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One year on: Supporting academic skills development

Posted on 6 April 2021

As part of the pivot to online learning at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, we moved all academic skill support online.

A student writing in a notebook

We began offering:

  • Access to self-help, online resources - 24/7
  • Academic Skills and Communication Workshops
  • Academic Skills Community Groups
  • One-to-one support through the Maths Skills Centre and the Writing Centre.

In the Autumn and Spring Terms there were a total of 1,695 appointments with the Maths Skills Centre and Writing Centre, for one-to-one skills support or workshops.

Students said this range of support helped them feel part of a community, share their experiences and get to know new people from different countries - giving them new perspectives.

“When we are isolated as students, it is so important to have someone to talk to, who is knowledgeable about human behaviour and learning strategies… if you can find the techniques that work for you, and the ways to get through challenges, you can apply that to whatever area you are developing in.” Student feedback on Study Coaching 1:1

“I just wanted to email to say how brilliant your session was! I learned a lot both in terms of improving my own communication, but also from your excellent online teaching practice. The material was very engaging, and tailored to a broad audience. I also really enjoyed the interactive elements.” Student feedback on an Academic Skills workshop

“The sessions were really helpful, showed me where I can access some great resources for reading. Also a nice way to meet new people and make some friendships in lockdown.” Student feedback on an Academic Community Group

Over the summer of 2020, restrictions were eased, allowing some reopening of shops. Face coverings became compulsory in enclosed public places.

The Library began a phased reopening, and launched its Book Takeaway Service to widen access to print resources. In the last year, we have provided 550+ covid-secure study spaces across a range of locations.

In August, we held our first virtual graduation ceremony. In the absence of being able to celebrate in person, it was important to be able to mark the achievements of our graduates and a mix of online content and social media helped us to do this.

Staff in the Graduation team also rolled out a new system so students could graduate and receive their awards online. As of March 2021, there were 17,064 students registered and 33,390 documents uploaded. The system’s supplier noted that we established it faster than any other University in their history.

We are celebrating all that colleagues from across the University have done to keep our students safe and supported over the last 12 months with a series of stories on these pages.