Could a diverse student cohort support good decision-making in your university?

“Having students as part of a diverse team can really motivate everyone involved”

Over 40,000 students chose to study at The University of Edinburgh last year, and 45% were from outside the UK. One of the major advantages of having a diverse cohort like ours is the wider perspective it brings to the institution, encouraging students to view the future opportunities available to them on a global scale.

Students can bring a fresh perspective to decision-making within an institution, particularly around how to best enhance student satisfaction and improve learning outcomes. That’s why when we decided to make lecture recording available at scale to improve our students’ learning experience, we put students at the heart of our planning.

A fresh perspective

Our rationale for introducing the technology was to support learning and improve the student experience, so it was vital that students were involved from the outset. Third-year Psychology undergraduate, Karoline, originally from Denmark and already a student representative for her School, volunteered.

Having Karoline on board was a great advantage as she had well-articulated opinions on what the new technology needed to deliver from a student’s viewpoint. She helped provide the vital balance needed to prioritise aspects of the solution that was important not just to staff, but to students as well.

Full team member

Through our procurement process and the various rounds of dialogue with potential suppliers, Karoline contributed to the panel discussions and played a key role in agreeing on the final specifications for the solution. This was essential to helping us make the right choice; the solution from Echo360.

Whilst one student can’t represent the entire student community, having them as part of a diverse team can really motivate everyone involved. Essential to success is that they are regarded as a full member of the team; something we placed great emphasis on from the start.

Above and beyond procurement

Students were also heavily involved in designing and implementing the communications strategy for the introduction of lecture recording. Karoline created a series of short publicity videos and she helped to train a team of student helpers to provide support in the lecture theatres.

The student support team played a major role in the smooth rollout of the system into lecture halls and teaching rooms. In their specially designed t-shirts, they became a familiar sight to staff and students. They were on hand to assist at the moment and signpost staff to get the help they needed, as required.

“Students were heavily involved in designing and implementing the communications strategy”

Driving innovation

Having a team of student representatives helping to drive good decision-making and encourage the adoption of new ways of working helps institutions to understand and meet the needs of their students. We continue to employ interns in our services and regularly have student helpers in place at the start of term – beyond that, we now have student interns on a range of our projects, it’s been a great success.

About the author: Anne-Marie Scott is Deputy Director of Learning, Teaching and Web at The University of Edinburgh