27 February 2015

Essex commended for focus on student learning

Student using writable glass to outline his ideas

Creative learning opportunities improve the student experience

A strong focus on improving all areas of the student learning experience has won the University of Essex a commendation from the higher education watchdog, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).

The QAA’s Higher Education Review of the University, which will be published today, covered every aspect of Essex’s provision, and confirms that the University has met all expectations. It means Essex can display the QAA quality mark, confirming to students that it meets national requirements for standards and quality.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), Professor Aletta Norval said: “This report reconfirms our commitment to excellence in providing our students with high-quality learning, supported by strong extra-curricular opportunities. Our focus has been to place students at the heart of everything we do, and it is really pleasing that students have highlighted their close collaborative relationship with us.”

The QAA review drew attention to peer mentoring, the personal tutor system and the development of study skills, as well as the academic staff development programme, as examples of the University’s deliberate approach to improving students’ learning opportunities.

The University’s approach to developing and implementing its Education Strategy won praise, particularly the deliberate steps taken to engage and consult students. Students were confident that the University takes their voice seriously. The review highlighted many ways the University ensures it responds to the student voice, with strong student representation on committees and working groups, and working with the Students’ Union to strengthen the recruitment and training of course representatives.

President of the Students’ Union at Essex, Chantel Le Carpentier, said: “This is a fantastic result and proves that Essex does listen to students. The Students’ Union has been working closely with the University to strengthen opportunities and meet student needs, and the SU itself is committed to being the most student-centred organisation."

The QAA also singled out the University’s high quality research environment and the development opportunities offered to postgraduate research students, who spoke very positively about Essex’s research culture. This included the Proficio professional development scheme for doctoral students, postgraduate journals, and opportunities to present research papers at seminars and conferences.

Essex’s commitment to providing students with opportunities to improve their employment skills and prospects was also identified as good practice. This included praise for the University’s comprehensive study abroad arrangements.

The review highlighted the University’s strides to embed career development learning in the curriculum, and its dedicated posts in each faculty to promote work experience. Initiatives including the award-winning Frontrunners scheme which employs more than 300 students within the University, the growth of paid internships to some 250 per year, and mentoring and coaching programmes were highlighted.

Levent Yildizgoren, Managing Director of Chelmsford-based TTC wetranslate, said: “The University of Essex works with our company making sure that our company's requirements and students' skills are matched so that all parties get the best possible outcome. This process is handled professionally and promptly.”

Luke Wheeler, Senior Lead Developer, Tapsley Ltd, said: “We work closely with the University and their School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering in particular.

“We have seen some impressive projects being produced over the last few years at the School’s annual project open day. These projects, along with the students’ ability to present themselves, has led to us recruiting several of them as developers after they graduated. All of these graduates have progressed well and been a big part of developing our mobile application ‘Tapsley’.”

In 2014, Essex students voted the University the sixth best in the UK for student satisfaction, and Essex was ranked in the top 20 in the UK for research excellence.
 

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