LONDON’S GLOBAL UNIVERSITY
STUDENT EXPERIENCE COMMITTEE
(Incorporating Joint Staff Student Committee)
3 November 2015
MINUTES
PRESENT:
Professor Anthony Smith (Chair)
Ms Rebecca Allen, Ms Wendy Appleby, Ms Nicola Arnold, Mr David Ashton, Dr Paul Ayris, Ms
Karen Barnard, Professor Claire Carmalt, Dr Paul Davies, Ms Clare Goudy, Ms Judith
Hillmore, Dr Arne Hofmann, Ms Sian Minett (by phone for item 7), Dr Ruth Siddall, Mr Tom
Robinson, Mr Mike Rowson, Dr Fiona Strawbridge, Ms Olga Thomas and Ms Soo Ware
In attendance: Ms Rhian Douglas (for Professor Norbert Pachler), Ms Lina Kamenova (for Ms
Denise Long), Ms Sally Mackenzie and Mr Rob Traynor (Secretary)
Apologies for absence were received from Dr Brenda Cross, Ms Denise Long, Ms Suguna
Nair, Professor Norbert Pachler and Ms Wahida Samie
Key to abbreviations:
AC
Academic Committee
IOE
Institute of Education
JSSC
Joint Staff Student Committee
NSS
National Student Survey
SEQ
Student Evaluation Questionnaire
SMT
Senior Management Team
SRS
Student and Registry Services
StEC
Student Experience Committee
StEF
Student Experience Forum
StARs Student Academic Representatives
UCLU UCL Union
1
WELCOME
1.1
2
The Chair welcomed the new members and student representatives to
membership of the StEC.
CONSTITUTION AND TERMS OF REFERENCE 2015-16
[PAPER 1-01]
2.1
Received – the constitution and 2015-16 membership and terms of reference of
StEC.
Student Experience Committee – 3 November 2015 – Minutes
2.2
Following discussion between the chairs of StEF and JSSC and consultation
with UCLU officers, it was agreed to incorporate JSSC into the StEF. The
rationale behind this change was to address the essentially similar remits of the
two committees, the overlap between their memberships and possible
duplication of business. There was also concerns that JSSC was receiving less
business as student representatives tended to bring items to StEC instead.
StEF will be re-designated from a “Forum” to a “committee”.
2.3
The JSSC student representatives will join StEC and it was agreed to increase
their number to eleven to allow one representative for each faculty.
RESOLVED:
2.4
3
That the StEC terms of reference and constitution be submitted to AC for formal
approval1.
Action: Rob Traynor
MINUTES OF 17 JUNE 2015 MEETING
3.1
Approved – the Minutes of the StEF meeting held on 17 June 2015 [StEF
Minutes 8-15, 2014-15].
4
MATTERS ARISING FROM THE MINUTES
4A
Changes to Student Engagement Governance
(StEF Minute 10A, 17.06.15)
4B
4A.1
Received – an update from the Director of Education Planning, Office of the
Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs).
4A.2
The Director of Education Planning reported that the Student Engagement
Steering Group will consider the vision for the student experience and develop a
strategy to progress this. Terms of reference are being developed and the
Group will report to StEC. The Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs)
office has appointed a new Head of Student Engagement, Ms Sally Mackenzie,
who will start in December, to lead on these matters. The Chair welcomed Ms
Mackenzie to the Committee.
Student Evaluation Questionnaires
(StEF Minute 11, 17.06.15)
4B.1
Received – an update from the Head of Student Experience and Global
Citizenship, Office of the Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs).
4B.2
The Head of Student Experience and Global Citizenship reported the following:
 A great deal of work had been conducted on SEQs and the possibility of
their centralisation. This has included meetings with external companies
which provide this service to universities. However progress had recently
slowed as it was discovered that the Portico data is currently not robust
1
AC formally approved the StEC terms of reference and constitution at its meeting on 10 November
2015, given as part of the StEC annual report (AC Minute 18, 10/11/15).
2
Student Experience Committee – 3 November 2015 – Minutes

5
enough to support the links required to these companies. Work is
underway to address the issues with the Portico data.
The Working Group on Student Surveys had met twice and was reviewing
UCL survey policy. It’s Communications Sub-Group has recently worked
with the JWA external agency to consider ways to improve survey
promotion at UCL and create a recognisable brand for internal surveys.
Following consultation with staff and student focus groups, promotional
material had been prepared and is being piloted on the next wave of the
Student barometer survey. StEC was shown this material at the meeting,
which is also available on the StEC SharePoint.
RISK REGISTER UPDATE
[PAPER 1-02]
6
5.1
Received – an oral introduction to the paper from the Head of Student
Experience and Global Citizenship, Office of the Vice-Provost (Education and
Student Affairs).
5.2
The Student Experience section from the Institutional Risk Register was tabled
at the meeting and is available on the StEC SharePoint. It was noted that both
the NSS and Student Barometer overall scores are part of UCL’s Key
Performance Indicators. The Risk Register lists as a key risk “Failure to meet
student expectations” and due to the low scores from both surveys this is
currently classified as “intolerable”. StEC will have a major role in improving
these scores at UCL.
5.3
The StEC Risk Register is based on the Student Barometer survey results and
will thus link with the Institutional Risk Register through those results and by the
contributions of several StEC members, including the Chair, to the SMT
discussions on institutional risk.
5.4
It was noted that the StEC Risk Register’s order had changed since the last
meeting, with the discussion on Student Accommodation moved to the next
meeting. StEC will continue to discuss the Risk Register and reports from the
UCL professional services during the year.
GROUP 3 RISK ANALYSIS REPORT: LEARNING SPACES/PHYSICAL
LIBRARY/ON-LINE LIBRARY
[PAPER 1-032]
2
6.1
Received – an oral introduction to the paper from the Director of Library
Services.
6.2
The Director of Library Services reported the following:
 The 2015 NSS satisfaction score for the Library was good at 88%, higher
than the sector average (87%) and above the UCL overall satisfaction
score (83%). This was a considerable achievement considering the rising
student numbers at UCL.
Following the meeting, the risk report was revised and is available on the StEC SharePoint.
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Student Experience Committee – 3 November 2015 – Minutes
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6.3
The Library had produced six risk register forms as part of its analysis,
focusing on UCL’s digital library, Physical spaces, Core reading and
textbooks, Opening hours, Student information Skills development and
Self-issue/Self return of library materials.
Student Barometer scores were outstanding for the digital library (94% in
the Summer Wave), but lower for the physical library (80% in the Summer
Wave). The physical library scores were below the Russell Group average
(91%). Higher investment in the Library would lead to higher scores.
The biggest single issue affecting satisfaction scores is increasing student
numbers and the Library is unable to accommodate all the students who
wish to use it. It is not a “Tardis”, larger on the inside than on the out and
the Flaxman Gallery currently has students sitting on floors. The recently
opened hubs in the Cruciform and Senate House and the extra planned
study space in the Student Centre, opening in 2018, can only begin to
catch up with demand. The risk is that with numbers likely to increase, the
pressure on study spaces will lead to lower student satisfaction and
possible reputational damage to UCL.
Access to core textbooks and materials is also affected by rising student
numbers and it is not possible to provide enough copies of textbooks for
every student. The Library has had some success with increasing the
numbers of digitally available materials through the [email protected]
service and the target of 45% accessibility through Moodle (2014-15) had
been achieved. This will be important in meeting demand and in helping to
deliver the new Education Strategy and initiatives such as the Connected
Curriculum. However, the practice by some academics of independently
placing readings on Moodle risked prosecution for copyright infringement
by publishing companies, one of which had already complained to UCL.
Library officers will contact departments about this and inform them that
using [email protected] will avoid these problems as it covers copyright
and other third party issues.
Increased 24 hour library opening hours had proved very popular with
students. A bid in the current UCL budget round to fund opening times
extension to weekends in the examination period is supported by the SMT.
The Library’s web-based modules on student information skills
development could be factored into the new Education Strategy and linked
to the Connected Curriculum. The Library proposes that a formal training
course for all students is embedded in the curriculum, thus addressing the
risk that UCL produces graduates without the requisite information skills for
their professional careers and future study.
The Library is currently introducing, self-funded from its reserves, the RFID
programme of self-issue and self-return into all its libraries. This will free up
staff time and enhance service during 24 hour opening times. This should
help to address lower physical library satisfaction scores and prevent UCL
falling behind its competitors, who are also introducing these services.
The following points were noted in the StEC discussion:
 Increasing student numbers were a major risk to UCL and appeared to
be behind many of the problems brought up in the risk analyses.
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Student Experience Committee – 3 November 2015 – Minutes


Although there were financial pressures on faculties to increase student
numbers, this needed to be conducted sustainably and not at the
expense of the student experience. There is also a problem of a lack of
joined up thinking apparent in faculty strategic plans, none of which
currently mentioned the library and the additional resources required
should student numbers increase.
The Library’s proposed information skills development would also have
benefits in improving students’ employability and it was encouraged to
link up with UCL Careers Service, as well as with CALT in discussing the
new education strategy.
The UCLU Welfare and International Officer was encouraged to discuss
the issues raised by the report with UCLU colleagues. It was noted that
demand from students had led to increased 24 hour opening and that
they would continue to press UCL on other areas of interest regarding
library matters such as study space.
RESOLVED:
6.4
7
That StEC returns to the risk analysis report as the Risk Register is developed.
Action: StEC Members to note
GROUP 4 RISK ANALYSIS REPORT: CAMPUS BUILDINGS AND TEACHING
SPACES/CAMPUS ENVIRONMENT/ECO-FRIENDLY ATTITUDE/CATERING/
LABORATORIES
[PAPER 1-04]
7.1
Received – an oral introduction to the paper from the Director of Estates,
Portfolio and Business Services, UCL Estates (by telephone).
7.2
The Director of Estates, Portfolio and Business Services reported the following:
 Teaching and study space, both access to and quality of, were the
biggest issues facing UCL in this risk area and UCL was bottom of the
Russell Group for these Student Barometer questions. UCL also scored
poorly in the NSS (78%) to the question on accessing specialised
equipment and rooms. The risks to UCL should this continue were rated
“very high” and included reduced student satisfaction, increasing gap with
key competitors, reputational damage, possible litigation and income
loss, as well as negative impact on student recruitment and retention.
 Capital investment in the UCL estate had not kept pace with increased
student numbers growth (over 40% since 2007) and under-investment,
allied with a lack of aligned institutional level decision-making and joined
up processes had all contributed to the problems UCL is experiencing
now. The Capital Programme of refurbishment and extension of the
estate, whilst necessary for longer term improvements, also exacerbated
pressures in the short-term (e.g. through the loss of building such as
Wates House and Bentham House whilst being refurbished).
 UCL thus faced many challenges in dealing with these issues, including
aligning it’s Estates Strategy with the UCL 2034 Strategy, matching
space with demand, improving efficiency of timetabling and room booking
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Student Experience Committee – 3 November 2015 – Minutes
processes and making the most of opportunities to renew and add to the
estate (it was noted that the new Student Centre is the last piece of
sizeable land to be developed in Bloomsbury under direct UCL control).
7.3
The following points were noted in the StEC discussion:
 The SLASH Faculty member reported severe problems with time-tabling
and room booking this term for the Laws Faculty including late allocation
of rooms, rooms changed or even cancelled at short notice and rooms
not large enough for the student numbers (it was queried if the latter is a
Room Bookings policy). Some LLM classes had to be cancelled and rescheduled next term. This led to high levels of student complaints, as well
as a great deal of pressure on academic and administrative staff in
dealing with the problems.
 It was noted that the new approach of Timetable Optimisation by Room
Bookings had run into problems. This was designed to improve room
allocation by factoring in key parameters such as distance between
lectures, continuity of rooms for teaching series and zoning. It appeared
that the problems lay with the accuracy of estimated student numbers
data when the rooms were allocated. If there were later increases, the
allocated rooms might become too small. UCL Estates and SRS had
developed a single integrated timetable, which should improve accuracy
in allocating rooms of appropriate size for classes. SRS is looking at
improving mechanisms for anticipating module numbers and the
timescale for doing so. Earlier deadlines to log this would allow for
greater planning time. It was agreed that a review of the problems with
timetabling and room bookings in Term 1 would be helpful.
 The Chair stated that it was important to recognise that these issues with
the UCL estate were a shared problem and were not just to be dealt with
by UCL Estates on its own. A lack of planning and strategic integration
had led to these problems in the past and they could only be addressed
by UCL working together to address them.
RESOLVED:
7.4
8
That the Director of Estates, Portfolio and Business Services meet with Faculty
Tutors to discuss room allocation problems and seek solutions to address them.
Action: Sian Minett and Faculty Tutors
ACCOMMODATION TASK AND FINISH GROUP UPDATE
[PAPER 1-05]
8.1
Received – an oral introduction to the paper from the Head of Student
Experience and Global Citizenship, Office of the Vice-Provost (Education and
Student Affairs).
8.2
Productive meetings, including one between the Chair, StEC officers and senior
UCL Estates officers had been held to agree the parameters of the Task and
Finish Group. Terms of reference are being finalized and the Group, which will
include academic and student members will meet soon. It is expected to report
to StEC at its next meeting.
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Student Experience Committee – 3 November 2015 – Minutes
9
STUDENT BAROMETER SUMMER 2015 PRELIMINARY RESULTS
[PAPER 1-07 – tabled at the meeting]
10
9.1
Received – a paper outlining the Student Barometer results and available on
the StEC SharePoint, introduced by the Student Experience Data Manager,
Office of the Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs).
9.2
The Student Experience Data Manager reported the following:
 The Student Barometer had been held twice each year at UCL, with an
Autumn and Summer wave. This would be the last Summer wave due to
low response rates which affected the data reliability. Holding the survey
once a year would help to focus resources more effectively. It was also
noted that few of UCL’s Russell Group and London competitors
participated in the Summer wave, thus further reducing the data’s value.
 The UCL response rate had improved to 19% and the overall satisfaction
score was 88%, 7% higher than the previous Summer Wave. However
the scores for the Living (82%) and Support (85%) question groupings
had both declined to their lowest level in the survey so far. UCL was
bottom of the six Russell Group institutions taking part, but performed
better against its London peers, first out of five for overall satisfaction.
 Work is continuing on the data and this will be disseminated in UCL soon.
StEF ANNUAL REPORT TO ACADEMIC COMMITTEE 2014-15
[PAPER 1-06]
10.1
Received – an introduction from the Secretary, who briefly outlined the key
activities undertaken by StEF last session.
RESOLVED
10.2
11
That the StEF Annual Report 2014-15 be approved and forwarded to the next
meeting of AC on 10 November 2015.
ACTION: Rob Traynor
DATES OF NEXT MEETINGS
11.1
Dates of further StEC meetings in the 2015-16 session are:
15 March 2016 (2pm Haldane Room)
26 May 2016 (2pm Haldane Room)
Rob Traynor
StEC Secretary
Quality Assurance Coordinator
Academic Services (Student and Registry Services)
[telephone: 0203 108 8213 internal extension: 58213 email: [email protected]]
9 December 2015
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STUDENT EXPERIENCE COMMITTEE (Incorporating Joint Staff Student Committee) 3 November 2015