Representing Your Academic Interests

Read our Student Voice Report

If you have any questions about the report, or want to get involved in helping make this happen, you can become a Student Rep, or get involved in the Activist Network.

Student Voice Report

Here at your Guild, one of our most important jobs is working with you to improve the student experience and representing your academic interests to the University. We’ve listened to everything you’ve told us over the last few months to write our annual Student Voice Report, which outlines the key things we want to improve in the academic experience here at Birmingham.

This year, the report has 5 main themes, each with recommendations to inform the University about how they can work towards improving over the course of 2022.

The 5 Themes Are:

Improving Assessments and Feedback
Building a More Inclusive Community for Black Students
Building a More Inclusive Community for Disabled Students
Student Voice on Campus
A Better Academic Community for Postgraduates

1. Improving Assessments and Feedback

Over the last 12 months, you’ve told us that your academic feedback hasn’t been on time or of the quality you’d expect. Part of this is down to the move to online assessments due to Covid, which have been a new experience for everyone.

What we're asking the University:

  • Provide clearer information about when your assessments will be and making sure assessments aren’t clumped together
  • Provide clearer guidelines around assessment criteria, how your assessments are moderated, what to expect in online assessments and information about appeals and academic integrity
  • Undertake a full University review into the design of assessments, including options for formative and “real world” assessment over the course of this academic year
  • Provide options for you to feedback on your assessments at both College & School level

What your Guild are doing (update as of 06/12/21):

Your Officer Team have been working to secure these changes across the University, and some individual colleges are already providing additional assessment support and mock exams to help students prepare and understand assessment criteria.

2. Building a More Inclusive Community for Black Students

Black students at UoB are:

  • 15% less likely than white students to feel part of the UoB community
  • 20% less likely to say the course content is interesting or that their workload is manageable
  • 17% less satisfied with their career prospects than their white counterparts

The Awarding Gap is also a problem at UoB, which means that Black students are less likely to be awarded a 1st class or 2.1 degree than white students. This isn’t okay!

What we're asking the University:

  • Schools and Colleges should work with groups of Black and Ethnic Minority students to give feedback on course content and delivery, and to ensure that the curriculum is diverse
  • Careers Network should engage with Black students to improve their support
  • The University and Guild should work to make extracurricular life more welcoming to Black students

What your Guild are doing (update as of 06/12/21):

  • We've been working with the Careers Network, who have agreed to engage with black students to improve their support 
  • Your Officer Team continue to lobby for wider changes and for schools and colleges to engage directly with Black and Ethnic Minority students.  In some places this has already been happening.  In others, there is still work to be done
  • The first 'Be The Change' workshop has happened, with another scheduled for Monday 6th December.  'Be The Change' is a workshop designed  to understand why black students are considerably less satisfied with clubs and societies, and what clubs and societies can do to be more inclusive.  Feedback from the first workshop has been positive
  • The Black Voices campaign continues to go from strength to strength.  They recently met with student reps to discuss how to achieve changes to the curriculum

3. Building a More Inclusive Community for Disabled Students

Disabled students at Birmingham are much less satisfied with their experience than non-disabled students, and this satisfaction gap is much bigger than at other Universities. Disabled students have told us that their access needs are not being fairly accounted for, that welfare services don’t work for them, that their feedback isn’t listened to, and that advice and guidance relating to their studies isn’t working for them.

What we're asking the University:

  • To train all student-facing staff on the needs and rights of Disabled students
  • A review of Reasonable Adjustment Plans, with Disabled students as key partners in this project
  • A clear process for Disabled students to raise concerns about the implementation of their RAP

What your Guild are doing (update as of 06/12/21):

The Disabled Students' Commission Report has been published, and your Officer Team are now working on securing the recommendations for this report.  On Tuesday 7th December, we will be holding a 'Raising Our Voices' event, as part of Disability History Month, to discuss how to make this happen.

4. Student Voice on Campus

You’ve told us that you feel like the University doesn’t listen to your feedback or take your voice seriously. There are over 1,000 Student Reps on campus who work to represent you, and we want to make sure they are supported to work with staff to improve your academic experience. We also want to make sure that the University recognises the importance of the work our Reps, your Officer Team and students do, in working together to make the University better for everyone.

What we're asking the University:

  • To centrally promote the Student Rep System, being clear about how it works, what changes are made and the fact that they system is a partnership between your Guild and the University
  • Staff to be properly trained on the Rep System and its work
  • To create an online Student Voice portal, so you know how your feedback has been responded to

What your Guild are doing (update as of 06/12/21):

The University has agreed to centrally promote the Student Rep system and make the role of Student Reps clearer for students.  We recently conducted a major survey of student opinion on a range of academic issues; your Officer Team will shortly be publishing the findings and the steps they are going to take to implement them.

5. A Better Academic Community for Postgraduates

Given the nature of Covid-19 and the impacts of online learning, creating a sense of community amongst postgraduate students has proven difficult – both academically, and socially. In order to resolve this issue, your Postgraduate Officer – Danielle - is planning to work with the Dean of Postgraduates to improve the social activities, support services and societies for postgrads, ensuring a better integrated university population.

What your Guild are doing (update as of 06/12/21):

Danielle, your Postgraduate Officer, has been working closeley with the Dean of Postgraduates to improve the academic community for postgraduate students.  Extra funding for Postgraduate Ambassadors, to support wider social and community activities has recently been agreed, and Danielle has been working with the Mental Health and Wellbeing Group to tackle Postgraduate specific issues.


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