Summary Report of the Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee meeting held on Wednesday 8th March 2017

1. A briefing about referring students to the SU for advice
The Academic and Welfare Advisor, Students’ Union highlighted her role and what support the Students’ Union could provide. The Committee noted that the support offered by the SU was independent of the University, covering a range of issues such as advice on accommodation or helping students to be more prepared in academic misconduct or fitness to practice cases. This was beneficial for students, but more needed to be done to promote awareness of this role, particularly amongst Personal Academic Tutors. Institutes were asked to consider inviting the SU Academic and Welfare Advisor to an Institute staff meeting.

2. An update on the Library Services’ Learner Journeys project
The Team Leader: Academic Services, Library Services provided the Committee with an update on the project which sought to gather data (from all Institutes and as wide a range of subject areas as possible) on the information and study skills that a student brings to university and develops over the course of their degree. The intention is to inform Library Services’ teaching policy and its ‘menu of options’, and potentially contribute to wider applications at institute and institution level. The Committee commended the project and recommended the involvement of Admissions Tutors who may be able to provide further insight on the skills that incoming students are expected to have and the Research School to potentially cover Levels 4 to 8.

3. An update on the Class Cancellation Policy
The Committee considered the amended Class Cancellation Policy, which now incorporated the arrangements for rearranging teaching which fell on Bank Holidays, and recommended that the Policy, which is designed to be tailored to each Institute’s processes/needs, explicitly state that it is customisable and be clear what can and cannot be changed. The Committee also recommended a review on the sections on inclement weather.

4. An update on TEF
The Director of Quality and Educational Development reported that discussions about the next stages of implementing TEF were being led by the DfE. The government had recently announced a decision to extend piloting of subject level TEF and so full implementation would be put back a year. Current discussions are focused on:

a) how subjects would be grouped – the national consensus was looking at between 20 and 70 different subject groupings;

b) the level of influence subject level TEFs would have on the institutional TEF;

c) whether there would be reporting by exception; and

d) the requirement for and nature of subject level TEF provider submissions.

5. A report on the completed ‘First Six Weeks’ project
The Committee noted that the report (based on 38 first year students providing feedback through focus groups) was, overall, very positive with students feeling that induction was well done and that they knew what was expected of them. Areas for development, however, related to international students (who felt that they could have been better prepared) and joint honours students (who felt there was a degree of repetition during induction).

The Committee reflected on the paper and agreed to follow up on its recommendations, particularly in relation to:
a) pre-course preparation/support for international students;

b) developing a streamlined approach to the Joint Honours induction; and

c) formative tasks that involve staff feedback as well as peer feedback (particularly during the early part of a student’s course) and developing a consistent approach to directed study tasks.

6. Monitoring Personal Academic Tutoring
The Committee considered the paper and recommended the amendments to the Personal Academic Tutoring Policy – which related to monitoring only (Section 6 of the Policy) – for approval at Academic Board. The Committee also agreed that all Institutes should ensure that a report on Personal Academic Tutoring is considered at the final meeting of their ILTSEC/Institute Board this academic year, taking account of Course Experience Survey results.

7. To receive updates on University projects
The Head of Strategic Educational Projects provided updates on the:
a) Course Leaders Project – a two year consultative project which had identified a number of actions and recommendations, resulting in the development of the Course Leaders Network (its presence on Blackboard helping it to serve as a self-supporting network, not just a repository) and future developments (for September 2017) in relation to a role descriptor, appropriate rewards and recognitions and guidance on how to work with Academic Support Units (ASUs).

b) Retention Project – it was noted that the Institutes had already implemented a number of actions to address the issue of retention and that Registry Services had been proactive in supporting the identification of Level 4 students who had not returned for Semester 2. The Retention Project sought to build on this work through the University’s involvement in the HEA’s National Retention and Success Project and further developing the use of data; the Personal Academic Tutoring (PAT) System; supporting student module choice, and protocols for monitoring and following up students who appeared not to be engaging.

c) Learner Spaces Project – it was noted that the project had identified some specific actions to improve the utilisation of learning spaces, including the categorization of rooms by learning activity; a timetabling system which allocates rooms to fit the intended learning activities, aided by the aforementioned categorization; and the addition of pictures to the room booking system to aid those selecting rooms.

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