Category 1 ~ University Impact

An initiative delivered by a students’ association, or led by a students’ association in partnership with their university, which has had a significant impact on enhancing the student learning experience

Winner:

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Peer Learning and Support at Edinburgh
~ Edinburgh University Students’ Association and The University of Edinburgh

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Runners-up:

RATE Awards: Recognising Best Practice that Enhances the Entirety of the Teaching and Learning Process
~ University of Stirling Students’ Union and the University of Stirling

The Student Voice
~ Glasgow School of Art Students’ Association and Glasgow School of Art

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Read more about all three submissions...

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Peer Learning and Support at Edinburgh
~ Edinburgh University Students’ Association and The University of Edinburgh

Through partnership working between Edinburgh University Students’ Association and the University, Peer Learning & Support opportunities for students has seen significant growth. Established in 2012 with just 6 student-led projects and one staff member, the initiative has significantly grown with a Department of Peer Learning & Support established in 2015 and over 50 projects run across the university for 2018-19 which are led by ~ 750 trained student volunteers. They also work in close partnership with staff within the University. For each project, they identify and support a staff contact whose role it is to help the students run and grow the Scheme. Staff contacts play a vital role in providing a link to the School, and embedding the project.

Two types of projects are offered to students: Peer Learning Schemes, and Peer Support Schemes. Most of the Peer Learning Schemes are Peer Assisted Learning Sessions, ‘PALS’ Schemes, where trained students in higher years (PALS Leaders) plan and facilitate study sessions for students in lower years to support students to develop their own study techniques. Peer Support Schemes encompass either a one to one mentoring model, or ‘Academic Families’/ ‘Buddies’ promoting wellbeing and building community within the Schools and wider University.

Peer Learning & Support has had a hugely positive impact upon the student learning experience at Edinburgh and the projects are hugely popular and well attended. In 2017-18, there were 12064 instances of attendance across all events, with an average of 16 attendees per session. Satisfaction rates are also high, with 97% of those surveyed reporting that they would recommend Peer Learning & Support to a friend. Participant’s reported “joining PALS was the best thing I did at University’.

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RATE Awards: Recognising Best Practice that Enhances the Entirety of the Teaching and Learning Process ~ University of Stirling Students’ Union and the University of Stirling

The Recognising and Advancing Teaching Excellence (RATE) Award scheme was first introduced by Stirling Students' Union in 2010 and is one of the oldest student-led teaching awards in Scotland. RATE was created from the Union's desire to recognise the excellent quality of teaching at the University of Stirling and to provide students with the opportunity to identify areas of good practice within their learning experience. A key element of RATE is that support staff are also nominated and celebrated through categories such as ‘Exceptional Student Support Award’ and ‘Outstanding Admin’.
In addition, the data from RATE provides both the University of Stirling and the Students’ Union with an invaluable insight into learning and teaching, which cannot be underestimated.

The RATE awards have been highlighted in Stirling’s 2015 Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR) and was named as one out of their 6 ‘Areas of Positive Practice’. The awards are also linked to the annual learning and teaching conference, which provides an opportunity to celebrate and share good practice. A Teaching Fellow from the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport summed up the value of RATE to staff members at the University:

“The RATE Awards are exceptional and being nominated reminds you of just what you do achieve through hard work and to the people that matter – the students… It is a wonderful feeling when students take the time to nominate you and it is greatly appreciated”

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The Student Voice
~ Glasgow School of Art Students’ Association and Glasgow School of Art

The Student Voice project encompasses a range of projects developed to enhance Glasgow School of Art’s approach to student partnership working. Key to this work was the revitalisation of the student representative system with the creation of a new Lead Rep role to act as a conduit between class representatives and senior management teams. Lead Reps are also responsible for facilitating and leading a School Forum where all students can meet with their Head of School to discuss areas of shared concern. These forums are mirrored by the well-established Director’s Forum which provides all students with an opportunity to meet with the institution’s Director (Principal) and Executive team.

Wider Student Voice work also focused on enhancements to the university’s response to student feedback. An institution wide campaign, ‘Collective Thinking, Collective Working’, was launched to promote enhancement projects which had been developed in response to student feedback. A key part of the Student Voice work also saw GSA launch their first ever Student Experience Survey. The survey was designed to align with the NSS and provide opportunities for specific questions in the context of the creative arts student experience.

The Collective Working, Collective Thinking Campaign blog received over 800 unique visitors within the first 3 days of its launch and 500 students took part in the first GSA Student Experience Survey within ten days of opening. Feedback provided through the survey was detailed and of high quality, providing useful insights. The Lead Rep role has also had a hugely positive impact with one UG Lead Reps for 2017-18 stating: “My role as Lead Rep required me to work closely with the Class Reps … this also helped bring to light the main issues that were recurring… and meant that the staff were more responsive as I could bring the collated opinions of the student body to them”.

Student Engagement Framework
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