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Block for Part Time Learners - learning spaces

Learning and Teaching 2021-2022

All teaching spaces are in the process of being set up with kit to support live streaming / recording of lectures and where appropriate seminars. Rooms which have a capacity of over 16 will have OWL devices (integrated camera and microphone), while smaller rooms have webcams and microphones. Guidance on live streaming is available online, and information posters are being put up in teaching spaces with guidance and a support number for the Learning Design team. 

Block for Part Time Learners

As more of the University courses move to block delivery we are aware that for some students there will need to be additional consideration given to how their learning experience is delivered and managed. This is particularly true for part time students who are part way through their studies with us. 

Below are some approaches to mitigating the impact of the change, and these should be discussed with students on an individual basis to find the best solution for them.

Within each five-week block module teams are free to schedule their contact / synchronous learning as best fits the modules’ requirements. Where it is known that part-time students will be within the cohort, such synchronous learning could be scheduled to take place on a single day each week rather than on many days to allow students to take a ‘day-release approach to attendance. While this does not resolve issues with overall learning hours, in combination with one of the following two mitigations it might be possible to enable most part-time students to engage with block delivery. However, the impact of such an approach on the full-time students will also need to be considered. Where the module cohort is of sufficient size that they are divided up into smaller tutorial or seminar groups, the part-time students could be placed in groups scheduled to meet on the same day as other synchronous activity, whilst the full-time students’ groups could meet on other days of the week.

If we set part-time students a later assessment submission date, we can effectively extend the time available for them to complete the module’s learning and assessment activities. This may be a sufficient mitigation to enable access for many part-time students. While this is possible when students are required to make a single submission for a module, and this submission not closely coupled with the module’s learning activities, such a mitigation may not be practical in many modules, and may involve additional costs or work for the course team:
  • Enabling a later submission may require the part-time students’ assessments to be adjusted or different to prevent them gaining an advantage over their peers, particularly when their full-time peers gain their feedback.
  • Where a module has significant practical elements, the team would need to explore how part-time students would be afforded access to appropriate specialist resources to enable them to complete work during the extended period of learning and assessment.
  • Where the assessment involves group work, alternative approaches to assessment may be required if the number of part-time students is limited.
  • Where assessment involves a TCA or similar a different paper might be required.
  • Part-time assessment submissions would be marked at a point significantly later than the main set of submissions, having implications on moderation processes and result reporting.
  • Module tutors would need to be available for tutorial support for the part-time students for a significant period after the block has been completed.
  • Should the module be delivered in the final block of the academic year, tutor support could be required after the rest of teaching has been completed, and the submission deadline would be after the main assessment board of the year, possibly having implications on student progression.
It is important to observe that this mitigation would only be effective if the students involved do not study a further module in the subsequent block, thus needing to study two modules in the same block.
Just as extending assessment deadlines can give part-time students time to complete study activities, providing part-time students access to module materials and learning activities in advance of the start of a module’s delivery can have a similar effect. This mitigation could enable a part-time student to gain a significant head start on their learning in advance of engaging alongside their full-time peers, thus possibly allowing them to engage effectively with planned synchronous learning activities, formative opportunities, and the planned assessment strategy according to the same schedule as their peers. While this could be a reasonable mitigation in some situations, it does require modules to have been prepared well in advance of their delivery. Similarly to above, this mitigation would only be effective if the student was not required to engage with a different module in the block preceding the one being extended.
Some course teams integrate learning hubs, collections of learning activities designed to complement a sequence of blocks’ delivery, into their module delivery structure. Where these include course learning that needs to be assessed, this is usually achieved through the associated block’s assessment strategies. While some learning hubs might involve scheduled synchronous learning, this is not always the case. Positively for part-time students, learning hubs can be an effective mechanism in helping them to maintain contact with their studies and course teams during those blocks where they are not engaging with synchronous module learning activity. However, when learning hubs are closely connected to the full-time students’ module learning the part-time students may find engagement with them more difficult and dispiriting. In general, where there is expectation that part-time students will be taking a course alongside full-time students:
  • learning hubs should be designed to feed into and inform module delivery and not rely on module learning.
  • using different methods for feedback, e.g., written, video, peer assessment
Some course teams integrate learning hubs, collections of learning activities designed to complement a sequence of blocks’ delivery, into their module delivery structure. Where these include course learning that needs to be assessed, this is usually achieved through the associated block’s assessment strategies. While some learning hubs might involve scheduled synchronous learning, this is not always the case. Positively for part-time students, learning hubs can be an effective mechanism in helping them to maintain contact with their studies and course teams during those blocks where they are not engaging with synchronous module learning activity. However, when learning hubs are closely connected to the full-time students’ module learning the part-time students may find engagement with them more difficult and dispiriting. In general, where there is expectation that part-time students will be taking a course alongside full-time students:
  • learning hubs should be designed to feed into and inform module delivery and not rely on module learning.
  • part-time students would normally engage with the learning hubs within any level’s study schedule during the first academic year in which they study at that level.
Where we find part-time students are unable to access block learning effectively and the preceding mitigations would not address their particular needs or circumstances, it may be possible to adopt an alternative delivery model. In general, these will incorporate a cost in terms of staffing time and this will need to be carefully considered alongside the contractual commitments we have made to the students in enrolling them onto our courses. Some possible solutions include:
  • where there is a significant cohort of students on a part-time study programme, modules could be offered in a more suitable format for these students (longer block of study, synchronous delivery scheduled according to a ‘block release’ model to allow employed students to access).
  • Careful consideration of a course’s individual part-time students alongside course progression possibilities may permit students at different stages of their studies to be drawn together to study a particular module at the same time, thus forming a ‘viable’ cohort. Full-time students needing to retake modules could also form part of such cohorts.
  • Individual or small groups of students could be offered the option of studying a module separately from their full-time peers according to an independent study, or semi-independent study approach. Students could be afforded access to course materials and activities provided through Brightspace and a schedule of one-to-one sessions (or small group tutorials) with a tutor to facilitate and prompt their learning



All students have had access to an induction module in Brightspace since the middle of June, which has given them access to resources, advice and guidance in relation to joining the University Community and accessing support from Student Life and Library and Learning Services. 


Slides for Course Team Welcome

Some drafted slides have been shared with Course Leaders as a template for the course welcomes. These provide a structure to your initial activity as well as the key information we need each student to know. Guidance is also included in relation to the Personal Academic Coach. You can access, download and edit your own version of the slides using the link below. 


Room bookings

Your requested room bookings are being managed by Faith Hicks.



Access and Participation

Our Access and Participation plan for 2020-2021 final report will be published, in full, after the next Senate Committee in October 2021. The initial findings were presented to the Learning and Teaching Conference in June, and you can view the presentation, and others from that day in the University staff CPD Hub

Our work next year will be led by our new research lead, Associate Professor Jo Trowsdale who is joining the University in October. Jo will be working with colleagues to determine the research activity for the coming year. 

As part of our APP work, we want to continue our evaluation of block and blend, building on findings published earlier this year. Block and Blend has now been rolled out to all Level 4 courses, across all Schools with the exception of our apprenticeship provision, Counselling, Social Work, Early Years and Early Learning. EAST has now applied block and blend to all undergraduate provision at levels 4-6, except the suite of programmes in computer suite, due to its overlap with apprenticeship provision. EAST and Suffolk Business School are also piloting block and blend for postgraduate taught programmes, including the new SEMBA. 

Following the development of our new Personal Academic Coach approach to personal tutorials, and the training over the summer, we will be developing an evaluation framework which explores the experience from both staff and student perspective and enables an evaluation of the impact of the new approach on student experience, continuation and achievement.

Read more about our Personal Academic Coach model

Course Validation

Following a review and streamlining of quality processes relating to course modification, guiding principles have been approved at Quality Committee which enable greater flexibility within the processes to ensure that we meet the needs of the course, the associated level of risk and, where necessary, alignment with any PSRB requirements. The underlying processes will be developed for submission to the September Quality Committee.


Overview of revised process



The following principles outline where changes to courses may or may not required external examiner support. Course teams are encouraged encouraged to seek guidance from a member of the Quality team should they be unsure whether EE support is required. Course teams should continue to discuss changes to their course with their external examiner.

Changes that do not require a course modification

  • Changes to tariff points (where these are set at institutional level)

  • Changes to reading lists

  • Minor changes to the indicative content of modules that do not affect overall module learning outcomes (to ensure ongoing


  • Change of module leader or module contributors

Changes that require a form but may not need EE support (exceptions could include courses associated with a PSRB. Should changes appear to be more major, then EE support may be required.)

  • Withdrawal of an optional module

  • Change to assessment weighting

  • Change to assessment size

  • Change in study hours breakdown

  • Addition of a sandwich year

  • Introduction of a new part-time mode of delivery to an existing full-time course or vice versa

  • Change of mode of delivery for the course to online or distance learning, either where there is a proportion of the existing course delivered online or the course team are experience in online delivery

  • Removal of a named exit award

  • Change in course duration

  • Additional delivery location, where the course is delivered by the same team

  • Changes made to a module that is shared with a course that has been through the re-approval process

Changes that require a from and may need EE support (exceptions could include courses associated with a PSRB)

  • Change of module/course title

  • Introduction of a new/replacement module

  • Withdrawal of a mandatory or requisite module

  • Change in level of module

  • Change in credit weighting of module

  • Change in module status (e.g. optional, requisite, mandatory

  • Change to pre-requisites

  • Change in module/course aims or learning outcomes

  • Change in assessment method

  • Addition of a named exit award

  • Revisions to entry requirements/criteria (except tariff points)

  • Conversion/addition of an apprenticeship to an existing course, where no major changes to the existing course are required to meet the apprenticeship standard

Next steps

The CELT and Quality teams will be working together to produce a workflow form to help streamline the process even further. In the meantime, please continue to use the existing form template available within the Quality Manual.

Approval for new courses

The new process, outlined below, has been designed to both streamline the process and increase the focus on the design of the programme rather than the approval event. An outline of the process, and timeline is presented below. There is flexibility to allow the timeline to be shortened (but with each stage of the process still being completed) where this is needed, and course teams are able to do so.

Ipswich courses will pilot the new system in 2021/22, although there may be different practice where a PSRB is involved or an early event has already been identified. Following an evaluation this will be rolled out to partner institutions in 2022/23. Therefore, for partner institutions in 2021/22 they will continue with the existing approval processes, although course proposal forms will go to POC only for approval.


Overview of revised process



Next steps

The CELT and Quality teams will be working together to revise the (re)approval documentation and will be in contact with course teams due for (re)approval in 2021/22 to identify dates for events.

Further discussions will continue with the Director of Learning and Teaching, the Quality team and Associate Deans on further development of re-approval processes and potential move to periodic reviews for implementation in 2022/23.

For 2021/22, Ipswich courses due for re-approval will follow the course approval principles (with a course design and development event, course documentation, external scrutiny and sign-off). Partner institutions will continue to follow the existing processes for 2021/22.

It is anticipated that we will move to a process of risk-based periodic review for courses periodic in the next academic year. 


Next steps

The CELT and Quality teams will be working together to revise the (re)approval documentation and will be in contact with course teams due for (re)approval in 2021/22 to identify dates for events.

Further discussions will continue with the Director of Learning and Teaching, the Quality team and Associate Deans on further development of re-approval processes and potential move to periodic reviews for implementation in 2022/23.

Course Design and Development events and resources

The Course Design Blueprint is a toolkit which provides you with all the guidance and support materials you may need which designing and developing new courses, or preparing an existing course for re-approval.  The blueprint is based on the concept of a lotus flower, and has eight overarching areas of focus of petals. Each of these areas is structured to include eight sub areas or petals. 

An example - the Delivery petal

Delivery is one of the areas of focus within the blueprint. The expectation is that courses and modules are designed to provide a holistic learning experience for students, and different learning experiences should be considered as part of the design. In this section of the lotus flower, course teams will find guidance for each of the areas in the image below. 

Delivery Petal


Access the course design blueprint


To support the revised course (re)approvals process and to embed the Course Design Blueprint in design activities, we have developed a new approach to course design and development activities. The new approach will include:

  1. A short introduction and briefing session to explain the process to all stakeholders and suggest preparation activities. 
  2. A one day event creating the course ethos and vision, learning outcomes, storyboard (narrative and structure).
  3. A half day event building an exemplar module in Brightspace and agreeing the ongoing developmental action plan for completion. 

This approach has been designed to include, as appropriate, input from existing students, employers, PSRBs and external academics as well as expertise from the Library and Learning Services teams, Learning Designers, Technicians / Technical Learning Instructors and Careers, Employability and Enterprise team. 

Full information on the process and events is published online

It is also possible for you to request any of the included activities or a bespoke event to explore any of the areas in the blueprint or your practice. 

CPD Schedule, PgCAP and PASSPoRT

We have developed a comprehensive CPD schedule for 2021-2022 for staff across the University. Our offer includes a range of activities which directly impact your learning and teaching practice as well as those which will increase awareness and understanding of challenges faced by students and colleagues in attending university or accessing learning. Some of these challenges may be raised through your work as Personal Academic Coaches, and it is important that you know how to respond, and how to advise students to access specialist support. 

Learning and Teaching

  • Personal Academic Coach and Action Learning Set Facilitations
  • Tools and tips for synchronous learning, e.g., use of Virtual Classroom,, 
  • Tools and tips for asynchronous learning, e.g., ensuring resources are accessible, using quizzes 
  • Engagement, e.g., communication tools, discussion boards
  • Assessment, e.g., using rubrics, feedback methods

Supporting students effectively

  • Adult Safeguarding
  • Prevent Duty
  • Mental Health First Aid
  • Responding to disclosures of sexual misconduct

Policy and regulation

  • Introduction to student complaints and conduct
  • Framework and regulation updates


We will continue to add events to our schedule. If there is anything you wish to request, please email you can also use this address to offer any content for delivery. 

Personal Academic Coach launches this academic year. Training has been provided for all academic staff, and continues to be offered with dates scheduled in September, October and February. Our training and support extends to the scheduling of weekly action learning sets. You find out about our training and support online and book any of these events through the CPD Calendar. Resources used in the training are published in Brightspace

We have published a guide to the scheme online 



The PgCAP programme has now been completely redesigned and approved for delivery by the University. It will be submitted to AdvanceHE later in September so that through the programme we can continue to directly award Associate Fellowship and Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. Subject to this approval, the programme will begin delivery in January 2022. In the second year of delivery, the programme will being in October (2022). 

Programme modules

The new programme has three 20 credit modules:

  • Module 1 - Learning, Teaching and Curriculum design   - This module seeks to encompass and progress the underpinning knowledge required for HE teaching and supporting (student) learning at the University of Suffolk, including as relevant within partners. It is designed to advance your confidence and critical awareness to effectively undertake your teaching and/or support of learning duties, in your professional role. The module will engage you in key educational processes underpinning good practice in learning and teaching development, such as: theories of learning & teaching and the practice of excellence in HE; curriculum design; philosophy and principles of assessment; designing effective and constructive feedback and academic coaching and peer review.
  • Module 2 - Research and Evidence Based Practice - This module provides a broad introduction to contemporary models of research and evidence informed pedagogy and teaching practices and critically considers approaches to scholarship of teaching and learning; use of research to improve access and participation; recent developments in pedagogy, curriculum and assessment; and applying theory in educational research and scholarship of teaching and learning. It is designed to advance your confidence and critical awareness around both curriculum and teaching and learning activities design, as well as scholarship of teaching and learning, in order to effectively undertake your professional role. 
  • Module 3 - Enhancing Learning and Teaching - This module emphasises the importance of a focused, critical and innovative approach to learning and teaching. The module seeks to encourage your critical awareness of your own existing practice with the potential to explore and enhance towards transforming your teaching and supporting student success through effective student engagement methods. A focus on development of one’s own professional capability is pivotal in this module, as is a duty to reflect, critique and enhance your pedagogic knowledge and skills. ELT’s structure is based on four key themes: promoting participation and opportunities for learners; innovation in learning and teaching and critical pedagogies; developing effective learning environments and employability enterprise and entrepreneurship in the curriculum.


Programme delivery

The programme is delivered using the University's block and blend pedagogy, and aims to exemplify good practice. Each block will run for the duration of 10 weeks, including timetabled time to complete assessment. Timetabled sessions will be delivered over 1 day per week.  Each week in the block has been designed to deliver up to 2 units of themed content. Each unit of themed content will be delivered over a period of up to 3 hours.   

Between blocks, participants are encouraged to complete activities including:

  • Completion of DigiPath 1: Brightspace and the Online Learning Environment
  • Completion of DigiPath2: Delivery of Learning and Teaching
  • Hosting of a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) event
  • Completion of An Introduction to Coaching
  • Completion of the Personal Academic Coach workshop
  • Joining of a relevant academic or professional practice workshop
  • Contribution to the University's Learning and Teaching Conference or Forum. 

We have taken care to design the programme so that it can be studied in one sequence or block by block over a pre-agreed period of time. We also welcome colleagues who do not need to complete the programme, bu wish to engage with some of the learning content to join sessions. 

PASSPoRT is a supportive pathways to HEA fellowship, without taking the PgCAP. This pathway is being submitted to AdvanceHE for reaccreditation in September. 

The PASSPoRT pathway will bring colleagues together, working as a cohort, and in doing so create peer learning groups who can provide support to each other through the building of portfolios. This route will also provide one to one support with our Senior Lecturer in Learning and Teaching Enhancement, Dr Javiera Atenas. 

Each cohort will begin with a writing retreat and will ideally lead to submission at the following panel. Dates for these are:

Cohort 1

Cohort 2

Cohort 3


For any colleagues wishing to submit ahead of that date, there is a submission date of 21st October 2021 with the panel meeting 11th November 2021. 

Links to book onto the writing retreats and to join the cohort are in our CPD schedule

Peer Review and Enhancement of Learning and Teaching is one way in which we can demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the delivery of high quality learning and teaching. It is also a critical element of assuring the quality of our provision, and intentional action to improving the impact of our teaching for our apprenticeship programmes. 

Participating in peer review

We ask that all staff who deliver teaching and contribute to the academic experience and progress of our students participate in Peer Review annually. As part of the review, we expect that there is one observation of teaching (lecture, small group, lab session etc.) and one review from one of the following activities: 

  • critical review of learning designed in the OLE as synchronous or asynchronous activity,
  • design and provision of formative or summative assessment and feedback,
  • module (re)design. 

For apprenticeships we also include the ongoing development of English and Maths as embedded into curricular. 

To support  colleagues in actively participating in peer observation, we have published updated guidance

Hold the Date!

The Learning and Teaching Forum is an annual event and will be held 15th December 2021, 12.00-5.00pm. This event, for an internal audience of the University and its partners focusses specifically on the Access and Participation Plan, and updates on initiatives, and attainment of milestones and targets. 

Our Learning and Teaching Conference, which is a full day event, and open to the University, its partners and wider community stakeholders will be held 8th June 2021. We will publish event details and issue a call for speakers closer to each event.

Task and Finish Groups

We are establishing a number of Task and Finish Groups through 2021-22 to continue our work to understand and enhance the impact and experience of our learning and teaching. Information on each group is provided below. We hope that some of you may wish to join these groups, so please contact CELT and let us know. 

Information about the Task and Finish Groups for 2021-2022
The Liberated Curriculum

This group will explore how we can connect Equality, Diversity and Inclusion with the Learning and Teaching Strategy, and ensure that our practices are free from bias towards any protected characteristics. The work of the group will be supported through a bespoke training programme developed in partnership with AdvanceHE looking at:

  • EDI in learning and teaching
  • Inclusive curriculum
  • Inclusive and equitable assessment and feedback
  • Inclusive engagement

The training with AdvanceHE will be delivered over 4 modules through the academic year. The enhanced best practice will inform our course design blueprint as well as our activities for Access and Participation. 

Training dates will be published shortly on the project page.

Employability, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

This group will continue the work completed last year and pilot a series of activities in curriculum and through extra and co-curricular opportunities which support students in developing the skills identified as part of the Suffolk Graduate Attributes model.

Updates on this project will be published online

Learner Data and Analytics

The learner data Task and Finish Group will be continuing the work of the previous Learner Analytics Task and Finish Group. It will be working to establish a robust model for learner engagement data in the University to support the work of the Student Experience and Engagement Team and Personal Academic Coach, the design of appropriate interventions and reporting as part of institutional returns to OFS. 

Information about the benefits of learner data and analytics and the ongoing project are available online.  


Learning Innovation Hub and the Learning Design team

Learning Innovation Hub logo

We are currently setting up the Learning Innovation Hub on the first floor of the Library Building.  The space is open to all,  you can pop in for a coffee and a chat, organise a course team development meeting, a full course design event, or if you just pop your head in whilst collecting a book from the library with a Brightspace query, the team are here to support you.

Innovation helps to adapt and develop skills, the following skills form the foundation stones of the Learning Innovation Hub:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Creativity
  • Planning
  • Initiative
  • Problem Solving
  • Flexibility

The Learning Design Team will be based within the hub where there will be classroom and web based technologies for you to play with, gain an understanding of how they might support your learning and teaching.  

We will be holding a launch event to introduce the hub, keep an eye on your inbox for an invite.

Learning Design Team

The team are here to support your development of learning and teaching using all available tools here at Suffolk.  We have many workshops running this year through CELT's CPD calendar, we are also able to organise bespoke training for individuals, groups or module/course teams outside of these outside workshops.

As well as launching the Learning Innovation Hub we are very pleased to welcome three new colleagues to the team.  Our new designers are:

  • Dr Mary Cornelius 
  • Richard Williams
  • Soukaina Soussi

Each new member brings with them a vast list of experience and skills, adding to the already great experience in the team under the new management of Olly Fayers who now leads the team. 

Mary has been a GTA at the University of Glasgow and managed the Widening Participation Summer School through the pandemic,  Both roles requiring the need to design active learning activities across different environments and to be flexible in her approach. 

Richard has previously taught at primary level where he has been an award winning leader in robotics and 3D printing, whilst more recently developing his web development skills as a student here at Suffolk. 

Soukaina is a trained architect and has expertise in computer aided drawing and design which will help the team develop its 3D printing skillset.  Soukaina is joining the team as the new Learning Design apprentice where she will develop her software engineering skills.

From this academic year the team will align to Schools to give a consistent named contact, the team are alignment is:


The team will be based in the Learning Innovation Hub on the first floor of the library,

Student Experience and Engagement

Our new Student Experience Ambassadors (SEAs) are currently being recruited and will be joining your Schools from the middle of September. The new SEAs as they have currently been recruited are:

EAST Solomon Holmes and Fran Mulvey
Health and Sports Sciences Hannah Pearce
Social Sciences and Humanities Linda Cope and Kiril Kostadinov
Suffolk Business School  

Find out more about the SEA team

Following a pilot with some course areas, led through the Student Experience Task Force in the last academic year, we are now rolling out a new approach to course committees, which increases the focus on finding and reporting solutions to student feedback. To reflect the new emphasis, Course Committees will be renamed Student Voice Forums.


The changes

The Student Voice Forums take a flipped approach using the meeting to respond to issues that have been submitted in advance. To achieve this, SEAs will be supporting Course Reps in creating an action focused report prior to the Student Voice Forum and submitting this to the membership of of the Forum as part of the documents for distribution. This process will allow for course teams to consider their actions in advance. The meeting therefore will focus on discussing the outcomes of the feedback, giving time for the Course Rep to make additional comments if necessary. 

Course Reps will still be expected to collect feedback from their peers and upload this information into SOFIA. The Course Rep and SEA will work together to compile all feedback from SOFIA, NSS, ISS, Course Rep Forum, Student Council and Module Feedback, as available and appropriate into an action focused template. Course Reps will also be encouraged to attend and present any feedback gained subsequent to the submission of the report to the Forum.

Closing the feedback loop

SEAs will create a poster reflecting the conversation and publish it as Activity Feed within Brightspace Course areas. This poster will also be also be available in Course Monitoring and Enhancement areas on Brightspace.  


Full guidance on the revised approach is published online.

Module feedback in block

As courses move to block delivery, the established approach of mid-module feedback will no longer be appropriate.  Moving forwards, we would like to encourage an open, 2-way dialogue throughout the year between course teams and students via Brightspace discussion boards. To encourage engagement, the School SEAs will publish questions/prompts as agreed by the Associate Deans of School for Learning and Teaching. This will be scheduled for week 4 of every block, or likewise for double block (EAST). SEAs will produce a report for course teams based on these findings on a monthly basis. This information will also feed into Student Voice Forum reports for responses.

Module feedback for semesterised courses

Courses that remain on semesterised teaching will continue to complete mid module feedback. SEAs will upload the mid module survey onto the appropriate Course areas within Brightspace. SEAs will then collate the report and share with the course team for discussion and actioning. SEAs will support course teams to inform students of any outcomes.  

SOFIA (Student Online Feedback in Action) is a pan-university student feedback platform. It has been used in the last two academic years to gather feedback from Course Reps in relation to all aspects of the student experience. We are conscious that SOFIA is just one method of being able to gather student feedback, and recognise that there are some challenging aspects of the current platform. 

We are now working on a new student feedback platform, which is being built as part of a final degree project by one of Learning Designers, who is currently studying on our Digital Technologies Apprenticeship.  The new platform is being designed to enable the gathering of all student feedback in one platform regardless of how it is submitted. This will enable our Student Experience team to produce 'whole picture' student voice reports for committee and action and business planning and to explicitly close the feedback loop for our students. 


SOFIA in 2021-2022

The current SOFIA platform will be used and promoted during the academic year 2021-2022, this will be expanded to the wider student body at Ipswich campus in an attempt to increase feedback received.  Oversight of the platform will be with the Student Experience Team, they will ensure feedback is forwarded to course teams as required (this will be advised by the Associate Dean for each School). 



The new platform will be developed for pilot after Christmas and to the end of the academic year. It is hoped that we will be able to roll this out more widely for academic year 2022-2023. 

We recognise the challenges our students face and the increased anxieties this year may have caused. The Student Experience Team has worked with Associate Deans for Learning, Teaching and Student Experience and a pilot for a new kind of intervention has been designed. 


The text message pilot

The use of text messages to 'check in' with students was piloted in 2020-2021 by Suffolk Business School, and prompted response from nearly every student contacted. This approach is also used with many of the University's partners with considerable positive impact. A pilot across Ipswich courses will be run in November. 


Identifying students at risk

SEAs will use data available to the university, such as non-submission, low or non-attendance or lack of Brightspace engagement to identify students that may be at risk of withdrawing from their studies. SEAs will then liaise with an identified member of a course team to gain agreement for the student to be contacted. A tSMS text message will be sent to these students o check in with them from a wellbeing and supportive perspective.  

Impact will be reviewed and updates reported to the Student Experience Task Force. 

15th-19th November 2021 will include a week of planned activity to help students going through a potentially challenging time. As is the case in other Universities offering such initiatives, this should be a collaborative enterprise, between Professional Services, Course Teams and Students’ Union to put supportive measures in place to decrease the chances of students withdrawing. Activities include, but are not limited to;

  • wellbeing initiatives, 
  • a group walk around University Campus,
  • a supportive message to someone who may need to hear it on discussion boards,
  • an opportunity to showcase university services and reflection time, to name a few.

This has the potential to be a university wide project, pulling together different support services, offering a ‘support package’ to students and directly impact our Access and Participation targets and milestones. 

The Student Experience and Engagement Team will develop this initiative and update colleagues as details are finalised. 

New Discovery Platform and Library, Research and Learning Services Update

In May we launched our brand new library resource search platform "Discovery". The new platform brings together all of our resources in to one easy search, and also enables seamless access to records of materials held nationally and internationally, which you can of course request via our Resource Request Service. 

The Library team have created a series of short videos to introduce you to the new platform, and are promoting these to new and returning students. 

We have also scheduled a series of online workshops to introduce the platform and its functionality. 

The team is currently rebuilding the online reading and resource lists and subject guides so that they link to the new platform. 

From 20th September the Library will return to full access without a need to pre-book study spaces or book collection. As part of the University's ongoing commitment to managing the campus in line with Government requirements for COVD-19, there will be a QR code at the entrance to the Library that we are asking all Library visitors to scan. 


Our Librarians and Academic Skills Advisors are now returning to campus, and are providing a hybrid support service for you and your students. 



Activities for students 

Academic Skills Advisors will be facilitating weekly 'essential' skills workshops that synchronise with the delivery of block. Taking place both in person and online, these Wednesday afternoon sessions will enable students to discover and refresh their academic skills (from time management in week 1 to proof reading strategies in week 5 of block).

In addition to these weekly workshops, Academic Skills Advisors will be facilitating ‘workshop weeks’ throughout the academic year. These workshops will provide opportunities for L5/6/7/8 to enhance their writing and project management skills (dissertations / theses).

Our Learning and Teaching Librarians have also scheduled a variety of activities including literature searching, and evaluation of resources and the use of reference management tools.

The workshop schedule of activities for students has been published. The workshops are being delivered on campus, and live streamed  with recording for students who are unable to attend in person.


Activities for Staff

Our activities for staff are published in the University CPD calendar, and includes topics such as using open access resources, open access publishing and transformative agreements,  current awareness services, designing reading lists, understanding Turnitin reports and Dyslexia awareness. 


One to one tutorials

One to one tutorials can be booked by staff or students using our online system. Appointments are available with our Learning and Teaching Librarians, Academic Skills Advisors and our Maths and Stats Advisor. Our tutorials can be held face to face on campus, or online.