This ‘SPOTLIGHT ON’ features a new initiative from the University of the Highlands and Islands that aims to gain feedback on key changes that arise from the adjustments made during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recognising that various changes and interventions would be required during the pandemic (notwithstanding that a considerable part of the university’s provision was already online or blended learning) a COVID-19 Student Panel was created.
The aim of the panel is to provide a sounding board and feedback on a variety of individual ideas, policies and changes that have had to be introduced by the university, often at relatively short notice. The panel, consisting of around fifty volunteer students, was recruited from across the university and from all levels of study. The consultation takes the form of occasional emails or video-conference meetings as and when questions and changes arise.
Topics put to the panel have included:
- The impact of studying at home during the pandemic.
- An evaluation of communication methods with students during the pandemic.
- Potential benefits of changes implemented as a result of the pandemic, and how these might be continued in the future.
The university has learned a huge amount from students as a result of consultations with the panel, providing valuable feedback in a number of ways, for instance:
- Students have appreciated the environmental, cost and time savings from not commuting.
- The full range of communications channels (email, social media, online notices) should be used as students each have their own preferred methods of communication.
- Students appreciate enhanced learning materials and opportunities now online.
- Students are happy to read academic quality regulations in their original form and do not wish simplified versions.
The panel’s experiential feedback is distinct from the more involved analytical work done by student representatives throughout the decision-making process. Indeed, the work of reps is highlighted in the university’s recently updated Student Partnership Agreement and new Student Engagement Strategy.
The university will retain the panel through the COVID-19 crisis, and is considering retaining it beyond the pandemic as a new level of student feedback.
For further information, please contact Kevin Sinclair, Student Engagement Manager, University of the Highlands and Islands on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07796 930044; or visit the UHI COVID-19 Student Panel webpage.