This year’s NSS results were published yesterday and, while we are still looking into the subject level data for the complete picture, it is clear they present a challenging set of results for Kent, with our overall satisfaction score for Full-Time First Degree being 73%. Our students’ views and – more fundamentally – the experience they have with us is of huge importance, so I wanted to update you on the work we are doing to ensure we see steady improvement in this area.
A challenging year for many
As many have acknowledged across the sector, last year was yet again unusual for a number of reasons as we all adapted to the relaxation of Covid restrictions and the return of face-to-face teaching. Both student behaviour and the campus experience itself have undoubtedly changed through the move to more hybrid models of both work and delivery. Our own student surveys present a mixed picture of what aspects of this students have and haven’t liked, and it will take time to work out which shifts are permanent and which are unique to this cohort.
We also cannot avoid the fact that the NSS survey itself ran during a period of industrial action at Kent with an inevitable impact on student sentiment at the time. Notions of student satisfaction are complex, relying on a wide array of individual factors and interactions with staff from across the University and with our facilities and services. However, what is clear is that we have more to do to ensure the effort we put in to support students is felt by them and comes through in what they report back to us.
Improving students’ experience of Kent
There are a number of initiatives already underway to make sure students have the best possible time with us, all of which will be a key priority throughout next year:
- Student Voice and Student Participation will be major areas of focus, with our Head of Student Experience Mica Rose leading work to better embed them in our work. This will include developing our Your Uni, Your Say campaign to ensure we give students quicker feedback on how their views shape our work and exploring the use of Listening Rooms so we get a deeper understanding of what they are looking for
- Our Assessment and Feedback Steering Group will work to put in place a more systemic approach to ensuring all students get timely and supportive feedback from their lecturers – this will be done in conjunction with ongoing work to review the shape of the Academic Year so that we can bring teaching and assessment closer together
- After a very difficult initial rollout, enhanced KentVision functionality is now being added at pace which will help address the initial issues many faced
- We have a number of EDI initiatives with a focus on student experience, including our work on both the Race Equality Charter and the University Mental Health Charter
- We will also focus on building a better sense of belonging for students through a more joined up approach to our communications, following an extensive university-wide review
This work will need to be backed up by robust action plans in specific areas highlighted through the NSS and I will be working with Divisions to ensure these are in place going into next year. We will also set up an NSS Working Group in the Autumn Term led by Mica Rose, our Head of Student Experience and Louise Naylor, our Director of Education, to make sure we get positive engagement from students in the 2023 survey from the start.
Student Experience is a key strand of our University strategy and it is critical that we continually evolve what we do to meet the needs of those who study with us. While yesterday’s results make for difficult reading, I know just how much this matters to all of us across the University and look forward to working with many of you to build on activity underway to get things moving in the right direction.
With all good wishes,
Professor Richard Reece | DVC Education & Student Experience