Wonkhe’s rescheduled Secret Life of Students is all about doing student experience differently. We’ll bring together the research and intel, review everything we learned about students over the past year, and ask what Covid-19 might mean for students, their experience and their outcomes.

It’s about getting beyond the stale debates and case studies and rethinking the student experience – bringing together experts, sector leaders and managers, as well as student leaders and students’ union managers, to forge a new agenda for students.

What does the government’s agenda and associated regulatory regime mean for students? What might major changes to funding, the TEF and the National Student Survey mean for universities and their SUs? If Generation Z treasures “fairness”, how can we respond to strengthen students’ rights? How is teaching and learning changing to adapt to 2020’s socially distanced students? And what does student influence and partnership mean in a world of big data and rapid online pivots?

We’ll also ask how we might get beyond reductive debates on free speech and build a culture of democratic engagement on campus. We’ll find out what happens when we listen to students on their own terms. And we’ll explore what safety means to students, and what “safeguarding” really means in the age of coronavirus.

It’s an essential event for anyone working on policy and delivery for students.

In partnership with:

Wonkhe’s rescheduled Secret Life of Students is all about doing student experience differently. We’ll bring together the research and intel, review everything we learned about students over the past year, and ask what Covid-19 might mean for students, their experience and their outcomes.

It’s about getting beyond the stale debates and case studies and rethinking the student experience – bringing together experts, sector leaders and managers, as well as student leaders and students’ union managers, to forge a new agenda for students.

What does the government’s agenda and associated regulatory regime mean for students? What might major changes to funding, the TEF and the National Student Survey mean for universities and their SUs? If Generation Z treasures “fairness”, how can we respond to strengthen students’ rights? How is teaching and learning changing to adapt to 2020’s socially distanced students? And what does student influence and partnership mean in a world of big data and rapid online pivots?

We’ll also ask how we might get beyond reductive debates on free speech and build a culture of democratic engagement on campus. We’ll find out what happens when we listen to students on their own terms. And we’ll explore what safety means to students, and what “safeguarding” really means in the age of coronavirus.

It’s an essential event for anyone working on policy and delivery for students.

In partnership with:

Planned sessions include:

(timings to be confirmed)

What did we learn about students in the year just gone?

We’re drowning in data about the student experience, but how much insight do we have? Advance HE chief executive Alison Johns and Wonkhe’s Debbie McVitty will reflect on what we learned about students in the past year, along with the questions that the data raises, and what should be done about it in the context of Covid-19.

Delivering for students in, and out of, a pandemic: where OfS goes next

Before Covid-19 hit, the Office for Students was about to move into interesting times, with a new student engagement strategy and consultations coming on harassment and sexual misconduct, admissions, student protection, student contracts and the National Student Survey – and some of that work will reappear in the autumn, along with new action on quality, grade inflation and freedom of speech. In conversation with Wonkhe’s founder Mark Leach, OfS chief executive Nicola Dandridge will discuss OfS’ work in the student interest and the role it sees for students (and their representatives) in informing and shaping its work in the future.

A fairer student experience

Generation Z places huge value and importance in fairness and fair treatment, but do they get that as students? What should all students be entitled to? What rights should students have? When are students treated unfairly, or exploited, and what impacts does that have? Are some students treated more fairly than others? Our panel of experts will set out an agenda for a fairer student experience, identifying actions that universities, SUs and government should take.

How far should “student safety” go?

Much of the contemporary debate surrounding students focuses on safety – feeling safe is surely a prerequisite for learning – but there are significant conflicts over the approach that schools, universities and others should take in relation to being a student at university. Is the right approach to warn students about the dangers they may face? Is work for disadvantaged students sensible or virtue signalling? Should more be done than just warning people – should we help students with tools and skills to navigate those dangers – or is that victim blaming? Should we all be working together to eradicate dangers? And is it possible (or wise) for universities to offer a Covid-19 “safe” campus and experience? This session will feature a preview of research on what students mean by “safety” and give participants a chance to consider policy responses.

International students and their outcomes in an age of Covid-19

Now we have a clearer picture on international student recruitment, we should think about retention and experience. In this session UKCISA’s Strategic Partnerships Lead Yinbo Yu, along with members of UKCISA’s student ambassador team, will review the challenges facing international students in the year ahead and discuss ways in which providers and students’ unions might respond.

The new normal – where did we get to, and where are we going?

Back in May we ran an event on getting to the “new normal”. In this session Team Wonkhe will review where plans to reopen have got to, think through the issues presented by reopening in the medium term, and ask what might be coming next that the working groups will need to plan for.

Don’t drop out, drop in

Non-continuation rates are one of the main ways in which the government says it will be measuring course value, and they’re a key marker of quality for the Office for Students, and embedded into TEF. When students drop out this term, there will be financial clawback next term in England. And lots of people are worried about the human costs of students not making it to Christmas. In this session, a panel of experts will discuss how we can spot, prevent and handle students thinking they’ve made a bad decision this coming term.

The secret life of students’ learning – the journey to autonomy

Higher education at its best supports students to become autonomous learners, equipped to continue to learn into employment and throughout their lives. The focus on contact hours and value for money can obscure the necessary time spent learning independently to support students on that journey. Yet in the absence of fixed schedules and structures during the pandemic many students report they are floundering and losing their motivation to learn – and recognise the value of self-efficacy skills such as time and project management. This session, delivered in partnership with Pearson, will draw on research on students’ perceptions before and after Covid-19 to explore what students want from their universities in support of their independent learning, and how universities might help students on the journey towards autonomy.

Keeping students engaged online

Many universities aspire to build meaningful partnership to engage students in learning. What would it mean to live those values in practice? How can universities articulate what they’re trying to do with the learning environment in a way that makes sense to and includes a diverse group of students? How can they translate and embed those principles in practice? And how can students be active and effective partners in shaping learning and teaching?

Living the partnership

Students are often posited as objects of data – but how do we move them into the role of commissioner, user, and analyser of data? What do terms like “student partnership” and “student engagement” mean in 2020? If there is no single student experience – from which everything is handled via a deficit model approach – how can universities understand and respond to true diversity? What do we know about access and attainment gaps and how do they get closed? And how does understanding students’ lived experience help? A panel of experts will reveal all.

Free speech, pandemic politics and the student experience

For many, a glance at the government might suggest some hostility towards students. Other than nursing bursaries students only got a mention in the manifesto in relation to freedom of speech – and the political chatter and post-poll analysis suggests that students were not exactly core voters for the incoming government. What will it do on “poor value courses”? How does the new administration see students post pandemic? We’ll ask how we might get beyond reductive debates on free speech and “niche activism” and build a culture of democratic engagement on campus, and explore what might be done about the core student experience concerns of day to day costs, student accommodation, value for money and mental health.

Speakers

  • Nicola Dandridge

    CEO, Office for Students

    Nicola Dandridge

  • Alison Johns

    CEO Advance HE

    Alison Johns is CEO at Advance HE

  • Felicity Mitchell

    Independent Adjudicator

    Felicity Mitchell is the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education in England and Wales

  • Ann Olivarius

    Senior Partner, McAllister Olivarius

    Ann Olivarius is a Senior Partner at McAllister Olivarius 

  • Yinbo Yu

    Strategic Partnerships Lead, UKCISA

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  • Jenny Shaw

    Unite Students

    Student Experience Director, Unite Students

  • Libby Farrier-Williams

    Lecturer in Marketing, St Mary's University Twickenham

    your default content

  • Jayne Aldridge

    Chair, AMOSSHE

    Jayne Aldridge

  • Amatey Doku

    Consultant, Nous Group

    Amatey Doku is a consultant at Nous Group

  • Amy Eberlin

    Quality Enhancement Specialist QAA

    Amy Eberlin is Quality Enhancement Specialist at The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education

  • Hillary Gyebi-Ababio

    Vice President (HE), NUS

    Hillary Gyebi-Ababio is Vice President (Higher Education) at NUS. 

  • Jim Dickinson

    Associate Editor, Wonkhe
  • Debbie McVitty

    Editor, Wonkhe

    Debbie McVitty, Editor, Wonkhe

  • Mark Leach

    Editor in Chief, Wonkhe

In partnership with: