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The Annual Student Priorities for Education report is a comprehensive overview of student feedback throughout the year.  It aims to provide a snapshot of the issues facing UCL students and recommended practises for staff across UCL. It looked at 6 main areas: 

  • Teaching and delivery 
  • Assessment and feedback 
  • Student support 
  • Department and Learning community 
  • Organisation and Management 
  • Facilities 

The report drew on 302 sets of Student Staff Consultative Committee (SSCC) minutes and wider sector research and literature to understand both where we are and where we should aim to go.  

Importantly, this report would not have been possible without the work of all of the student representatives who sit on the SSCC meetings. Thank you for your hard work over the last year.

What we learnt about education at UCL 

In comparison to recent years, this year has unfortunately seen a rise in negative sentiment within the SSCC minutes. Specifically, the SSCC minutes revealed mixed feedback within each theme.  

Teaching and Learning:  

Teaching and learning are undoubtedly central to a student’s university life.  

Based on the SSCC minutes, when done right, students valued the high quality and engaging teaching that staff provided. They also appreciated the comprehensive, timely and tailored learning resources that they received, as well as the return to face-to-face teaching.  

However, we also found that there was increased dissatisfaction with the pace of delivery (passive and fast paced), as well as the lack of consistency, accessibility and timing of learning resources provided alongside the course. Other factors influencing dissatisfaction included the cost-of-living crisis and industrial action.  

Assessment and Feedback 

Positively, students felt confident about assessments when sufficient resources and timely, comprehensive feedback was provided before the assessment, when assessment formats were interesting and varied, and when flexibility was provided for deadlines. 

However, students have become increasingly dissatisfied with the quality and quantity of practise papers and feedback provided and were particularly concerned about assessment deadlines being bunched together, with assessments having shorter completion timeframes in unfamiliar formats (i.e., not online). – also concerned about weighting of assessments 

Student Support 

Although more students have met with their personal tutors than in previous years, the tutoring system unfortunately seems to be ‘luck based’. Whilst students that had proactive tutors felt valued, supported, and empowered, others who were unaware or not assigned a personal tutor were left feeling alone, confused and frustrated.

Department and Learning Community 

Encouragingly, students were also happy with the increase in departmental social events and satisfied when they had the opportunity to provide feedback on their experiences. 

However, it seems that students often struggle to create community among themselves, which may not be helped by the lack of communal and study spaces available to students at UCL. Moreover, there is frustration with the lack of follow-through from feedback, possibly leading to limited engagement among the wider student population. 

Organisation and Management 

Whilst students valued consistent, prompt, clear and friendly communication from their departments, this was often not the case; students reported that many departments provide confusing, inconsistent, slow, and sometimes no communication at all on their courses. This often led to the impression of programmes being poorly organised. Students found this particularly frustrating in relation to class timetabling, with many timetable clashes and last-minute changes to class times and locations.  

Facilities 

As with learning resources, when the UCL IT platform, including Lecture Capture and Moodle, were used correctly, this made learning more accessible to students, leading to higher satisfaction with their courses. 

However, many teaching rooms do not have the audio-visual equipment needed to upload recordings of lectures and some staff do not make their recordings available on Lecturecast (mainly due to lack of training). Combined, these issues make learning less accessible for students, especially those with special needs or caring responsibilities.  

What we recommend: 

Learning Resources:  

  • Remind staff of the technical support and training guides available and offer refresher training where necessary, to ensure that they can effectively utilise Lecturecast and resolve technical issues promptly.  
  • Remind staff of the support, guidance, and resources available to them for providing effective learning resources to ensure students receive the resources necessary.  
  • Steps should also be taken to monitor whether this guidance is being effectively implemented. 

Assessment and Feedback:  

  • Staff should use the CHART tool across UCL and departments should be asked to consider timings of assessments when using the tool.  
  • Departments should offer more access to past or model examples of assessments and the opportunity to practise assessments where appropriate.  
  • Departments should ensure that assessment criteria are aligned to the quality assurance agency (QAA) guidelines when re-designing and reviewing learning outcomes for modules and should also discuss these criteria with students in the contextualised manner. This will support students to navigate new assessment styles with confidence by providing more clarity on assessment formats. 

Department and Learning Community:  

  • Departments should assess their feedback loops to ensure that, when necessary, the student voice is empowered to bring about tangible change.  
  • UCL should work with the student union and study body to ensure that existing departmental societies are well-resourced and supported and that new departmental societies can be built where they do not yet exist.  
  • The student union should run an informational campaign aimed at educating all students about the faculty and departmental representative system, and the value that it holds in amplifying the student voice. 

Communication:  

  • UCL should address the widespread dissatisfaction with slow communication by implementing strategies to enhance the speed and clarity of communication. This would include ensuring emails and enquiries from students are promptly answered and would establish clear channels of communication between faculty, personal tutors and students.  
  • UCL should continue communicating the value of Lecture cast in supporting learning to staff across UCL.  
  • UCL should continue advocating for closer communication between programme and module leaders to enable consistent communications to students in their individual cohort. 

Interested in joining your department or faculty's SSCC next year? Find out more here.