This is the final part of a series of four blog posts conceived by Tom Langston and Rugaiya Ally as part of Rugaiya’s work placement within DCQE’s Academic Development and Technology Enhanced Learning teams.
Tom and Rugaiya wanted to explore students’ feelings about higher education and their expectations about life at university, and therefore devised a set of questions to ask students about their experiences. Rugaiya then interviewed 14 fellow students from across the university faculties (with a predominant number studying in the Science and Business faculties) with most studying at Level 5. This series of posts constitutes a condensed summary of the thoughts and opinions of those 14 students.
In part one we investigated what areas of their course students found to be a strength and where they struggled with the progression through their course. In part two we explored student expectations prior to coming to university. In part three we examined students’ attitudes toward their future careers. Finally, here in part 4, we focus on the student’s university experience and how proud they are to be University of Portsmouth students.
Pride in being a student at UoP
The first question I asked was: What makes you proud to be affiliated with your university?
The students said that many areas of the university offer them the chance to feel part of Portsmouth; they referred to “its diversity and inclusivity”.
“The history of the university; it feels good to know I am part of a long chain of people who passed through the same buildings.”
The university provides a space where being part of something bigger than the individual is important: “Recently, the university was in the top 40 for student satisfaction. I agree with that and it makes me proud to be part of this university that’s willing to help the students.”
It is not just the name of Portsmouth that is recognised, but also the people who work here and who offer a sense of community – there is a sense in which they are the true heart of Portsmouth.
“The dedication that some of the lecturers have with the students and how willing they are to interact with them during lessons.”
“I am proud to be affiliated with this university since it made me develop a lot of skills from studying different courses to how they are applied in real life cases thus being confident to what is coming on careers and all programs concerning careers.”
“It’s a great University, top 100 and the architecture course is very well known around the world.”
Ultimately, the support that many students receive through personal tutoring, ASK, their tutors and fellow students is a key point of pride to many: “The help I get from the university is beyond imagination!”
What could be changed?
I then asked: What is something you would change about your university if you had the opportunity?
Current students have a very similar and shared opinions concerning COVID and the pandemic.
One student pointed out how important it is for new students and even current students to be introduced to the Student Support Services – Wellbeing, ASDAC and many others – as these are extremely useful: life at university is not easy! So instead of promoting all those discos and clubs, a major topic during inductions and orientations should be an introduction to Student Support Services.
“I think especially to first years (freshers), the university should make a great effort to introduce them to the different clubs and student support services that are held at the university. This would not only help them with their social skills but it’s a great addition to their CV for placements”.
Another student commented on the feedback system after assignments. Sometimes the feedback is not really helpful, which is why some students do not even turn in their formative assignments for feedback. (This example highlights that the feedback for a group assignment can vary depending on the student.)
“If had to change anything it would be their feedback system, it is not quite efficient for me and also stops giving students different feedback for the same projects”
Would you recommend your course to a friend?
The final question I asked was: Considering your complete experience with our curriculum being taught, how likely would you be to recommend your course to a friend or colleague?
Overall feelings were positive: most students replied with “yes, very likely” and there were some great responses about their university experience.
Each student will have a range of experiences, however. The complete picture they build is a key conclusion to the time spent at university.
“Yes, I would recommend it because, during my two full years at the University of Portsmouth, I have come to appreciate and enjoy modules like finance that I never expected to enjoy.”
While COVID was a major part of the university life of many students, there was a general understanding and appreciation of the work put in by academics. Although one student ranked the overall experience as 5/10 they were clear that the support provided by the university and their tutors was important.
One of the students would recommend the course to others due to the tactics used by the teaching staff at the university, which were helpful in making harder modules and disciplines easier to understand: “I would highly recommend biomedical science to others, pathological science is the main part of biomedical science and the teaching team here at the University of Portsmouth are amazing with incredible teaching tactics which makes it enjoyable and easy to understand, especially haematology and microbiology.”
“I would totally recommend international business and management to my friends and colleagues”.
Another student pointed out how helpful the Psychology department is and that is why the student will recommend others to join psychology at UoP: “I would recommend it and I’d recommend the university because the psychology department is very helpful”.
These comments demonstrate how supportive the University of Portsmouth can be for the students, giving them a sense of pride to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Throughout this series of blogs, Rugaiya interviewed students from a variety of faculties but found that they all had a shared sense of what being part of Portsmouth means. There are of course areas that should be continuously worked on and developed or enhanced but overall the experience that Portsmouth offers is one that elevates the individual and helps them to achieve a sense of personal success and pride.