What should our future support for students look like?

Students at the Heart (June 15/16) is one of the most anticipated conferences for years at LJMU. Post-pandemic, the event promises to be a barometer of how well we are meeting the student academic need and how quickly the needle is moving on new approaches to teaching and learning in a blended learning, co-creating, highly competitive world.

We asked Professor Phil Vickerman, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience for his thoughts on the event.

Phil, what are the objectives of the conference?

The aim is to bring together the best of LJMU’s Teaching and Learning and Professional Service practice that has a direct impact on the student experience. We want to recognise and celebrate how all LJMU staff play an important role in delivering an outstanding student experience and to debate what our future support to students should look like, and how we will deliver on these aspirations. There will be showcases of some of our current and new approaches to student enhancement and we must also discuss how we ensure our  new values - student-centred, community, inclusivity and courageousness.er LJMU community - have a positive impact on our students. 

How important is it that we share our learning about teaching and the student experience?

We have fantastic staff who are totally committed to ensuring each every student has the best experience during their time at LJMU.  It’s important we take time throughout the conference to hear about great practice in order that we then learn from each other. A key feature of the conference for me is celebrating how professional services support teaching and learning both inside and outside of the curriculum. If our students are to have an outstanding university experience we need to ensure we connect all that is good within the curriculum, the broader student support and guidance services, and the important work of JMSU.

How can professional services and academic delivery staff best work together to enhance student learning and employability?

I often talk about ‘every student contact counts’ and this is true whether it is a colleague in professional services or our academic staff. We all have unique skills sets and experiences that we need to bring to our students and by recognising all our contributions this is what delivers positive outcomes for our students. I am committed to ensure we better connect our academic, professional services, and JMSU activities to provide a unified support to our students. Students come to university for many reasons – to study a subject they are passionate about, to have a good social experience and make friends, and to guide students through the highs and lows of university life. We cannot do this in isolation from each other and this is why the conference is critical in  bringing this together. We also want our students to leave LJMU with great job opportunities and providing a rich and diverse programme will help us all achieve this.

Give us a flavour of the sessions that are on offer at the Conference next week

We have over 70 sessions during the two days, so there will certainly be something for everyone. We have sessions that will be jointly delivered by staff and students and external stakeholders on a rich and diverse set of topics. This includes learning, teaching, and assessment within the curriculum, digital and technological innovation, our new university values, work on our civic agenda, health and wellbeing, employability, and the student voice. Each day starts with a key note speaker, kicking off on day one with Paul Nolan, LJMU Honorary Fellow talking about sustainability, This is followed on day two by Garth Dallas, CEO of Dallas Consulting who will talk about the important role universities play in the civic and economic life of our City-Region and beyond.

What is your message to staff about going the extra mile for students?

I’ll re-emphasise ‘every student contact counts’ and each and every one of us have a vital role to play in getting our students to Graduation. Students remember great service, great teaching, and a great sense of community and belonging. If we deliver this from all our interactions with students and ensure our engagements are meaningful we will show we genuinely care about our students success. This not only benefits our students but also gives us pride in the jobs we do and it also raises the recognition that LJMU is a great place to study and work.

Please tag us in any social media posts you share from the conference using @ljmu or #LJMU along with #SATHC22 and #studentsattheheart


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