STARS conference 16th November 2011

Stars conference 16-11-11


This conference was organised to give training to the programme reps and give an opportunity for feedback.

The day was introduced by Amish Patel student union vice president,  which was followed by a short speech by the VC Professor Paul Curran. He emphasised the importance of the programme rep role in feedback to ensure a quality student experience.

Layla Gadid an ex student from Teach First gave a motivational speech talking about the importance of self-belief and the need to focus on making small changes in order to achieve the big ones. She emphasised to the students a need for a sense of collectivism and that their contribution may not have an immediate impact but affects students coming after her. She gave the students advice based on the 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey.

  • Be a person of principle and character
  • Beginning with the end in mind
  • First things first

Rae Karimjee ran a workshop on recognition and development. In it she encouraged students to view themselves as change agents
Encouraged the students to view their role as programme reps as an opportunity to gain experience and transferrable skills for the job market. Rae undertook a nice exercise to get students to think about what they need to do to undertake their role as programme reps.

Chris Leonard  the internal communications officer ran a communication and collaboration workshop to discuss working on improving communication with staff and students. He is currently working on an internal communication strategy that will look at building a sense of University identity but also needs to consider challenges in communicating with students without overloading them.

Dr Andrew Oliver’s workshop focussed on approaches to learning to teaching and was probably the most illuminating of the day in terms of students views on teaching styles. This was the first point in the day when a student asked “do the lecturers have any training in teaching?”.Sadly it wasn’t to be the last.
Students reported how much they value group work as it has an impact upon their employability due to the development of transferable skills. Students would like more lectures recorded. Issues about lecturers not controlling students and bad behaviour affecting the learning of other students. Tutorials could be better utilised and they really enhance the learning experience, although there is a risk of them becoming a bit of a chat.

Panel discussion rounded off the day. VC Paul Curran, Usman Ali NUS President , Rob Sully CULSU President, Dominic Passfield QAA student engagement officer. The topic of the discussion was what makes a quality education Usman Ali emphasised that HE enables students to reach their potential. However many students nationally don’t feel prepared for the world of work, HE should be fit for purpose especially for the non traditional students. Students should feel connected with their courses. Again the issue of lecturers being inadequately prepared to teach was raised. Professor Paul Curran countered this with an emphasis on quality and standards. There is a need to achieve a balance between research and education in order to produce quality.
Rob Sully took more personal approach and the  quality of education influences the transitional process from  who you are when you arrive and who you are when you leave. HE is about being a partnership between the student and the University. Domininc Passfield feels that continual comparison with other universities,is unhelpful as universities are very diverse. Students union is the key factor in a quality student experience.

Just to round off the day another student asked the question about whether lecturers should have a teaching qualification as it wasn’t always in evidence in their experience.

Overall this was a really useful day to attend as a lecturer as it was entirely student focussed and I gained a unique perspective on the student experience. It was really professionally organised and the students in attendance seemed Just wish I had come away feeling that the students  thought we were at least qualified to do the job!

Lorna Saunder


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2 thoughts on “STARS conference 16th November 2011

  1. Hi Lorna,
    Thank you for your vignette its good to see the range and breadth of the various sessions by your attendance and I am pleased you found my session of help to the student reps. What one thing did you come away with as a teacher?

  2. Thanks Rae, I think the thing I came away with was a sense that the students really don’t value lecturers being reserach active as much as they do their teaching ability. Students were making comments such as ” our lecturers know a lot about their subject but arent very good at communicating it”.
    It was really good to be in “their” camp for the day as there weren’t very many teaching staff in attendance which meant the students were very open about their opinions of the standard of teaching.

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