A better student experience and better-qualified graduates

This chapter sets out our proposals for how higher education institutions can create a learning community where engagement of students is encouraged, their feedback valued and complaints resolved transparently and as soon as possible. It also sets out how we will create the conditions to encourage greater collaboration between higher education institutions and employers to ensure that students gain the knowledge and skills they need to embark on rewarding careers.

Download the White Paper.

Our key proposals:

  • We consider the publication of a student charter to be best practice and we will review the extent to which they are adopted and in light of this consider whether they should be made mandatory in the future.
  • We expect all universities to publish summary reports of their student evaluation surveys on their websites by 2013/14. Before this, we will work with HEFCE, National Union of Students (NUS) and others, to agree the information and format that will be most helpful to students.
  • We will introduce a risk-based quality regime that focuses regulatory effort where it will have most impact and gives power to students to hold universities to account. All institutions will continue to be monitored through a single framework but the need for, and frequency of, scheduled institutional reviews will depend on an objective set of criteria and triggers, including student satisfaction, and the recent track record of each institution.
  • We want the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) to help higher education institutions resolve student complaints at the earliest possible stage. We are therefore asking the OIA to consult the sector on ways to promote and deliver early resolution.
  • We have asked Professor Sir Tim Wilson to undertake a review into how we make the UK the best place in the world for university-industry collaboration.   We will continue to support the Graduate Talent Pool in 2011 for another year, helping graduates to identify internship opportunities.
  • We will work with the National Consortium of University Entrepreneurs, the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship and the Quality Assurance Agency to encourage higher education institutions to support students to develop enterprise skills.

We seek your comments on these proposals and the impact that they will have on students and the higher education sector. You can comment via the comment box to the right or by emailing HE.consultation@bis.gsi.gov.uk

11 944 WP Students at Heart

9 Responses to A better student experience and better-qualified graduates

  1. John Wright says:

    Paragraph 4.19 refers to a threshold of AAB, or equivalent. How will this equivalent be determined given the ever-increasing number of qualifications available? Will the UCAS tariff be used, or will there be a separate comparison for,say the international baccalaureate or Pre-U?

  2. Jim Hopkins says:

    The quality of teaching offered to students will depend upon the actual funding provided by the government. The system put in place after the second world war offered students far more contact with individual teachers, and teachers of far better international reputation, than is available today. The claim that all this is being done to empower the students it is impoverishing is nothing but a smoke screen for policies whose ultimate effect is to transfer wealth to those already rich.

  3. The core service of the university experience is embodied in the learning experience of the student, it is the co-creation process. However the student experience goes well beyond learning and embraces service desks ( supplementary services). I am just completing a research study on the student experience from the sender and receiver positions. The key proposal in the white paper are so far off the mark as to “what students needs and wants are”. Where is the discussion on the phenomenon, processes, and outcomes of good service experience? What is the right model of service experience for UK Higher education? Where is the student evidence as to how they see the student experience delivered?

  4. Ginny says:

    Where is the focus on employability skills? Graduates are leaving university without the requisite skills needed for the working world. Enterprise and entrepreneurship are really great, and a lot can be learned but it is not for everyone. How is the new system going to ensure that all university graduates with the employability skills needed to work in a professional environment? Where do they learn workplace etiquette and where are they instilled with the attitude that you need to work hard?

  5. Martha Ortegon says:

    I suggest to include work experience in a project that feeds the government plans as requeriment to graduate and as alternative of a thesis to get the degree. What I know is that the requeriment of a thesis to get the degree has created a well known black market. The universities have blind eyes before the thesis makers as request in exchange of money. Any student, specially international students, can buy a thesis or a essay.
    I am working in a project I have called legalengineering in which students are substantial actors in order for them to get experience and contribute to the growth of the economy

  6. Louise says:

    If universities will be allowed to recruit unlimited numbers of AAB students, what impact will this have on courses for which those grades already represent the minimum required level? The paper specifically mentions Medicine and Dentistry as already being subject to other restrictions, but what is the situation regarding Veterinary Medicine? Will universities offering this course be allowed to offer more of their places to UK students, now that they will not be penalized for going over the “quota”? This is a massively oversubscribed course and my daughter (AAAA, three sciences and maths) missed out on a place this year and it would be good to think that, when she reapplies for next year, some of the places that could previously only be offered to overseas students would now be available to those in the UK.

  7. 1. Students at the Heart of the System’ acknowledges HEIs’ duty of care to students, and that good pastoral care can encourage student retention and completion. We share the department’s calls for welfare to be made a priority and partnership working with students unions. The tools developed by AMOSSHE in the Value and Impact Project can support HEIs in assessing the value and impact of such services to ensure that they deliver support that makes a difference to the student experience.

    2. HEIs’ duty of care is also discussed in the context of radicalisation on campus and the responsibility of institutions to safeguard vulnerable young people from these risks. AMOSSHE recognises the importance of the Prevent strategy and that there can be issues with radicalisation on campus, but this must be balanced with religious tolerance and students’ right to freedom of speech and religion. We encourage the Prevent strategy to recognise the contribution of student discussion and freedom in developing global citizens who contribute to our culture, economy and knowledge societies. We will continue to work with government bodies to protect vulnerable students across the spectrum: this relates not only to radicalisation but all aspects of the student experience and welfare.

    3. The focus on enabling the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) to ensure student complaints are handled appropriately is welcomed, and AMOSSHE will respond to the OIA consultation proposed in the White Paper in due course. It would be better too encourage HEIs to develop scenarios where the student experience is placed foremost, and there is no (or little) need for student complaints at all. A culture of excellence in delivering from the outset rather than in ‘managing’ complaints should be encouraged. Nonetheless we recognise that complaints may still occur, particularly in the increased fee era. AMOSSHE will work with colleagues across the sector and in the OIA to ensure that these are handled as efficiently as possible.

    4. AMOSSHE contributed to the national discussions about student charters in 2010/11, and recognises the role that they can play in clearly articulating the mutual expectations between students and HEIs. We welcome the light touch approach to these and that they are ‘good practice’ rather than mandatory; making student charters a requirement, or overly specifying their detail may make them both burdensome and irrelevant for institutions. Student charters must contain readily accessible material and principles that students and staff alike can commit to.

    5. We recognise the introduction of HEAR as good practice, and will continue to discuss this amongst AMOSSHE membership. AMOSSHE members are frequently the lead contact for implementing HEAR at their institution, drawing together several sources of data and explicitly recognising the schemes that they promote in contributing to the wider student experience and achievements.

    6. AMOSSHE advised on and endorsed the NUS good governance work, and are delighted to see this referenced in the White Paper.

  8. Hugh Sullivan says:

    Section 3.27 starts with the phrase: “Higher education is a good thing in itself.”
    As this suggests, higher education has an intrinsic social value. When looking at the student experience, this White Paper completely ignores all other aspects of the learning experience other than ‘to prepare students for a rewarding career’, even though it states that this is only one of the purposes of entering HE.

    In terms of the student experience, there must be an attempt to protect those ‘good’ things about HE and I feel that the best way to this is to focus on the environment within HE institutes, by creating climates for learning.

    Given the numbers of international students and the globalised nature of today’s working world, there must be an emphasis on worldly education that equips students to relate to other cultural perspectives. One way of achieving this is by focusing on creating an educational ”safe space’ for debate, creativity and scholarly endeavour; rather than a production line that churns out ‘well qualified’ graduates.
    What society needs is conscientious, skilled thinkers who have had the opportunity to learn about the world and their chosen discipline in an engaging way, rather than youngsters who have spent three years as a ‘bum on a seat’ in a lecture hall or lab which is the situation UK HE is trending towards.

    A major factor that creates this kind of environment is students’ perceptions of how they are dealt with in HE. Approachable lecturers, trust in the assessment procedures and a feeling of engagement with their learning are all things that students find important and that can generate this climate.

    The chapter makes an excellent case for a strong risk-based quality framework for HE. While this is vital for ensuring standards, it ignores a whole range of proactive and internally driven measures than can be adopted as to achieve quality assurance through quality enhancement.
    Many institutions in the UK have excellent opportunities for staff development and even requirements for teaching qualifications. These should be acknowledged and encouraged, as they are the sorts of practices that create a the good climate for student learning that has been described.

    In summary I would like to see the White Paper acknowledge and commit to preserving the wider socio-cultural values of higher education. In relation to the student experience there must be a commitment to providing a globally relevant education in an environment that is conducive to good student learning through engagement. This kind of engagement can be fostered by the required implementation of quality enhancement procedures that encourage higher education teachers to build climates for learning.