My week - 4 February 2013 - Professor Vivien Jones gives an update on some student-centred initiatives

Professor Vivien Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Student Education, gives an update on some student-centred initiatives.

Professor Vivien Jones

One of the great pleasures of my role is being involved in events that celebrate student success. Last week saw the announcement of the winners of the student video competition, Catherine Carswell, Christian Geldart, Danny Robertson and Rebecca Webb. I was asked to award them their prizes and had a great chat with them about the making of the video and their long-term aspirations. If you haven’t yet done so, I do recommend you to have a look at their film. It’s a fantastically professional piece of work – which doesn’t surprise me, having heard them talk with great confidence not just about the technical aspects of making it, but about the teamwork involved and the logistics of fitting it round their coursework.

Their film is a great example of ‘education’ in its broad definition – the complementarity between academic and co-curricular skills and achievements – which we promote to our students as the very best preparation for life after Leeds. One of the highlights of last week for me was a viewing of the prototype of LeedsforLife version 4. Due for delivery at the start of next academic year, the newly designed website will be more intuitive for both students and staff. It will incorporate our great new web-based resources, the Volunteering Hub and the Leeds Network, which give students a one-stop shop for volunteering opportunities and an easy way to contact alumni offering career mentoring. It will make it much easier for students to maintain an up-to-date ‘living CV’ to help them record and reflect on their activities in conversation with their personal tutors. And it will be accessible on mobile devices and through the UniLeeds app. Students and staff will have lots of opportunity for input as LeedsforLife 4 develops.

Most Russell Group universities would claim that they offer students a wide range of opportunities. But LeedsforLife is just one example of Leeds having thought through what that means more thoroughly than many of our peers. (Our definition of research-led teaching and research-based learning, developed and embedded through the Curriculum Enhancement Project, is another.) In the new competitive world of higher education, we need to be more up-front than ever about communicating these Leeds advantages to prospective students in ways that will fire their imaginations. And this is one of the areas where working within the Partnership is crucial. There’s no substitute for direct communication between current students and applicants. The winning student video, with prospective students as its target audience, is just one example of what should be happening in different ways right across the University as we focus our energies on converting applicants into registrations.

My week ended with another student-centred event: the launch by Leeds University Union (LUU) of LGBT History Month. This is the fifth time that, following a suggestion that came originally from LUU, the Parkinson Tower has been lit in purple during February to celebrate sexual diversity and to show our commitment as an institution to inclusivity, tolerance and freedom of expression. Another great example of our Partnership at work.


The student video competition winning entry can be found on University YouTube channel

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