Here at Northumbria, we’re all ears! One of the many ways we listen to our students is through a few themed events each year where Students’ Union officers and University leaders speak to students about an important theme we’ve agreed together. We set some questions, put on some hot drinks and head onto campus to get talking. Overall, we speak to about 1,000 students each year about how the University responds to the key themes affecting students.

In 2019 and 2020, the themes for our events have been mental health, timetabling, IT services, environmental sustainability and tackling sexual harassment and violence. Each of these events has led to conversations between the University and Students’ Union, and to plans for how we’ll act on what we’ve learned from our students. These conversations are ongoing and we’re developing plans for how we take forward each of these important themes.

We’re All Ears events have led to changes on campus, in your classroom and beyond. They help to shape the University and Students’ Union plans and decisions. In the past few years, the conversations with students at these events have contributed to discussions and decisions that led to:

  • An opt-in system for notifying a named contact if there is a serious concern about a student’s mental health. We asked students for their views on this idea and found overwhelming support for it.
  • Improved models for supporting student mental health, such as the introduction of out of hours counselling provision, the introduction of Kooth’s free, safe and anonymous online support, and the introduction of Mental Health First Aid training through the Students’ Union. We’ve also worked to deliver a specific project looking at research students’ mental health needs and a review of the personal tutoring system, following student feedback about the importance of these discussions.
  • A revised model for recognising student volunteering, supporting students who volunteer within and beyond the Students’ Union to make the most of the potential benefits of their volunteering for their future careers, through reflection, training and certification of their achievements.
  • More computers on campus, from pop-up rooms during assessment periods to the Library Digital Commons and the Forager’s annexe at Coach Lane.
  • Timely assessment feedback, with tracking in place to ensure that students are getting their feedback in line with the University’s 20 working days policy.
  • Timely communication with lecturers. Following lots of feedback about the importance of prompt staff responses to emails, the University has introduced a policy that emails will normally receive a response within 72 hours.
  • Extended campus opening hours, to allow work at convenient times for students. Examples of this include extended hours for architecture studios and London Campus, and a particular emphasis is placed on opening hours around busy assessment periods.
  • Improved printing, with additional printers installed, particularly within Design.
  • Student Central developments, including the new and improved Research Zone for PGR students and the introduction of gender-neutral toilets. Conversations with London students have also led to growth in the support staff team working at that campus.
  • Increased focus on postgraduate students, particularly through the introduction of the Students’ Union’s first ever Vice-President Postgraduate from 2018.
  • We’re continuing to work on what we’ve learned from our conversation with students and we’re always seeking student views on their experience at Northumbria. We will publish the date of each We're All Ears event on the NSU Facebook page. Follow us here to find out more about this and the other amazing things we do to make a positive impact on your student experience.