Welcome to a brief review of the 'In Conversation With...'event for Coventry University London
Students at Coventry University London put forward a range of questions to a panel of Academics and Professional Staff, we have highlighted some of the key conversation topics below as a preview. Below you can find a full transcript and recording of the event.
The panel consisted of:
Hany Wells (Associate Dean - Student Experience and Quality Assurance),
Estera Onoakpovike (Head of Student Engagement)
Alid Kambwili (Head of Department for Accounting, Finance & Economics),
John Watkins (Head of Department for Management & HR).
Questions were posed to the panel by your Welfare and Inclusion Officer, Hani Azeemah Azni.
Why did it take such a long time to enrol this year?For many weeks lots of us have waited to get the necessary permissions in order to study on campus. How will you fix what we missed from not just the classroom but the wider experiences too?
Firstly, we have tried to innovate within the enrolment process. That innovation includes allowing students who have just started the enrolment process to have access to their course and module materials. If you have started the enrolment process you have access to Aula and course timetable for the online sessions, enabling students to start their studies, even before the enrolment process was complete. Something we have learnt a lot this semester, is signposting and the communication of how to access things could be even better. This is something we are going to work really hard on for future cohorts, also recognising that students studying in a new way, need a bit more support.
The other part with enrolment is that it’s a very individual process, that requires a lot of processes and documentation, transfer of student fees. From student to student, the time it takes for different parts to come together is difficult to generalise, so it's difficult to say why every student had a certain experience. What we can say is we have a great team here on campus who are keeping on top of what’s going on, and it's about promoting to the students who are enrolling to keep in contact with our enrolment team if they are unsure what to do next.
There are things outside everyone’s control, such as international transfers, which we know the University and the student has no influence over. We really want to make sure that access into Aula and the online timetable continues to be there and it’s as easy as possible to use, speeding up the process of studying if we can’t speed up the process of entry into the UK. We are trying to be the best in that process, and we feel we have learnt a lot from this semester, from feedback from students, so please keep talking to us.
Our job as academics is to make sure that a good level of academic support is available. We do have a late arrival support structure, again very much in place here at Coventry University London. This is for late arrivals to have a 1-1 with their module leaders, they will have a study plan on how to catch up, including what material and subjects you need to cover. If you arrive late, our suggestion is work with the team because the support is there. It’s important that our students proactively engage in this.
Will Departments Be Organising Guest Speakers Or Educational Trips To Support Students’ Learning?
To answer that question, lets look at what the University try to do which is create a ‘learning journey’. Part of that journey is guest speakers and educational trips. We plan the curriculum to involves this, obviously during COVID we had restrictions; we are still trying to learn the new way of doing things. Now things are opening up we will bring guest speakers on campus, we will use guest speakers from not only the corporate world but also alumni, who will talk to fellow students about their experience in the industry. Each department is very active, such as Fashion and Business students, we are also trying a lot of things. Lots of academic teams are organising guest speakers but the turnout from students is sometimes very disappointing. We are still trying to work out how best to organise this for the students. The key point is this is a core part of what we need to do and we will continue doing this.
It’s a huge part of the curriculum design and structure. We invite high profile speakers and they travel far and wide, and occasionally we have only 5 students attending. Which is challenging. With going online, the attendance has gone up. We are getting more and more engagement. This has been a positive change and has been well received by students.
We are also able to connect with our partner institutions around the world. We have had a series of guest lectures in conjunction with INTI college in Malaysia, so we have had students in London, online and Malaysia all attending a Q&A with wonderful guest speakers. So I think it helps us realise, we are a connected global university. We can see what other students are thinking and studying. I really hope we can do more of this over the coming years.
A lot of these sessions have been recorded again to support and open up opportunities for late enrollers.
What’s one thing you wish more students were aware of?
Hany: The importance of attendance and engagement. The more you put in, the more effort, the result will follow. This engagement is crucial, hence we are starting the countdown in January to get the message out loud and clear that ‘engagement is crucial’.
John: To answer the question slightly differently, I wish students were aware of the support we have given staff during the pandemic. We talk lots about supporting students to be successful but it’s also about the support to staff. If we look at any famous sports star, they have a great coach and support network around them. We need to do more for students’ awareness of how hard we worked to support our staff, which enables students to be successful in their studies. Over the last 18 months, we have had the highest student satisfaction scores, highest national student survey scores, because of the amount of support staff were given to support students. There is a lot that went on behind the scenes during lockdown, that has continued. We did mediation classes, yoga, we created community building exercises and kept developing our academic teams to work in a professional environment. Its fantastic to hear that this has really helped.
Estera: The two things for me, the London Student Portal. Knowing where to find it and how it's different to the Coventry Student Portal, we have a wealth of information on there. We call it ‘the gateway to everything’! Everything you can think of is on there, from information about Aula, CUSU and the University support systems. It’s a way for students to find out what’s hot in London and what’s hot at Coventry University London. The other thing is that it’s ok for students to speak up and ask questions, for them to let us know when something is wrong. That’s what we are here for.
Alid: I want students to be aware, what ever we do is for them. Everything we do is made to enhance the ‘learning journey’ and lives of our students. Your staff members know each and every student, we can engage with each person. Talk to us, we know you are aware of what we offer, but you must engage with us.
We would like to thank everyone for the questions they submitted and taking the time to engage with the first Coventry University London In Conversation With. Please find a full transcript here and the recording below.