing is recognition of the transformative effect that extra and co-curricular experiences have – helping students to develop skills, build networks, reduce loneliness and isolation, grow in confidence, and enjoy their time at UCL.
This could not have happened without the work of our Sabbatical Officers, student officers, and the student leaders of clubs and societies over recent years. Throughout the consultation process for UCL’s new strategy (you can read that here), students have helped to shape the priorities, putting forward the case for further investment in making student life at UCL truly outstanding. Sabbatical Officers have been meeting regularly with UCL’s senior team to work collaboratively on a strategy which focuses on the long-term development of the UCL student experience. The outcome of this joint work is the Student Life strategy, which our officers presented to UCL Council in December. The strategy was approved, and we can now start work on implementing the priorities.
The Student Life strategy kickstarts the largest ever expansion of co and extra-curricular experiences at UCL, and the largest investment in Students’ Union UCL in our 130-year history. With this investment we’ll be able to significantly expand our model of student engagement, empowering thousands more student leaders to deliver exceptional experiences for their peers. It will raise the bar for student experience in sport, arts, volunteering, departmental engagement, and events, ensuring students can truly make the most out of their time at UCL
“I can't understate how exciting the Student Life strategy is for students at UCL. From prioritising new Students' Union facilities to breaking barriers to increasing participation with artsUCL, this backing will help us radically transform everything students do outside the lecture theatre, giving them experiences that will stay with them long after they've graduated.”Mary, Activities and Engagement Officer, Students’ Union UCL
Running from 2023 to 2028, the Student Life strategy aims to complement and enhance students’ academic work, helping them develop networks and relationships outside their formal educational setting, broaden their horizons, grow in confidence, and equip themselves with new skills.
“The new Student Life strategy is a significant development for not only students, but our whole UCL community. Students are at the heart of UCL, and it is crucial that they are able to thrive and reach their fullest potential in their time here – not only academically, but outside this arena, too. The Student Life strategy launches us into a new era of possibility for students, and I look forward to seeing how they further transform life on campus, and their own lives, too.”Dr Michael Spence AC, UCL President & Provost
The new five-year Student Life Strategy aims to transform six priority areas:
Sport and physical activity
Giving every student access to a sporting offer that meets their needs, whether trying a sport for the first time, making friends in a TeamUCL league sports team, experiencing world-class coaching so they can excel as an athlete, or undertaking sports volunteering in the local community. By the end of the Student Life strategy, we will aim to enable half of all students to engage with sport and physical activity.
Performing and creative arts
Breaking down barriers to participation enabling all students, regardless of background, to develop the creativity, innovation, and confidence which engagement in the arts brings. This leads to a greater sense of belonging and community within UCL and increases opportunities to engage with the wider arts community in London and beyond. By the end of the Student Life strategy, we are aiming for 12,500 students to engage with our performing and creative arts programme.
Inspiring students to take part in rewarding, well-organised community volunteering that makes a difference in the wider world. Helping our students to build bonds – between students and people in other communities, between students and voluntary and community sector organisations, and between students themselves. Boosting students’ wellbeing, and helping them develop new skills and insights into their academic studies. By the end of the Student Life strategy, students will give more than 100,000 hours annually to volunteering across London.
Creating a truly global experience for all students at UCL, harnessing the diversity of our student body, building links across the world, and creating opportunities for international volunteering which ensure every UCL student is internationally aware, culturally inquisitive, and a true global citizen ready to change the world for the better. By the end of the Student Life strategy, up to 10,000 students will be part of a vibrant cultural society.
Building a real sense of belonging and pride amongst each cohort, bridging the gap between the academic and ‘extra-curricular’ sphere. Thousands more students will benefit from tailored support, training and resources, creating opportunities to develop new partnerships and innovative activities designed to build inclusive, vibrant communities at a departmental level. By the end of the Student Life strategy, we are aiming for 10,000+ students to be part of a departmental society.
Vibrant events in the heart of London
Harnessing our collective skills to deliver a wide range of events that create both a vibrant campus and a truly exceptional student experience, with high-quality events running every week during term time. From the extensive Welcome programme to the Winter Arts Festival, and the end-of-year celebration events that take over campus, students will be able to actively shape and enjoy the most vibrant campus in London. By the end of the Student Life strategy, half of all students will have taken part in a major on-campus event.
We are working on the operational plans to deliver the ambitious aims of the Student Life strategy now, with the first enhanced opportunities launching in autumn 2023. Ahead of this exciting change, students can still get involved in the 360 different sports clubs and societies on offer, hundreds of events running each month, performances in the Bloomsbury Theatre, or find a rewarding community volunteering opportunity at one of hundreds of local London charities.