Introduction


Welcome to the University of Greenwich Student Submission to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) produced for its Higher Education Review (HER) 2015. As part of the process of the HER, the student body is encouraged to submit a document about its experience at University. The QAA uses this document to inform their work at the University—the team visit the campus in April 2015. At the start of the HER, a Lead Student Representative is named and leads on the creation of the student submission.This living document is unique in its construction since its content is intended to serve more than a single purpose.

The more orthodox Student Submission is a somewhat stale document filled with thousands of words, led primarily by desk based analysis of existing survey data. We wanted to do things differently, feeling that it was crucial to set up a conversation. The material presented below is a result of a wider consultation, and will remain valuable long after the HER is completed as a resource that the student body can use to challenge the University (and itself) for years to come.

I would like to thank all those who helped form this document, particularly the students who took part in the conversation — often very passionately. Special thanks go to my colleagues at the Students’ Union: a special mention to Gary Naylor who helped form many of these words; Sarah Bouchard and Ben Atkins who helped with much of the data analysis; Jenny Greenfield who offered staff time, resources, and guidance throughout the entire process; Georgios Kalamogiorgos, who produced video, web content, and incredible design in no time at all; and Chloe Weaver who helped with the production of interviews and their organisation.

Finally, I would like to thank my fellow full-time elected officers; Edward Oakes, Harry Hodges, and Owais Chishty. They put up with me being distracted and stressed; and they challenged the final outcome where the opportunity arose.


Alex Brooks
President, Students’ Union University of Greenwich (2013-15) 
and Lead Student Representative

 
 
 
How We Did This?


We held 31 face to face interviews with students, producing over 14 hours of raw content which informed all aspects of this document. The videos have been edited and appear, where appropriate, below. We also consulted more than 50 students in focus groups, seeking their opinions on their experiences and expectations.

A wide range of existing data has also been analysed ensuring that the evidence base is strong. Sources include: the National Student Survey; the University Student Survey; International Student Barometer; Postgraduate and Research Experience Survey; Student Experience and Engagement Survey; New Arrivals Survey; Students' Union Freshers Survey; Students' Union Autumn Term Teaching and Learning Survey (comments); Students’ Union Inter-campus Bus Survey.

We also used the Union’s routine methods of gauging student opinion: Faculty Forums; Student (pre-2014 Union) Councils; Sports and Societies Councils; and Programme Representatives training sessions. Elected officers talk to hundreds of students every week, gathering thoughts and opinions about ongoing issues.

We are proud to say that thousands of individual student voices have informed this document, led its construction and appear directly as key elements of its content. We believe that this approach has produced a balanced, evaluative, and insightful Student Submission.

 
 
Pre-Arrival and First Weeks


Home students report that they research programme information via the University website, UCAS, and at Open Days; international students rely on the website and prospectus. Parents and carers, an increasingly important audience due to rising costs, can feel excluded from communication focused on students only (though many attend Open Days).

Once “attached” to the University through accepting an offer, students receive lots of information, the volume and consistency of which can be confusing and is currently under review in the Day One Week One group (which includes Students’ Union representation). The challenge is to provide students with relevant information which is neither too generic, nor too programme specific and avoids the jargon-bound language of an HE culture as yet unknown by the applicant. Creating communications that are fit for purpose for applicants (many without a family background in university attendance) preparing for transition, is a challenge for the University—one that it has recognised.

Students preparing to register would like to know:
(i) what to expect in the first weeks at university;
(ii) what to bring with them;
(iii) examples of work they’ll be doing;
(iv) the balance of curriculum they will study to assist in both preparation and decision making;
(v) information on accommodation (halls and private) and the areas near the campuses;
(vi) relevant additional costs (beyond fees) - see below

Students who arrive late at the University miss key communications and report feeling “lost” in the processes. Some other students also have a “hard landing”, going straight into academic study, missing out on important opportunities to feel part of the University community, which impacts their experience in the short and long term. The University may need to be more systematic in how it deals with those students who miss the large scale, successful, and useful September transition events for whatever reason.

"I had issues with registration which led to me starting uni 6 weeks later. Although I approached my course coordinator several times, my timetable is still incomplete and I have not been helped resolve this issue. Exams, and assignments are coming up and I still don't know what to do." Students' Union Survey 2014 comment 14

 
 
 
 


Students strongly value two key aspects of the first weeks at University: (i) socialising, making friends, becoming part of the University community; and (ii) academic related (but fun) activities that give them a strong base for the coming years and also act as an icebreaker with staff and fellow students. Some students reported settling well into University life, but struggling to adjust to their new local community and life in London—this aspect is something that the Students’ Union is working on with its Give It A Go events in Freshers Fortnight.

There was something for me amongst the Students’ Union events and activities: Strongly Agree + Agree 73.3%.

Students' Union Freshers Survey 2014 Q14
The Students’ Union is recognised as playing a vital role in transition into university, running Freshers Fairs on each campus, student group meet and greets, and Freshers Fortnight social events during the day and evening. Even so some students miss the benefit of joining a Student Group in their very first week at university as they are unsure of their finances and sometimes concerned about the time commitment required.

More trips requested.

Students' Union Freshers Survey 2014

Without the Students' Union I would have left the University. The student activities they offer have allowed me to make friends and develop my skills.

Students' Union Survey 2014 comment 86

At the end of Freshers Fortnight, I felt more a part of the Students’ Union and University communities: Strongly Agree + Agree 70.7%.

Students' Union Freshers Survey 2014 Q18

Students who have to travel far to get to the University, however, see these activities as separate from their academic lives and often miss them in favour of staying at home. The Students’ Union would welcome enhanced integration of its activities with Faculty and Programme based activities (especially clashes with timetables and publicity) and increased support from academic staff in highlighting the Union’s Freshers Fortnight—nevertheless, we do understand that planning in partnership with so many competing interests is tricky. The availability of programme specific Week One timetables (new in September 2014) was seen as effective in dealing with many routine queries from new arrivals (e.g. concerning locations of registration or induction sessions). There is still some work to be done to iron out inconsistencies and some errors in their drafting, something that the Day One Week One group is currently addressing.
 
 
 
 
Teaching and Learning


Students (by and large) very much enjoy their teaching at the University of Greenwich, but the huge variation in disciplines and the large number of programmes make it difficult to make across the board qualitative statements.

Great support and help from my tutors and lecturers. Had a wonderful experience and I felt my course was well organised.

NSS 2014 comments line 14

Academic limitations. Poor value for money. Dull, dispassionate and lazy one size fits all general teaching means I've now reconsidered and currently following an altogether different career.

NSS 2014 comments line 18
Some students spoke of teaching content being repeated over years of study (limiting their opportunities to progress their skills and knowledge) and of some dull lectures being delivered by uninterested lecturers going through the motions. These reports may be due to the ‘traditional’ method of learning adopted across most of the University, with the standard lecture and seminar format being implemented, which works for some, but not all, students.

For example, an advanced mathematic principle is required by a project given to students before the basic mathematical methods have been taught. Some lecture material is greatly duplicated over a number of years by different courses. For more complex subjects a minimal amount of contact time is given. For example 16 hours contact time per week is required by a lecturer, 2 hours are given. Why is this?

NSS 2014 comments line 83

The University promotes a number of initiatives to develop new and innovative ways of learning, with a strong push towards active learning in the classroom and more emphasis on self learning and preparation beyond it. The impact of such projects is hard to assess, as they are small scale, but when lecturers make teaching more interactive, students praise the approach.

 

Students generally enjoy their pace of learning and are stimulated by attending the University of Greenwich. There are frustrations along the way, however, primarily driven by perceived pockets of ‘sub-standard’ teaching. Having said that, teaching staff are widely praised for being helpful, attentive, and encouraging discussion where possible.
 

Some lectures are boring and useless, lecturer was reading the slide from beginning to the end.

NSS 2014 comments line 142

Excellent standard of teaching throughout the course. Good standard of facilities.

NSS 2014 comments line 77
 
 
 
 
Assessment and Feedback

Assessment

Students are pleased with the range of assessment they are given. Whilst the natural inclination is to dislike certain aspects (e.g. group work, presentations, or exam pressure) they do enjoy the variation in assessment methods. However, frustrations arise when marks are heavily weighted towards the traditional methods of assessment. It’s not uncommon to hear of an exam accounting for 40% of a course’s mark, with a presentation making up just 10%. We believe that new thinking in this area may come forward when students become directly involved in programme design.

My assessments vary in format and are suited to the specific subjects: Strongly Agree + Agree 79.4%.

Students' Union Survey 2014 Q8

In traditional academic subjects (such as Humanities), students are given a narrower range of assessments, the majority requiring solely written work. Students have a strong desire to go beyond essays and reports, thus developing their skills and knowledge.

The bunching of assessments is a common complaint, with many coursework deadlines falling together at the end of the term. This creates unnecessary and debilitating pressure which affects performance and marks. However, active student engagement has led (in some programmes) to varying deadlines to avoid this bunching through careful and constructive planning.

 

 
 
 
 
The Students’ Union has run an effective campaign to move to anonymous marking on written assessments across the University from the beginning of academic year 2014/15. This has recently led to the University implementing a new system after consultation with the Vice President Education and various student representatives. Its introduction has received a largely positive reception, tempered with some negative comments. In these early days, students report that lecturers are now less willing to look at drafts of essays ahead of the deadline (since they will then “know” the work when assessing it); other students are disappointed that formal assessment feedback is no longer as individually focused as it was when the student’s name was on the work. On the flip side, students welcome an ability to speak frankly about the quality of their programme, and make more use of student voice opportunities.
 
 
 
 

Feedback

Students value good assessment feedback as a key learning opportunity, but report an inconsistency in feedback, in terms of structure, timing, and content. However, new initiatives such as online feedback have improved turnaround times in some programmes. The Students’ Union has also worked with the University to develop a form that allows students to report on the quality of assessment feedback–it is currently being trialed.  Some dissatisfaction is reported because feedback is not sufficiently detailed nor corresponds to the mark awarded. In such cases, students usually feel comfortable going back to their tutors for further clarification, but not always, and this can lead to frustrations and can slow progress on other assessments. 

 

Tutor feedback on assessments is clear, on time and allows me to improve my work: Strongly Agree + Agree 50.5%.

Students' Union Survey 2014 Q9
 
 
 
 

On a few occasions, feedback from work has been very vague and poor with little improvements given even though not achieving a perfect mark.

NSS 2014 comments line 32

When I am unhappy with a grade and the feedback is unclear, I can ask for further information: Strongly Agree + Agree 50.0%.

Students' Union Survey 2014 Q10

Late feedback (beyond three weeks as defined in the University Assessment and Feedback Policy), is a cross-university issue, with students from all faculties complaining of feedback sometimes taking months to be returned. The impact of this late feedback is most pernicious when its delivery to the student coincides with their completion of new coursework, meaning that they are unable to show improvement on their next submission, since they have not been able to take account of the comments made on their previous assessed work. 

On occasions, feedback from assignments has taken a long time and has affected completing other work for future deadlines.

NSS 2014 comments line 32

Sometimes with the marking you would wait a few months to get a piece of work back and then, even after all that time, it wouldn't have much feedback.

NSS 2014 comments line 39

The only negative comment is the rate in which work is marked. The work is marked at a very slowly (sic) especially as the first students on the course. It's important to know if your work is to standard and gain feedback, so we are able to improve in upcoming coursework.

NSS 2014 comments line 174

The format in which feedback is returned often varies hugely between members of teaching staff. Despite all written assessments having to be submitted online to be anonymously marked, it’s not uncommon for feedback to be returned on paper, e.g. an annotated essay or on a completely separate sheet of paper. This variation in practice can leads to misunderstandings and delays for students.

The Students’ Union’s Advice Service believes that there is no systematic, effective scrutiny within the University on matters relating to ‘academic judgment’, including marks awarded or the quality of feedback. We feel that it would be a constructive step forward to develop a clear, publicised process for staff and students to report issues concerning feedback and assessment which would promote consistency across the University.

 
 
 
 
Personal Tutoring


A Personal Tutoring System was developed by EDU in consultation with the Students' Union and introduced in 2013-14, but its adoption across the University as a whole has been somewhat patchy.

Being a part-time student, something it has been difficult to feel like part of the group, as the course felt that it was not designed for part-time day students. Whilst attempts were often made to accommodate timetable requests, this was not always possible and could sometimes conflict with work schedules, which made studying hard. Appreciating that there are thousands of students to place in tutorial slots, it sometimes felt that no forward thinking for the part-time students had taken place.

NSS 2014 comments line 130

Many students report that they are unaware of their personal tutor, but those who enjoy the facility report that it is effective in supporting their studies, their wellbeing, and personal lives. Despite this praise of many personal tutors, it is sometimes tempered by frustration when some staff are not as accessible as students would like and not as accommodating in scheduling tutorials.

There are sometimes limited times that we can have for our tutors due to the clashing of their office times and our timetables.

NSS 2014 comment line 12

Three-quarters of respondents (75%) said that they had been assigned a personal tutor group… and four-fifths of these found them very or fairly useful.

2013 -14 Student Experience and Engagement Survey Summary p8
Many students believe that there is scope for flexibility in the implementation of the system, as much depends on the personal relationship between the student and the assigned personal tutor, which may not always be as constructive as it could. This leads some students to approach other members of staff, who have been known to act as de facto personal tutors. This relationship with an informal personal tutor is particularly welcomed in cases where the assigned personal tutor is also the programme leader (or delivers many of the programme’s courses), which can lead to possible conflicts of interest when students wish to raise issues.
 
 
 
 
Student Engagement and Student Voice


The new Student Engagement Framework (SEF) was developed through the Student Experience Committee, at the University, led by its Chair and the President of the Students' Union. It sets out expectations placed upon the University on all aspects of student consultation and in developing academic partnership.

We believe that the SEF will lead to a range of new initiatives including: student involvement in programme design; enhanced student feedback on academic issues leading to University action; and increasingly effective student participation in University committees and sub-committees.

The University has supported the Union with both specific and non-specific funding for Union staff to develop and administer the Programme Rep system. The Students' Union’s input has developed in the last two years from training only into a closer relationship since the Programme Reps now form the constituency that elects Faculty Officers (who serve on both faculty committees and the Union’s Student Council).

The Programme Rep system (comprising up to 1800 students) is challenging in terms of recruitment, administration, and communication, particularly in the Autumn Term when the Students’ Union’s training is scheduled as early as possible. There is further work to be done by both the Union and the University to empower Programme Reps fully in order to make the most of their talents and knowledge.

Programme Reps report that in many instances, their comments, views and suggestions (for example in Departmental Programme Committees) are not followed up, nor reported at subsequent meetings / discussions. This failure to “close the loop” is both disappointing and demoralising for Programme Reps and fails to make the most of the system’s potential.

The volume of papers and the persistence of opaque bureaucratic language, jargon, and acronyms in University documentation makes it very difficult for students to contribute effectively in meetings and committees. The commitment required to attend sometimes very lengthy meetings, also impacts on the effectiveness of (voluntary) student representatives who may need to leave early/arrive late or lack the opportunity to prepare properly. Additionally, meetings are sometimes held at inconvenient times for the Programme Representatives, such as during exam weeks or weeks that fall outside standard term time.

 
 
 
 
Organisation and Communication


An interesting challenge for both the Union and the University is the ever-growing volume of information that is being communicated to students. It’s not uncommon for students to lose interest in checking their email when they receive large quantities on a daily basis; this subsequently means that they miss important information that would benefit them.

Students engage with Moodle and appreciate recent changes in its look and functionality. However, the use of Moodle across the University varies according to the individual member of staff — there is much more that Moodle can do as a communication and administration tool (which would be welcomed by students) but it is not being pushed effectively by the University.

Some students on programmes with non-standard attendance (e.g. part-time or placement) find it difficult to access key face-to-face university support due to weekdays only office hours.

 

Course administration has been a nightmare. Conflicting sessions that are not put on the timetable. Too many conflicting emails from administrator about schedules which has caused a lot of confusion and anxiety amongst the whole cohort. Administrator very rude in personal and electronic interactions. Omitting information and portioning blame on to students when there is clearly an administrative error. Not apologising for the unfair treatment towards students for their own errors.

Students' Union Survey 2014 comment 189
“Back-office” local administrative support can prove frustrating for students, as admin and academic staff do not always direct them to the correct forms and procedures to address their concerns.

I really wanted to have a placement year, when I went to the get office they only mentioned a couple of jobs that wanted more UCAS points than what my course wanted. There is a NRI at the university that does great work for nutrition; we were not made aware of their existence until 3rd year. We were always told that we need to do PDP but it was never explained exactly how this will be used in the future or how employers will use it.

NSS 2014 comments line 8

My last tutor gave up work and I had to spend my time making calls trying to find a new one even though I was halfway through. The administration is ridiculous. You can only contact admin and finance Monday to Friday, which is not always possible for someone like me who works.

NSS 2014 comments line 164

The recent changes to the academic year has led to a Summer Term dedicated to examinations and unspecified “activities” (some related to employability). Students are often confused about the nature of their obligation to the University in the summer term, especially since those living in halls are required to sign a standard contract for the whole academic year. The Students’ Union wish to work with the University to make better use of the Summer Term for students; ensuring that they see the benefits of remaining on campus.

Some students, especially those who missed the first week(s) of induction, are unaware of important detailed processes such as the Extenuating Circumstances procedures. The Students’ Union Advice Service supports such students, but a broader range of communications channels may be required in order to reach such students in the ways that work for them.

 

 
 
Learning Resources


The Students’ Union successfully campaigned in 2013-14 (and 2012/13) for enhanced library opening hours at key periods of the academic year, a development that has been welcomed by students.

The opening of the Stockwell Street building (in Sept 2014) has led to many improvements in the student experience, but has also led to an unmet need in terms of access to computers. Students report frustration with both the limited number of workstations and the management of them–e.g. the inability of the University to prevent students remaining logged on when absent (for example when going for lunch), effectively reserving the workstation to the exclusion of other users.

The Students’ Union spent much time talking with and engaging students about their needs for computing and other learning resources; this was fed back to the Information and Library Services teams during one of the regular meetings between them and Students' Union Officers. This feedback has led to immediate improvements, and plans for long term changes have been communicated.

During coursework deadline periods (November, February and March), it is difficult to find a computer in the library.

NSS 2014 comments line 46
Reading list texts are stocked by the library, but students report that often there are insufficient copies to satisfy predictable demand (scaled for student cohort size).

The Aspire Card (£200 minimum for Home/EU Year One students, to be spent on approved academic resources) has been welcomed by those students qualifying for it, but many report confusion over the rules about its use. The Students' Union has also raised concerns that the scheme is not sufficiently targeted at students who require the most financial assistance.

 

 
 
Additional Costs


The significant cost of printing documents (and specialist materials e.g. architectural drawings) comes as a surprise to many students. This cost (additional to fees) should be made more explicit in University communications to allow students to budget effectively; and where possible the University should do its best to remove the cost entirely.

The university has not made me pay for things I thought were included in the fees (e.g. inter-campus travel, field trips, printing and binding, specialist software): Strongly Agree + Agree 48.5%.

Students' Union Survey 2014 Q12

The growing cost of the bus service to Medway (currently £6.50 return with some reductions for bulk purchase) is a consistent source of discontent amongst students who use the service regularly. The Union’s survey shows that many students (right up to registration) are (i) unaware that there is a cost for tickets and (ii) that their programme requires them to travel to Medway.

75 of 142 students (53%) say that they did not know their programme was based at Medway before visiting the University.

Students’ Union Inter-Campus Bus Survey
The Students' Union is running a campaign to explore additional costs including those associated with living in halls (above the quoted rent figure.) Key issues emerging include: additional charges for wifi and electricity and a lack of clarity over assessment of charges for damage.

 

 
 
 
 
Living, Learning, and Social Spaces


Students report that the location and historical nature of the University’s buildings are a factor that led them to choose Greenwich. However, the buildings present challenges in terms of the availability and flexibility of space for both social and academic purposes.

The campus has poor social facilities for students who prefer not to meet at the pub. These results in racial and cultural segregation as there are no common facilities.

NSS 2014 comments line 124

The Union’s main buildings are off-campus at both Greenwich and Avery Hill, which impacts on the ability of the Union to engage fully with all its membership. The development of Student Hubs at Greenwich and Medway campuses will go some way to addressing this concern, particularly the inadequacy of the Medway campus’s offices in terms of size and prominence.

Stockwell Street and Queen Anne Court First Floor have significantly improved the learning environment for many students, but there are still spaces which are not fit for purpose on all three campuses.

The lack of suitable venues for Freshers Fairs (consistently reported as cramped and crowded) mitigates the impact of the Union’s biggest and most important opportunity to engage students and the feasibility of holding other large scale events to engage students during the academic year.

Better layout / more space and more stalls top two suggestions to improve fairs.

Students' Union Freshers Survey 2014
The addition in 2014 of Daniel Defoe Hall on the Greenwich campus has shown best practice in this area and thrown a sharper focus on the shortcomings of halls at Avery Hill and Medway (e.g. poor maintenance, ageing facilities and perceived low value for money). Students report that the mixing halls accommodation requires, is a great advantage in settling into student life.

 

 
 
 
 
Employability


Students report that one of their main motivations in choosing the University of Greenwich is to improve their employability. This chimes with a range of initiatives and statements that place employability at the heart of the University’s priorities. However, the delivery of skills and knowledge directly related to employability is not followed through in programmes nor in destination surveys.

The Students’ Union is improving its support of student employability through its Employability Toolkit (launched January 2014), increasing employment opportunities within the Union (including internships), its awards (including a prestigious ceremony that recognises students’ achievements) and its liaison with the University that ensures key Students’ Union roles are recognised on the student Higher Education Achievement Record. We are also working with Faculties to ensure that Employability Passports capture students’ contributions to Union activities.

 
 
 
 


Students report that University support for placements and other forms of work experience is inconsistent and often ineffective with a sense that the student is often left to sort things out for themselves, without any context of a placement’s importance within their student experience.

However, I was disappointed by the business placements office as I had some significant issues during my placement year and did not check on a regular basis to make sure that everything is going well at the work placement, especially with the legal paperwork. Moreover, she did not provide me any comments regarding my placement presentation. As a result, it can't help me if I am not told how to improve my presentations in the future.

NSS 2014 comments line 106
 
 
 
 
Health and Wellbeing


The Union’s campaign for improved sports facilities (particularly access to pitches and the sports hall) is crucial to its plans to enhance students’ opportunities for improving their physical and mental wellbeing. There is also a growing demand for suitable space for non-sporting wellbeing activities e.g. yoga and tai chi. Discussions continue in a positive environment, but there is still some way to go before tangible results are achieved.

The University provides opportunities for me to improve my health and wellbeing: Strongly Agree + Agree 50.4%.

Students' Union Survey 2014 Q16

I would like to have more sports facilities.

Students' Union Survey 2014 comment 206
Student groups find it difficult to obtain sufficient access to facilities for practice and competition with some evidence that such limitations stymie the growth of clubs and societies. We are confident that more facilities would (over time) increase uptake.

Students report that the selection of food offered within the University is appropriately varied with plenty of healthy eating options, but outlets were often very busy with extended waiting times which put students off using them.

Against a background at the national level of increasing demand from students in areas such as disability support and mental health services and in a context of increasing student numbers, the University has gone through an extended period of reorganisation of the Office for Student Affairs. It is disappointing that students are not seeing an improvement in the service offered.

Progression of all disabled students (UK on campus): Successful 2012-13 90.71%; 2013-14 89.98%.

Promoting Equality Celebrating Diversity January 2015

Progression of all disabled students (UK on campus) Mental Health Difficulties: Successful 2012-13 86.52%; 2013-14 80.36%.

Promoting Equality Celebrating Diversity January 2015

The exam facilities for disabled students are diabolical, using rooms that are totally unsuitable.

Students' Union Survey 2014 comment 178
 
 
 
 
Diversity


The University draws strength from its diverse student body, comprising many Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and overseas students. This leads to an international dimension (explicitly and implicitly) being included in programmes, teaching, and assessment.

My programme’s teaching and assessment recognises the diversity of the University: Strongly Agree + Agree 80.3%.

Students' Union Survey 2014 Q5
The Students’ Union supports student groups related to faith, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity which provide social and representational opportunities for students. The Students' Union leads on events that celebrate the diversity of the student body including Black History Month, LGBT History Month and International Women’s Day. The University, supported by the Union, holds its Celebrate Difference and Diversity Week in April.

Following a campaign by students, the Students' Union is also working closely with the University to ensure that gender neutral toilets are available for students to make use of. Whilst already implemented within Union buildings (where possible) the University is looking at suitable ways to implement these facilities within existing buildings, and to include them in all future building projects.

The International Office provides an Advice facility tailored for the needs of international students, including visa information and a welcoming service. However, due to so many conflicting activities during the first few weeks, it’s often difficult to offer a suitable induction for international students with many opting to not attend due to programme or faculty based activities. The structure of the academic year, especially January programme starts, is a particular difficulty for international students due to the high cost of airfares over Christmas and New Year and visa restrictions.

 

 
 
 
 
Life as a Student at the University of Greenwich


Students report a high level of satisfaction with the University of Greenwich student experience, notwithstanding significant areas of concern—identified above.

Though University can be hard work, it’s a lot of fun too: Strongly Agree + Agree 77.4%.

Students' Union Survey 2014 Q18

The Students’ Union works hard to ensure that as many students as possible have the best possible time at University, whilst gaining relevant skills and experience to prepare them for life after graduation. Those who have interacted with the Students’ Union often speak of its significant positive impact in terms of making friends, feeling at home, and gaining many different skills in fun ways. However, various challenges prevent the Students’ Union from reaching large numbers of students.

Overall, the Students’ Union has made a positive contribution to my time at the University: Strongly Agree + Agree 62.1%.

Students' Union Survey 2014 Q20
 
 
 
 


Almost all students mention having to hold down one or more part-time jobs whilst studying at the University of Greenwich. This obligation is driven by the high cost of living and limited financial support provided by the University to many of its students. These part-time jobs often stand in the way of the efforts of both the University and Students’ Union in encouraging students to take part in extra-curricula or employability related activities.

A large number of students live off campus and report long travel time to attend University. Journey time and the need for part-time work significantly reduces the amount of time students spend on campus. Reasons given for living off campus primarily focus around the high cost of accommodation, caring or other family related responsibilities at home, or simply not wishing to live in halls of residence.

Their (students’) mean travel time to college can be estimated to be a fairly substantial 40-45 minutes.

2013 -14 Student Experience and Engagement Survey Summary p4

Students speak of three very distinct and separate campuses. Those who live on the Avery Hill campus praise the strong sense of community, but students who primarily spend their time at Greenwich or Medway lack this sense of University community and cohesion, which proves so hard to develop in those students living off campus and / or working part-time jobs.

The separation between the three campuses creates a bad united atmosphere - need integration.

Students' Union Survey 2014 comment 6

The student life at the university is also quite poor in comparison to other universities, with not many activities being carried out, or certainly, advertised to the extent everyone knows about them. I would also say that the university doesn't feel like a community, but this may be down to the fact that there are few student accommodation places on campus and most students' travel to the Medway campus.

NSS 2014 comments line 438
 
 
 
 
Conclusion


Students have a lot to say about their experiences at the University, much of it positive but with some key issues that consistently raise concerns e.g. assessment feedback. This document draws on the voices of thousands of students to capture what has happened to them and how they think things might be improved. What emerges is something that we feel will inform not just the QAA’s Higher Education Review, but also the University’s students for years to come, allowing them to benchmark a comprehensive range of aspects of student life in 2015 and assess progress in the future.