Introduction from Dr Anne Loweth, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students)

This strategic vision articulates our commitment to delivering an outstanding student experience. It takes a holistic approach, drawing together all those elements of the University’s enabling strategies, such as education, research, estates, sustainability and health and well-being, that collectively contribute to our Keele student experience.

We have drawn on many examples of sector best practice, and have been informed by feedback from our own students and elected student representatives, working in partnership with our two students’ unions, KeeleSU and Keele Postgraduate Association.

To accompany this strategic vision, we have developed a resource for all colleagues to use when planning and designing any process, service or policy that may impact on the student experience, to help answer the question, “How will this affect our students?”. This resource is a set of student personas – sixteen fictional characters representing, as closely as possible, the full range of personal, family, academic circumstances and characteristics that we see in our whole student body, across all types and levels of study. These personas have been developed through consultation with students, KeeleSU and Keele Postgraduate Association representatives and academic and student support staff, ensuring that the personas contain many of the real-life experiences and concerns that we know our students have experienced. Their use can help us fulfil our commitment to delivering an outstanding student experience for all our students.

Anne_Loweth


Student Experience Strategic Vision

Our vision and purpose

We are passionate about, and committed to, delivering an outstanding student experience. Our purpose is to support our students at every stage of their Keele journey, from the first time they encounter us - perhaps in a prospectus - to when they leave us to take the next steps in their lives and careers. We want our students to develop as global citizens, aware of world-wide issues and understanding their potential to influence and effect change in their local and global communities. Our student-centred approach and commitment to partnership with our students, and their representatives, our two Students’ Unions (Keele University Students’ Union (KeeleSU) and the Keele Postgraduate Association (KPA)), is fundamental to achieving our vision of helping our students to achieve their full potential.

We want our students’ time at Keele to be transformational, with students engaging as cocreators in all aspects of their Keele experience. We recognise that fulfilling their potential goes far beyond achieving their best academically and that there are many measures of success, uniquely blended for every individual. We want Keele to be a community where students can develop their identity, to become confident, responsible citizens and life-long learners, with a rich set of skills and experiences that maximise their employability. To achieve this, we strive to provide a safe, inclusive community for all students and staff, which promotes a sense of belonging, a healthy lifestyle and opportunities for students to contribute across the full spectrum of their academic, social and civic lives.

Scope

The student experience encompasses every aspect of students’ time studying at Keele, and extends beyond graduation as they begin their careers. Whatever their studies and circumstances, it is essential that we take a holistic approach to supporting our students. Hence this strategic vision draws on a number of University strategies that, considered together, articulate our approach to all areas of our students’ university life, underpinned by the University’s overarching strategy, Our Future.

Our Keele community is the cornerstone of the student experience. We will continue to uphold and promote our core values to make our community as supportive,
inclusive and safe as possible. 

First and foremost, we aim to provide a community of respect and acceptance of the diverse cultures, characteristics, faiths and beliefs of all members of our community;

We will not tolerate bullying, harassment, hate crime, racism, sexual violence or discrimination in any of its forms;

We aim to provide safe, welcoming and fit-for purpose facilities, supporting our physical and digital community, on- and off-campus, ensuring that our facilities and resources develop to reflect the needs of our expanding and diversifying community;

We will continue to embed sustainability in all our activities.

Key priorities
Continue to respond in an agile and flexible way to restrictions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring that our approach to education delivery, campus facilities and services and student support continues to provide an excellent student experience through the implementation of Keele’s five-stage framework of operation.

Adopt and promote our values for all members of the university community to respect and adhere to through, for example, our Bullying and Harassment, Religion and Belief and Student Transgender Policies;

Continue our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion through key initiatives such as Athena SWAN Charter and Race Equality Charter work, promoting gender and race equality, respectively;

In partnership with KeeleSU and the KPA, refresh and relaunch our #NeverOK campaign;

Work with students as co-creators, provide appropriate digital infrastructure and tools to support students’ study and life at Keele, whether on campus or studying remotely;

Continue our commitment to working with partners, internal and external, to deliver high standards of accommodation, transport links and provision of services e.g. catering;

Provide responsible campus developments and policies to achieve our target of being carbon-neutral by 2030.

The heart of our approach to the student experience is working in partnership with students and their representatives. We will ensure that our decisions are informed by students’ views and opinions, through mutual, respectful dialogue between the University, our student body and student representatives.

We will continue:

Working in a close and productive partnership with KeeleSU) and the KPA to support all our students in achieving their full potential, as articulated in our Partnership Agreement;

Working with KeeleSU and the KPA to maximise opportunities for student representation across the University, and programme-related external partnerships such as the NHS, actively listening to and, wherever possible, acting on student feedback;

Working with KeeleSU and the KPA to improve PGT and PGR representation;

Engaging with students as co-designers when reviewing our curricula and support mechanisms;

Working with students, KeeleSU and the KPA to improve methods of communication and consultation over student-related issues e.g. supporting the continuation of KeeleSU’s Speak Week initiative;

We will make use of our student personas, where appropriate, as part of our planning and review these periodically to ensure that they remain representative of our whole student population.

Key priorities:

Development of the student voice representative role to include initiatives such as the Keele100 consultative panel, for student voice input on University-wide issues;

Develop a catalogue of regular feedback opportunities, to capture systematically students’ views on key elements of the student experience;

Work with our academic staff to support KeeleSU in the recruitment of Student Voice Representatives to ensure all programmes are fully represented.

We recognise that moving into higher education is a major transition for students and that, at different times during their time at university, they will need different types of
guidance and support, depending on their stage of study and personal circumstances.

We aim to make sure that appropriate support is available to students when they need it by:

Providing additional hardship funding to support Covid-19-related student needs;

Providing additional mental health support for students throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly for those students working in the NHS with Covid-19 patients;

Providing students with efficient, accessible and responsive administrative and support services;

Continually developing processes, services and interventions that better support students, including those with specific needs such as disabilities (recognising these may be invisible as well as visible), caring responsibilities and those commuting to campus;

Through the Health and Wellbeing strategy, promoting equality of physical, intellectual, emotional, social and mental health and providing a coordinated response to help students develop robust skills for managing their health and well-being and personal development;

Through the Careers and Employability Service, providing coordinated support through all stages of the student lifecycle, from applying to university, succeeding in their studies and progressing to employment.

Key priorities:

Continued commitment to supporting students through robust processes, including Exceptional Circumstances, Support to Study, Fitness to Study processes and disability support;

Delivery of a sector-leading student mental health support programme, supported by the Office for Students (Ofs) Challenge Fund;

Review of student support processes, through implementation of the OneKeele project; 

Continued support of the Students’ Unions in promoting their welfare services across the Keele community.

Every student’s journey is unique. We will strive to ensure that our processes facilitate every aspect of the student journey, from first applying to study to Keele, through students’ time here and after they graduate and start their careers by:

Supporting students’ transitions into, through and out of university, as they develop their careers;

Investigating and developing interventions to overcome barriers to student access to Higher Education;

Providing effective induction and support mechanisms for postgraduate students, recognising they have particular transition support needs as they enter and progress through their studies;

Providing a welcoming and supportive environment for international students, enriching Keele’s student experience through a diverse, global community;

Providing comprehensive and inclusive programme, school and institutional induction processes;

Engaging with, and providing support to, recent graduates and develop long-standing relationships with alumni. 

Key priorities:

Implement institutional action plans to ensure that all students, whatever their background and characteristics, have the opportunity to do their best;

Develop digital services to assist students in managing their time, activities and studies e.g. student journey planner, engagement monitoring, developing the Keele App;

Review our mechanisms of academic student support;

Develop an improved induction week, increasing opportunities for students to engage with fellow students and staff on their programme during their early days at Keele;

We want our students to achieve their best academically and socially whilst at Keele. We aim to give students the opportunities they need to become well-rounded
citizens, honing their graduate skills, attributes, attitudes and values by: 

Through the Education Strategic Vision, providing and promoting diverse forms of academic support within and beyond the curriculum, embedding all aspects of sustainability and inclusivity, to help ensure students, undergraduate and postgraduate, are equipped with the skills to achieve their best;

Listening actively to and, wherever possible, acting on student feedback with regards to academic delivery and support;

Providing opportunities for co-curricular development, through placement, entrepreneurship, study abroad and civic engagement to augment students’ academic experience;

Delivering research-informed teaching and learning opportunities;

Understanding and acting on demographic gaps in students’ academic performance and employability and develop processes for improvement; 

Working with KeeleSU and the KPA to support and expand extra-curricular activities, including volunteering, sports and cultural activities, recognising their important role in developing and supporting our students’ sense of belonging, their network of peer support and development of lifelong friendships, and their employability.

Key priorities:

To deliver a flexible, blended educational experience throughout the Covid-19-imposed social distancing restrictions, that supports students in achieving their best;

Continue our work to make our curricula more inclusive, through the Race Equality Charter action plan e.g. decolonising the curriculum;

Work to eliminate attainment gaps between groups of students through schools’ Access and Participation action plans e.g. BAME; mature;

Work with KeeleSU and the KPA to improve the support of students studying or living off-campus e.g. CEC students;

Work closely with KeeleSU and the KPA to implement policies as effectively as possible e.g. keeping Wednesday afternoons free to encourage more students to participate in
sport and other well-being activities;

Maximise opportunities for more students to work with regional employers, organisations and communities, enabling civic impact within the ‘New Keele Deal’.

When our students graduate, we want them to be employment- or self-employment ready, confident in their abilities and able to succeed in a competitive employment environment, to progress in their chosen career. We want students to develop as lifelong learners and responsible citizens, contributing fully to their communities, locally, nationally and globally.

We aim to:

Ensure that university graduation ceremonies celebrate the legacy and tradition of the University in a manner that respects the needs of, and celebrates, our diverse community of students;

Provide students with quality-assured, comprehensive careers education, information, advice and guidance and employment advice, during their time as students and as alumni;

Work with students to develop their employability and enable them to articulate the value of their skills, attributes, behaviours and experience to future employers and other opportunity providers.

Key priorities:

To provide additional support to students in developing their employability skills, in response to the impact of Covid-19 on graduate employability nationwide;

Provision of hierarchical careers information, advice and guidance service delivery model based on:

  1. Digital interaction
  2. One-to-many interaction (group work) e.g. Career management modules within the curriculum
  3. One-to-one interaction e.g. confidential discussions

Provision of Keele Careers Online – 24/7 digital career support (available to current students and alumni);

Prioritising personalised provision of careers advice (careers guidance is available to alumni for 3 years after graduation);

Developing career management modules within the curriculum;

Promoting students’ engagement with employers and the local and regional communities via student placements, internships and projects (alumni are welcome to attend events for 3 years after they graduate);

Helping students to develop transition skills as they move into employment;

Helping students develop their social capital and networking opportunities, particularly those from areas of disadvantage;

Continuing to develop and promote our Keele Connect Mentoring Platform (supports alumni as well as students);

Encouraging students to consider enterprise and entrepreneurship opportunities through business start-up advice and grants, dedicated acceleration space, a freelancer hub and boot camps.

Relevant key performance indicators include student success, attainment and progression, encompassing metrics on retention, progression and degree awards; student satisfaction and well-being and employer engagement, including graduate employment figures and numbers of students taking up placements and internships.
Feedback from students, both our own and across the Higher Education sector, are also key in understanding if the Keele student experience is as good as it can be and to help us strive to improve it continually. We use a variety of feedback mechanisms to listen to the student voice, including:

  • Internal Keele surveys and feedback mechanisms
  • Module and programme evaluation questionnaires
  • Feedback through Student Voice Representatives and elected KeeleSU and KPA representatives
  • KeeleSU’s Speak Week
  • The National Student Survey (NSS)
  • The Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES)
  • The Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES)
  • Graduate Outcomes Survey
  • The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) Student Experience Survey
  • National student housing survey

Oversight of the student experience, strategic vision, and the Implementation of specific actions arising from it, will be carried out by the Student Education Experience Sub- Committee, chaired by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students), reporting annually through formal University committee structures to Senate and Council.