University news

Changes to the Student Experience Programme, in response to Covid-19

Over the past three years we have been investing in a programme of work to transform the way that you interact with the University and to improve your experience here at Manchester, through our Student Experience Programme. I wrote to you in February to outline some of the many benefits that the Programme will deliver – the first being the introduction of Big White Wall, our 24/7 online mental health and wellbeing platform which arrived earlier this year.

Further changes were planned to be introduced from September 2020 for prospective students and applicants, and again from September 2021 for enrolled students. However, as a consequence of the current global Covid-19 situation, we have regrettably had to temporarily pause some of this activity.

What has changed, and why

The number one priority for our University at this time is to sustain our core University business across teaching, learning and research. We are absolutely focussed on the student experience and are committing all of our efforts to ensuring that we can continue to deliver high quality teaching and learning activities to you via virtual means, so you can progress to the next stage of your studies or complete your programme of study successfully. The pausing of the Student Experience Programme allows us to free up staff resource to focus on these immediate activities, which are of paramount importance to us all.

Members of the Student Experience Programme Board, of which I am the Executive Sponsor and which also has membership from the Students Union, have agreed that under these present circumstances, this is the right thing to do for our students, our staff, and our University.

The Programme Team are now reviewing the original planned activities. A limited amount of activity will continue, but we will not be proceeding with the changes planned for applicants in September 2020. The proposals to change our staffing structures across student marketing and recruitment and applications and admissions have also been paused.

What is continuing

We are absolutely committed to continuing to improve your experience and although timelines have to be revised due to the unprecedented situation we find ourselves in, the Student Experience Programme is still committed to completing this transformative activity.

We are also continuing to involve our students directly with the Programme and are looking forward to having two of our current students join us as Student Partners, to work with us as part of the Programme team over the coming months. These Student Partners will be working to help shape and support our continued student communications and engagement activity.

Some of the future benefits you can still anticipate, include:

  • We’ll reduce the time you spend queuing and waiting in person for services by introducing online self-services for things like obtaining confirmation letters, making payments and changing your bank details. You’ll also be able to make requests and track the progress of cases online for things like mitigating circumstances, complaints and appeals, making things more convenient for you and helping us handle requests faster.
  • You’ll have access to a wider range of support and wellbeing tools and receive help and support more quickly – thanks to increased investment in our support services and smarter use of data across different parts of our University. While some of this support will be online, you’ll still have opportunities for face-to-face advice.
  • You’ll be able to track your work and progress more easily through new dashboards in My Manchester that show you information about your current course units, assessments and research milestones. You’ll also be able to easily contact your academic advisor or supervisor from within My Manchester.
  • You won’t have to remember when to do important actions (like uploading a student card photo or completing registration) – you’ll receive notifications at the right time through a personalised portal in My Manchester.

I will provide further updates, both on the proposed changes to organisational structures, and on the wider programme, over the coming months. In the meantime, if you have any questions, or suggestions on how we can improve your experience, please do get in touch via: studentexperienceprogramme@manchester.ac.uk

Professor April McMahon

Vice President for Teaching, Learning and Students

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