You asked, UCA responded
In the 2017/18 Student Engagement Workshops, the University wanted to hear what you had to say on the topic ‘Value for Money’.
Here are your questions, and their answers.
|Students at UCA said this….||The University responded with this…|
|1. When students start their course, there is a lack of awareness of what additional costs are involved. This makes financial planning very difficult.||Additional course costs are communicated to all UCA students as part of the online welcome guide coordinated by our Marketing department (In FE, these details are also given out at the interview stage). This information can also be found under the individual Course Information on the UCA website link below:
A course cost document is also included within the offer e-mail sent to Applicants. This confirms the expected cost of equipment needed, equipment recommended and field trips/visits. These costs will vary according to the nature of the student's project work and their individual choices.
Financial planning advice is provided through the Library and Student Services Gateway at this link:
|2. Some courses do provide a list of materials and equipment that students are expected to purchase in advance of starting the course. However in some instances this information is out-of-date which has resulted in students buying expensive equipment and materials that they will never use.||All additional costs information to students are reviewed annually in line with Consumer Marketing Authority (CMA) guidelines. Given the creative nature of our courses, it is difficult to be specific about additional costs but we can give an indication of extra mandatory costs you are likely to need to budget for. This is detailed in your offer letter.
|3. Students felt that tuition fees were very high and that they had no idea where all the money goes. There was a perception that any surplus money is spent on the Farnham campus.||The University provides information about how tuition fees are spent (see the link below). In addition to the regular running costs of the University there is a rolling programme of works plus a continuous upgrade of infrastructure, facilities, course equipment, IT equipment and general resources which covers all campuses. For information on these and other finances, please see the UCA website:
|4. Cost of printing work for assignments and tutorials can be very expensive.||The university’s Creative Education Strategy encourages assessment that is designed to support student learning and achievement. As part of an ongoing ‘culture’ supported by ‘formative’ and ‘summative’ feedback, our tutors design assessment methods that keep the amount students’ need to print to a minimum.
The university’s Student Success Committee is currently exploring the use of electronic submissions as an alternative to traditional printed submissions.
|5. Amount of Information provided to students at the beginning of their course is considerable. Needs to be reinforced later in the term.||The university has undertaken some research around induction tutoring and the first year experience and will be using this to inform changes we make to how students are supported at the beginning of their course. This is detailed on our Creative Education Network:
The university is committed to the successful induction of all students and has recently set up a working group on Induction (sub group of the Student Success Committee) to take this work forward.
|6. Visibility of Services is poor, eg awareness of LSS Gateway. Not all students are aware of where it is located or what services it offers Better signage would be beneficial.||As part of Library Student Services’ induction activities, students are introduced to the Gateway and the services and support they can access. The physical induction sessions are supported by online content, which is available in myUCA allowing students to revisit the induction information in their own time and at their own speed.
Library & Student Services’ staff also take part in the Welcome and Fresher’s Fair. This is followed up with promotional material which includes a phased poster and postcard campaign signposting students to the Gateway.
LSS staff engage with courses throughout the academic year by attending course and school board meetings and through liaison with the Students’ Union.
Library & Student Services also hosts variety of events aimed at highlighting our services and encouraging positive health and wellbeing, money management and general information, advice and guidance.
Library & Student Services continues to work with Estates & Facilities to improve signage across each of our campuses.
Information about our services and where they are located is made available electronically through the UCA web pages, myUCA and social media.
To raise staff awareness of the services and support we offer, LSS has developed a “When to Refer” guide for staff and also delivers a range workshops and training annually.
|7. Available and accessible resources were considered the most important aspect to the student experience. Students felt that the number of computers available to students is insufficient. This is particularly noticeable round submission time. The software students are required to use is very expensive.||The university regularly undertakes utilisation surveys of all computing resources across the campuses to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of computers deployed across within open access areas. Although general access computing facilitates have been reduced, the university has focused on deploying and improving the high-end computing facilities within high intensive computing courses to enhance the student experience. The university is investigating further investment opportunities into BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).|
|8. Communication with students is an issue. The best mode of communication could not be identified.
Students said they don’t log on to myUCA regularly and therefore when they do they are inundated with emails and it is hard for them to distinguish which are important.
|The University acknowledges that systems of communication between staff and students and between students is not as effective as it could be.
The university is currently looking at communication across and within campus communities as part of a ‘campus life’ workstream project. It is acknowledged that the current communication systems do not provide for ‘group meetings’ or collaboration.
Important information is distributed to students via the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (myUCA). So it is essential that students use this platform. The university will upgrade myUCA for the start of 2018/19 and this will considerably improve stability and performance of the platform.
The University with the IT service is also looking into the issue of email inboxes to look at the systems to deter bulk emails.
The university’s learning and teaching team have commissioned an in-house research project on online social learning spaces for students, which aims to explore some of these communication issues.
|9. Guest lectures and visiting artists was the most commonly identified value added experience. High profile guest lecturers to be streamed and recorded||Best practice from these key events is to be promoted to School and Course Teams.|
|10. Collaboration between courses had been anticipated by students but very little takes place.||The University acknowledges that opportunities for students to collaborate between courses is a great opportunity and needs exploiting. The University will be exploring a new Education Strategy over the next 9 months and will involve students and academic staff in how, as part of this, we can promote collaboration between courses.|
|11. Open access to facilities extracurricular workshops with technicians
|Increased access to studio and workshops have been introduced 17.15 – 20.00 Monday to Friday, for low risk activities and processes (power off and hand tools) .
The University is also rolling out a Salto locking system across the sites to enable the opening of the IT Studios 17.15 – 20.00.
Technical support is available via negotiation with Resource Managers, with a reasonable timeframe to arrange.
|12. The issue of "finding someone" comes up all the time, whether it's an academic or someone to discuss student concerns with, from courses to fees, deadlines, advice, etc
|The University virtual learning environment (myUCA) has very good information about services and academic support. This online platform is the first point of contact for UCA students detailing Year Leaders and Course Leaders and making explicit how and when students can locate them for sorting out issues.
In addition, the University has conducted research into the student experience, focusing on induction and personal tutoring. Two working groups have been set up to take forward the recommendations from this work.
|13. Students urge the University to provide greater extension of library opening hours required by students particularly around submission deadlines.||Library and Students Services continually monitors the usage of our spaces, and strives to tailor its services accordingly.
The library operates extended opening hours over 3 weekends during the academic year and Gateway Service Managers work with Campus Registry and academic staff to identify dates when course deadlines are due, in order to schedule these as efficiently as possible.
We also try to be flexible around student requirements and have very recently adjusted opening hours over the Easter break in order to offset some of the lost study time students encountered due to campus snow closures.
We continue to work with the University to explore opportunities for enhancing our services and provision.
|14. Students would like to see more opportunity to meet/socialise with other students.||UCASU has worked very hard in the past three years to improve our offer to students at UCA. We acknowledge that we need to do more to improve our visibility and we welcome any feedback you might have on this. Please visit our website or post feedback through our social media platforms:
UCASU currently has over 80 clubs and societies across all campuses, with two of clubs shortlisted for National Society Awards for the first time. Information on all our clubs can be found here:
UCASU also have greatly improved our events provision and we have created a programme of more events and activities across all campuses. This is particularly strong in Farnham and we are working to improve the offer across the rest of the campuses with greater knowledge of what our students want.
|15. Students stressed the importance of good access to teaching and technical staff which they believe provides the highest quality experience.||The University is very pleased that students recognize this. The University provides a high level of contact time across academic and technical teaching compared with the sector.|
|16. Libraries are too noisy making it difficult to carry out background reading or write a dissertation/report.||Library and Student Services acknowledges that students like to study and learn in a variety of ways.
We are, therefore, continually reviewing our spaces and striving to ensure that students have a choice of different spaces in which to work. The nature of our campuses means that each library is different, however we aim to provide a silent, quiet and group work zone on each site.
We want to encourage a vibrant working environment where users are mindful of each other. We are continuing to make improvements to our spaces by listening to student and staff feedback as well as by looking at best practice across the sector to help shape our service offer.
As the libraries are one of the most heavily used spaces on campus, noise levels can sometimes exceed an acceptable level. However, staff will be proactive in speaking to students in the first instance, asking them to be more considerate towards other users. Students are also encouraged to contact the Gateway Desk if they wish to report a noise disturbance.
If you have any questions for the university regarding the responses please contact Annamarie Mckie (Interim Head of Learning, Teaching and Student Engagement) at [email protected]