“As our course is based in the Old Street campus (Institute of Ophthalmology), we didn’t feel part of the whole UCL community, so I tried to make that heard and find ways that can improve this experience for future students. It was proposed to have some lunch-hour lectures based on our campus with several topics (science or career-oriented) which all MSc students at the IoO could attend. This would also help to network with the other students and create bonds. After that, it was decided that we will have summer lunches during July.”
– Ophthalmology Rep
“In general, I received feedback that the Division could be more social for PhD students, so in addition to the buddy system I also organised several pizza night social events for PhD students after work.”
– Brain Sciences Rep
“One of the first things I did was create the BSP Newsletter. Before, this was a weekly email sent by the previous reps, but I wanted to give it more formality and structure. I came out with a simple Newsletter that has a different section for the most relevant events, news and announcements that need to be communicated to the PhD community.”
– Bartlett School of Planning Rep
“I have petitioned for new office chairs and other physical changes around our department that have improved the workspaces for PhD students tremendously. In addition, I have introduced regular social events that were very well received and am in the process of setting up inter-departmental events in collaboration with other reps across the faculty”
– Engineering Rep
“I together with other SARS planned community-building events for the MA Education Programme. We held outdoor "game day" in Russell Square Park on every Sunday to build connections with each classmates. We talked to other peers and everyone would like to have closer connection with others but they were just afraid to reach out and went forward. After getting knowledge about this, I and other academic reps decided to build the rapport by organising extra-curricular games and activities, and invited lecturers and staff to join in.”
– IOE Rep
“One of the changes in which I personally took part was addressing feelings of isolation of students studying a postgraduate degree or PHD. I participated in establishing a psychology society with staff and other student rep volunteers which would be open to undergraduate, postgraduate and PHD students studying psychology related subjects. Students would be able to socialize by coming to monthly sessions. This society will be funded by the Students' Union. Therefore, thanks to working as a team, a progress was made and students may sign up as of September onwards.”
– IOE Rep
“During the holidays I compiled a 14-page document listing volunteering opportunities specifically tailored to Linguistics students, so as to advise them on extracurricular involvement to gain relevant work experience related to our degree.”
– Linguistics Rep
“Students also highlighted the limited socialising between the diverse range of courses in the medical sciences. To remedy this, the other faculty reps and I organised an after party after the Dean's Research Prize event in February. This was attended by over 100 students and faculty from the medical sciences and received very positive feedback.”
– Medical School Rep
“I proposed the idea of reducing or removing disposable cups at socials to encourage students and staff to bring their own mugs, thereby reducing waste, as a tried and tested method used in industry. This was implemented almost immediately by the department.”
– Geography Rep
“I worked with the Director and Head of Teaching Committee of the Institute of Archaeology to change the membership structure of the Society of Archaeology Students, which is our body of students in which the reps represent. Originally, it was technically only those who paid membership who were part of the society and thus got representation. However over the years, fewer and fewer people would pay to become members, so we were only technically representing about a fifth of each incoming year group. Therefore, we eliminated the membership fee entirely and now all students are automatically part of the society, in order to get full representation.”
– Archaeology Rep
"For me, one of the core challenges was building a sense of community amongst students, seeing as ISPS is a new degree lacking in traditions and previous students for guidance. In order to change this, the other representatives and I organized a variety of social events. At the beginning of the year, we organized a trip to Winter Wonderland, and had an amazing time. Later on, we worked on organizing a chill event at the IOE bar following one of our core courses. Furthermore, we planned on taking a trip to Sky Garden as well as hosting a ball - although both were cancelled as a result of coronavirus. I truly believe that EISPS has become a lot closer as a result of the above mentioned shared experiences. Many older EISPS students have commented that our year is incredibly close-knit, and that they admire our dynamic. Over the course of the next year, I hope to continue organizing academic and social events for course members, hopefully even involving incoming first year students.”
– ISPS Rep
"I was able to make a connection between the students rep and the master's students. We organized social meetings one per term were students were able to chat and tell us in general their issues and doubts."
– Built Environment Rep
"There was a lack of social events, so I communicated with the admin about venue and policies, while sending surveys to collect responses from the student body. The result is a social event that everybody enjoyed."
– Global Proserity Rep
"I proposed introducing Faculty/course clothing such as, hoodies or T-shirts. This was accepted at an SSCC meeting and I have been able to ask my course mates about clothing design."
– Division of Surgery and Interventional Science Rep
"As postgraduate research reps in the Institute of Neurology we put together an away day for the PhD students in the institute to allow for more interaction between them. Unfortunately, we had to cancel it due to Covid-19."
– Neurology Rep
"Students wanted an improved sense of community, we took this to the SSCC with some initial ideas. The HoD secured a small pot of funding for events. I organised a survey to find out the sorts of events people were keen for and the time of day that suited. We began working on a PhDTea idea before COVID-19 but this has been translated online and is a succes with students interacting more."
– Geography Rep
"Communicating with the other reps was successful since we were trying to collaborate on projects that our peers were interested in (i.e. course jumper)."
– Psychology and Language Sciences Rep
"Some Students' Oyster cards' applications were rejected by Transport for London due to some miscommunication. I raised the concerned with the staff and admin team in my department and have them contacted TfL to rectify the errors. Students were issued Student Oyster cards."
– Initial Teacher Education Rep
"Creating a sense of community in my course cohort was really successful, especially early in Term 1 by organising group chats/picnics/walks around campus etc. Other successes were being able to check-in on my cohort throughout the year and ensure everyone was going ok and felt confident in their studies/experiences with practical things but also being a point of contact when students were struggling, and being able to redirect them to further support networks at UCL when necessary, and being able to discuss student issues with the staff at SSCC (for example, debating the necessity of paper essay submissions, discrepancies in the speed/quality of marking assessments, concerns and preparation for the UCU strike)."
– Archaeology Rep
"I contributed to manage the budget allocated for the PhD research community and organised social events, such as Christmas party. Also, I circulated emails among the community for sharing information, for example, the results of a SSCC meeting, the community-related events, and budget status. In addition, after the COVID-19 breakout, I discussed the means to support the students with other reps and staffs. For example, alternatives to social events and additional financial supports for working from home."
– Built Environment Rep
"I care about peers' learning experience in IOE, so I asked about their feedback on programmes that they are studying. There were complaints from many students that teaching hours and communication between classmates are very limited, no sense of belonging, and they want more support and learning opportunities relevant to the education field. So, I proposed a UCL changemakers project (Learner's Community) to support peer learning, communication and connection through regular student-led sessions and events. It was approved in early March, and Covid-19 started to become serious in London. I was so sad and worried that this project would die as we are not able to have gatherings and face-to-face events. With big support from ioe student service staff, I launched this project with online sessions. We had weekly catch up meetings to discuss event ideas, possible facilitators, publicity and budget. We did surveys to decide the name of the project, collect student ideas for future events and call on students who want to be part of the project. Now, I appreciate it so much that we have 2 more student members, and three staff support us all the time. So far, we have delivered a number of events for different topics. For example, we invited alumni and PhD students to deliver career sessions about applying for PhD and routes into teaching. Peers found it useful for their career development and they asked many questions during the session. We had a workshop on making music with Scratch, colleagues found it interesting to make their own music with online coding software. We organized research and data analysis sessions to support students’ dissertation which was very popular. We also have event series named Talk out and connect every Tuesday. It’s a caring space where peers can share difficulties and concerns, get advice and support, celebrate progress and achievements, and it is only reserved to students. We are also planning other events like art classes, educational talks. I’m going to graduate from UCL this September, but I’m sure that with support from our responsible staff and contributions of new members, this Project will continue to benefit students, whether as a speaker/facilitator, organizer, or participant. I'm expecting that this project (Learner’s Community) would be an encouraging platform for peers to communicate and share, inspire and connect, thus creating a happy memory of colleagues learning together, supporting each other and becoming friends, having a strong sense of belonging in our IOE community."
– Learning and Leadership Rep
"I set up a virtual online space where students could meet and have a chat during lock-down. One student who didn't attend those meetings texted back and said that they felt good the meetings were there, even though they could not make time to attend them, it was good for them to know they had support should they wish to access them."
– Pharmacy Rep
"As I were also president of the departmental society, being an academic rep helped me understand the areas which required improvements. One major issue that I worked on this year is to help students feel connected to the department. With help form staff and our departmental society, I have organised socials and academic talks to help bridge the gap between staff and students and help student understand about what is going on in the department. I have also sent newsletter updates to inform students about what is going on. All in all, there was an improvement in student participation of events and students were able to connect with staff and the department. If the term was affected by strike and pandemic causing some of the events to be cancelled, I am sure the improvement could have been larger."
– Linguistics Rep
"Issue: Social cohesion was low, as language courses are a mixture of multiple courses and people didn't know each other. There wasn't any clear space for communication, group learning, or resources.
Course of action: Created a group chat, regularly communicated with students, held study group sessions and online feedback groups for work, created a facebook page for storing learning resources, and created a good academic relationship over the course of a few months.
Outcome: Lessons were able to go a lot more smoothly, less awkward and tension between teachers and students, easier to learn a language that relies a lot on communication."
– CLIE Rep
"Campaigned for funding for student social events, we were awarded two funded events that I organised for students. The MSc Clinical Trials are based all over London and can feel quite isolated for students, therefore this was an important step for our international and local students to feel welcome and make friends on the course."
- Clinical Trials and Methodology Rep
"Prior to the outbreak, we, as student reps, were quite successful in organising events at divisional level. These included pub quizes, various social events, symposium, etc. We got good feedback from students asking us to organize more similar events which encouraged us to move things forward in the same direction."
- Biosciences Rep
"invited the course mates for many online games and activities to create a sense of community and conviviality between us"
- School of Planning Rep
"Formed an informal study group on TEAMS, where students of my program could come together weekly and discuss study related queries regarding their modules’
- Population Health Sciences Rep
"Held biweekly coffee afternoons/mornings and providing a platform for PhD students to chat and raise issues"
- Geography rep
"I created a social society and organised various extra-curricular activities both online and offline, such as ice-breaking games, chat rooms, etc"
- Archaeology rep
"I organised the creation of a departmental hoodie."
- Science and Technology Studies Rep
"I set up a common group that is open to all the students from the department, which is being actively used for sharing of information and discussion."
- Medical Sciences and Engineering Rep
"I managed to use the Instagram account as a means to share the work of the course and see what is going on in other studios, to create a sense of landscape architecture students in-school feeling. (were we in the Bartlett we would see and discuss other people's work). All my fellow students were very excited about this, especially after a winter of extreme isolation."
- MLA Rep
"After the term finished, informal meetings were set up for people in London to meet. This gave us the chance to meet and talk outside the university topic. I am still hoping the trip we have organised in June to bring us closer together."
- CEGE Rep
"We organised several virtual social events, including online book clubs with authors such as Robert Plomin, virtual games we made ourselves, virtual escape rooms etc. The department provided financial support."
- Behaviour Change Rep
"I helped found the departmental society and affiliate it with the Union."
- Science and Technology Studies Rep
"Students responded that they felt isolated, I organized meetings for first year students and division-wide weekly coffee hours to help with this."
- Biosciences Rep
"As a course rep it was really important to students to feel connected in these times of isolation. My fellow reps and I were successful in organising online events that brought everybody on the course closer together, such as a Bookclub or online escape rooms. "
- Behaviour Change Rep
"Making a "getting to know you" session and shared slides has been successful for me. This degree attracts people from different backgrounds and it was important, especially since we couldn't meet in person, to have a place where people write about themselves and present themselves which is accessible to all at all times."
- Biochemical Engineering Rep
"This year, one project I was responsible for organising department merchandise orders. This was a fun initiative which enabled more community spirit within the EISPS department, in spite of the pandemic. We were able to get out all of merch throughout term three."
- EISPS Rep
"There was frustration around not being able to meet peers during this course due to Covid restrictions. We generated a google form to identify who wanted to meet up mid-week and in the evening, and then used this to organise an outdoor meet for the 6 individuals who were available to meet during the day and a further meet once restrictions lift. This supported students to feel that they could have an opportunity to connect. Although this does not apply to all students, we also initiated making whatsapp groups and invited others to join it in one of our core modules. This became a very supportive network for students and a safe place to ask questions or share material. I would encourage new Reps to do the same. Other students then created Whapsapp groups for other Modules as they started each term."
- Psychology and Human Development Rep
"Hosted "PhD coffee morning" each week for Geography department, and provided my peers a with platform to communicate online."
- Geography Rep
"This year, having had not a single face-to-face class, it was important to us to still create a bond in our cohort. We created a WhatsApp group in which we talk to each other to this day, at least once a week. And also organised Zoom socials in which we tried to get to know each other at least a bit."
- SELCS Rep
"As I haven’t met most of my course mates I had to do my best to find the way how to speak to them so that they don’t feel shy or embarrassed to speak out about their problems. I tried to support them if they had bad days or things didn’t go smoothly. To make things nicer, I asked about their birthdays at the beginning of our course and sent every student a note and wishes on their birthdays. ( and other students sent their wishes too). This helped us feel more bonded with each other."
- Cancer Institute Rep
"To bring students and staff closer and to enrich our social life, I, together with eight other students and reps in our faculty, organised a CenTras Spring Festival Online Party on 5 February. We encouraged students from different places of China to share the customs in their hometowns, watched a dubbed short sketch together, and had an interesting quiz. Everyone enjoyed that party very much. The photos of this party were even included in the CenTras March Newsletter to circulate among offer holders."
- SELCS Rep
"This year I have pushed to more closely integrate our departmental society into induction and departmental events. I initially breached this in an SSCC before taking it to the departmental tutor. We were able to have a useful discussion and the society has now gained responsibility for more of induction next year. This should allow more effective work between students and staff, as well as build a broader sense of community."
- History Rep
"The Graduate Diploma cohort can be quite varied, with people working full-time jobs, juggling various commitments and often being based outside of London. It was difficult to bring the group together, but I found that organising regular online informal coffee catch ups allowed various people to drop in in-between their commitments and feel part of a community."
- Archaeology Rep
"Our cohort struggled to feel connected so we established a WhatsApp group chat to discuss coursework, classes and jobs we're applying to. Then we started a separate chat for memes, news articles and more lighthearted things. We've had a lot of positive feedback from the cohort that these groups have really helped to improve their morale and helped them connect to the student experience."
- Information Studies Rep
"My biggest success was an Online Vodka Tasting & Conference. We all know that it is a tradition at SSEES to organise a Vodka Tasting event, and that our students love it. However, the pandemic situation required us to re-invent this event. It required a lot of creativity and brainstorming (...) I had not only to find professional speakers, but also organise the delivery of Vodka to our participants. Not only did it require to make a lot of phone calls and calculations, but also to make sure that the documentation is right and financing is provided"
- SSEES Rep
"During this Covid time, it was hard to break the ice through online communicating. In the beginning, we rarely heard any issues that students raised. In order to maintain open and transparent communication with fellow students, the Lead Department Reps in the faculty and I decided to set up weekly Zoom drop-in sessions which fellow students can attend if they wish. This was a place for informal laid-back discussion for students only, they could stay for as long or as short as they want. They could drop in at any point to raise any questions, issues or concerns that they may have with your university life and education. Many people came to the sessions and we built a warm place that allowed people to communicate. Through these sessions, we better understood students concerns and highlighted these at the SSCC (Staff Student Consultative Committee) meetings where appropriate."
- Statistical Science Rep
"Due to the online learning context, the student community in Earth Sciences felt disconnected. Having seen the success of online groups in Natural Sciences and Chemistry, I worked with other reps in order to set up a departmental Discord server, enabling students to have a platform on which they could chat in between lectures and share opportunities and event details. Following its creation, as term 2 was ending, students were able to help each other through technical difficulties for a particular module, and the departmental society was able to reach students from 1st year through postgrad with their election / AGM information."
- Earth Sciences Rep
"Online events were organised with the departmental social committee to foster more of a sense of belonging to the department after many students reported feeling disconnected from the department."
- Security and Crime Science Rep
"Organising student meetups, online or in person throughout the pandemic has provided students a place to meet fellow students and raise any issues in a relaxed environments. I have found people are more likely to discuss issues in an environment like this, rather than formally over email etc."
- GOS ICH Rep
"During my year as a student representative,together with the other student representatives of my course, I created a social society and organised various extra-curricular activities both online and offline, such as ice-breaking games, chat rooms, etc. Due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 epidemic, many students were not able to come to London in person, and I understand that many students find it difficult to complete assignments so we organised various workshops on Teams to discuss and exchange ideas on assignments in the core lessons. I believe many students were inspired to write during the workshop."
- Archaeology Rep
"I hosted an online zoom pub quiz event in Term 1 to help students in our course socialize and get to know each other, since the COVID-19 pandemic had prevented in person events."
- Earth Sciences Rep
"My biggest success was an Online Vodka Tasting & Conference. We all know that it is a tradition at SSEES to organise a Vodka Tasting event, and that our students love it. However, the pandemic situation required us to re-invent this event. It required a lot of creativity and brainstorming, but we had managed to create a good plan. However, it was just a beggining. I had not only found professional speakers, but also organised the delivery of Vodka to our participants. Not only did it require to make a lot of phone calls and calculations, but also to make sure that the documentation is right and financing is provided."
- SSEES Rep
"As a doctoral course, we started off the year not having met each other or tutors physically, with a lot of screen time for lectures. I was able to foster morale and encourage positive emotional wellbeing by setting up dance Thursdays, song of the week as well as other wellbeing activities during tutor meetings. These all seemed to be well received by the cohort and improved productivity and interactivity."
- Centre for Doctoral Education Rep
"In my time as a rep, we had our success this year in the contact that we managed to make with all of our students despite working from home and feeling isolated. The topic on everyone’s minds when we started the 2020/2021 academic year was isolation, loneliness, lack of peer connection, and the stress of doing a masters from home. In order to tackle these issues we created a departmental collaborative playlist on Spotify, and had weekly happy hours and study sessions on teams, where students (and staff!) could come and share/rant about their experiences and just generally have a chat (and a drink if they fancied). We also made sure that we were in continual contact with our peer groups throughout the year, and that any feedback was taken to the SSCC, or was addressed immediately and directly with course coordinators."