Sue Rigby: We’re learning lessons in effort to make the grade

Edinburgh University graduates celebrate
Edinburgh University graduates celebrate
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The results of the latest National Student Survey, which have been recently reported in the press, do not at first glance make happy reading for Edinburgh University.

Student satisfaction levels – particularly with regard to assessment and feedback – are way too low for our liking and these concerns must be addressed, but the broader picture is an incredibly positive one as far as the student experience is concerned.

The university continues to perform well in the National Student Survey in areas such as general satisfaction, employability and teaching.

Overall student satisfaction in the latest survey is 83 per cent. While they are here, students are taught by some of the best researchers in their field.

It is my responsibility to make sure that students get what they need from us. I have been working closely for some time with representatives from the students’ association to address any concerns they might have.

So what are we doing?

The university has recently invested £4 million as part of its ongoing efforts to improve the student experience and overhauled the pastoral and academic care that we offer students.

From this year, each student will have a personal tutor to help them navigate the complicated world of the university and thrive here. The system is new and it will take a while to bed in, but we are optimistic that it will make a real difference to our students’ experience.

We are spending another £3.2m enhancing the support students receive, from information points set up in the main libraries to enhanced induction, study support and help with personal development.

We are also investing heavily in the buildings and infrastructure that are needed for students to learn to the best of their ability. A new library at King’s Buildings and a £60m refurbishment of our Main Library in George Square has resulted in a huge increase in student use.

Away from the classroom, students at Edinburgh also have access to one of the best student unions in the UK and the country’s leading sports facilities. All well and good, but we also hear the clear message that our students need more and that we need to deliver more.

In order to understand what is required clearly, we are setting up a survey unit so that we can find out what we needs to change and how we need to develop our learning and teaching to meet student expectations.

We are also asking external experts to look at us with fresh eyes and give us their advice on how we can improve our feedback to students.

Edinburgh is a great university and our students deserve the best. We add value to the local and global economies, generate knowledge for the good of wider society and we produce graduates who are valued by employers.

Our students have the skills and knowledge to thrive in a very cold jobs climate and we do everything we can to help them in their quest for work after graduation.

At Edinburgh, students can expect to encounter sector-leading initiatives, such as the Edinburgh Award, that enables them to develop the attributes that employers value.

But we need to understand the complicated needs of these students whilst they are studying with us, and to address these with clarity and honesty.

We are confident that the new measures we have taken to enhance student support will do much to build on the work we’ve already put in place.

Our students deserve to feel proud of being a part of our university. It is regularly ranked as one of the world’s leading universities. We want them to know that we are committed to ensuring that their experience as a student here should be second to none.

• Sue Rigby is vice-principal of learning and teaching at Edinburgh University.

PAR FOR THE COURSE?

BEST

UNIVERSITIES FOR TEACHING

1. The Open University

2. Cambridge University

3. Harper Adams University College, Shropshire

4. Heriot-Watt University

5= Exeter University

5= Oxford University

5= Buckingham University

8. Chichester University

9. Newman University College, Birmingham

10= Surrey University

10= Winchester University

worst

UNIVERSITIES FOR TEACHING

125. Edinburgh University

124. London Metropolitan

123. Westminster University

122. School of Oriental and African Studies, London

121. Glasgow Caledonian University

120. Kingston University

119. Southampton Solent University

118. King’s College London

116= Abertay Dundee University

116= City University, London