The University of Greenwich is a place where students discover new talents and gain valuable life experiences to help them graduate with the skills they need to meet the demands of today’s fast-changing workplace.
The University of Greenwich is one of the top 3% of universities in the world. They have an excellent and growing reputation for the high quality of their research and teaching. It’s no surprise when at the core of their mission is to “transform lives through inspired teaching and research”.
Like most universities, the University of Greenwich needed to address the challenge of not knowing about important student issues as they occurred, and they struggled with closing the feedback loop. There was also a wider issue around a lack of engagement from student representatives, which led to many complaints that could have been easily resolved with earlier interventions if reps had engaged with the department staff more often.
This was a particular problem in The Department of Creative Professions and Digital Arts (DCPDA), which has around 1,000 students across 8 Undergraduate and 2 Postgraduate courses. During the 2014-15 academic year, the institution had almost completed the development of a multi-million-pound new building for subject areas including graphic design, animation, film, TV production, media, digital design and web design.
New students were inducted into this incomplete building, and existing students were moved here from elsewhere on the estate. This resulted in very low levels of satisfaction.
“We’ve always tried hard to engage students as much as possible, both in terms of the feedback they’ve experienced and also in terms of them engaging with their studies. We’ve done that usually through student representation committee meetings and those have produced some benefits but also some disadvantages. Often you’ll get students reporting back their own concerns, which may not be representative of the whole group but also that happens not necessarily as the problems are arising. We have an opportunity with Unitu to solve and resolve those problems as they arise.”
With a focus on making and sustaining significant improvements for the following academic year, we were approached to discuss a potential solution. We help institutions improve the student experience by allowing them to collect and act on student feedback in real time and we are always willing to create pilot projects to assess the effectiveness of Unitu within a particular setting.
In 2015, the Department of Creative Professional and Digital Arts decided to be the first to pilot Unitu, with just under 1,000 students across all taught programmes. They experienced a number of challenges around the student experience in the previous year, which had a negative impact on their student satisfaction scores.
Their goal was to improve student satisfaction and build a better dialogue with students so they understood the issues.
In the first year of rolling Unitu out, they experienced 47% student account activation and 90% of student reps engaging with the platform.
In 2015/16 approximately 50% of the 900 students in the pilot Department raised 48 issues, of which 42 were swiftly and fully resolved. Feedback posts (>100) have more than doubled in the second pilot year in a shorter time frame.
In the following year, they achieved just under 60% account activation, with 174 posts created across the academic year. They embedded a full implementation of Unitu, including it in their student induction, running the rep elections through Unitu and providing specific rep training sessions.
“Dialogue element of Unitu means that students understand what staff are doing about it, when they are doing things about it and that closes that feedback loop and that eases a lot of the frustration that students feel.”
“With Unitu, we don’t have to wait for those formal face-face meetings have with student reps; the dialogue is ad-hoc, it’s ongoing, and stuff can be resolved within days if it’s within our power to do that.”
The overall impact of the pilot persuaded the institution to roll out Unitu across more faculties and subject areas. Engagement remains positive, and the institution has seen a number of benefits:
“The number of direct complaints to me has reduced very significantly as a result of people being able to air their grievances on Unitu in an appropriate way and have those resolved. It’s a very efficient way to resolve very small problems before they turn into very big problems and that’s really good for the University, that’s really good for student experience in the future.”
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