With Autumn term behind us and the academic year well underway, we look back at some of the positive changes at the school, especially those that are a direct response to your feedback.
For some time students have been asking the School if there could be more space to study as well as a common room to provide a space to relax and to build a bit of community spirit. With our move to Keynes – a fantastic new location with Dolche Vita, K-bar, and pond (look out for the ducklings in Spring!) – this has now become possible. Dr Ben Turner has put some great effort into making the common room a comfortable one where you can put your feet up with friends. The poster boards and plasma screens are also up-to-date with the latest information regarding your reps, mentors, and various School/Divisional activities. The accompanying hub (C1.07) is full of new desks and chairs for you to meet and study with friends.
“The POLIR Common Room is truly an ideal environment for politics students regardless of year group. It’s compact enough to independently study but also has enough space to have a study group session with other course mates. You aren’t far from your tutors who are always willing to support you. Personally, this is a perfect spot for me as it is near social spaces like K-Bar and Dolche Vita for much-needed breaks, as well as the Keynes bus stop if you want to head into town or go home after you study.” Student feedback
You told us that you were unsure where to find information regarding your course and your modules, so we have completely revised the PolIR Student Guide (DP6500) on Moodle so that it is clearer and more comprehensive, offering you a first port of call for information about the School and your course. The page includes information to help you with essay writing, including recorded workshops, guidance to get the most from your Academic Advisor, and the School’s Padlet calendar of events so that you can stay on top of what is going on.
You asked us for more timetabled supervisory sessions, a greater sense of a shared research process and a more refined way of encouraging reflection on the key moments of the process (topic, project outline, conference presentation and submission). Supervisors now meet supervisees as a group so that these latter aspects can be discussed together, experiences shared, problems discussed with a greater eye for sub-disciplinary issues than can be given in the umbrella module.
We are always being asked to provide more opportunities for skills development or exam support, so we have improved and developed our offering from SLAS to meet your requirements and concerns – see the HSS Student Guide for recordings of these sessions – we’ve developed very well received exam preparation sessions, and last term was the launch of our new APM group study sessions, including support from SLAS and our Library Liaison to help you improve your referencing and make the most of library resources while you study.
Student Voice Forums this year have been full of enthusiasm and activity, and it has been great to have them face-to-face again after the pandemic. The School has been pushing to rebuild a sense of on-campus community with a variety of events, social and academic – these include our ‘Understanding…’ event series: on Ukraine and the Cost of Living crisis, as well as our annual celebration of Mulled Wine and Mince Pies to gather at the end of term. Ben Turner has been supporting the PolIR academic society to build its numbers and generate activity.
And already we’re off to a really great start to the new term with returning POLIR alumna Abena Oppong Asare MP, visiting from her constituency Erith and Thamesmead, in conversation with Dr Nadine Ansorg on January 27th.
We couldn’t have focused on the changes you needed without hearing your feedback through the various channels available to us, including the NSS and Student Voice Forums. So we’ve asked one of our Division’s reps to tell us about their experience so far this year.
What it means to you being a rep?
It means that I can have a platform to share concerns or proposals to improve our relationships with our professors and to do better in our modules.
How have you enjoyed the journey so far?
I have enjoyed it a lot since I met new people through being a rep, whom I can work together to help our fellow students.
What is the most rewarding experience, so far, being a rep?
The most rewarding experience for me personally is the opportunity to attend staff and academics meetings, where I can listen to various internal problems or suggestions and that way, I can understand better the situation and propose new effective solutions.
How did the Student Voice Forum go and what you feel it brings to the school community?
The Student Voice Forum went well and I appreciated the effort being put by our Student Experience Coordinators. They really care to listen to our feedback and they do try their best to make a change for the better! Without them it would have been really hard for our voices to be heard.
Do get in touch with our reps if you have any concerns or suggestions, consider becoming a rep yourself, and make sure you complete the NSS so that future students can continue to benefit from the feedback!
Find your reps here: Find My Rep | Kent Union
Complete the NSS here: National Student Survey : National Student Survey (thestudentsurvey.com)