The student experience

Some blog posts I find really difficult and take me a really long time write. This particular one has been very hard; I’ve had this very post in different forms in an instance of OpenOffice open on my desktop for the best part of a week. The gist of this is about two jobs currently being advertised at my institution that have been created with the aim to improve the student experience. The aim of the post was to help me think about the idea that projects and initiatives that have the aim to improve student experience are now being funded by institutions themselves and no longer from external sources like EU or JISC projects. During the writing of my post I was hoping to get across a point that institutions perhaps aren’t doing this because they honestly care about people and want to do their best to improve their lives through the experience they receive at university; there was going to be lots of sentences about league tables and I was going to explain that a student at my institution needs different care and attention than a student at a Russell Group University. I was hoping to talk about how the people who get these jobs have a really opportunity to do something that will really have an impact of the life of students, if the employer lets them.

One reason I’m not done very well at writing this post is because I was trying to make the post funny. I may have tried to add a bit of humour because there is a lot to laugh about when it comes to the way the institution thinks about student experience. The jokes weren’t quite piling up like I would have hoped, while I know the staff at my institution really do care about the students there are many things that go that I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry about. The jokes were supposed to play on the fact that as hard the tutors try to help the students there are increasingly ridiculous obstacles in their way.

Presumably I have failed in writing such a humorous post because I am simply not funny. To save myself coming to that realisation I will focus on another reason; I am scared to write anything too negative about my institution. I have a pretty good joke to do with a member a senior staff, an expensive car and a student £30,000 in debt but I don’t know where I’ll end up if I post it. I wonder if there is one member of staff less sitting at their desk this week. I wonder if I told him he should have joined a union.

So while the institution operates in fear what hopes have we really got of giving the student what they really need to improve their lives. Staff may very well really care about individual students but they are struggling against rules, regulations and punishments that dictate their thinking and actions. In an environment of fear how do I critique anything that isn’t directly related to getting a better position on the league table?

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