THE Scholarly Web - Songs of youth and experience

Weekly transmissions from the blogosphere

May 9, 2013

The results of the annual Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey are keenly awaited by institutions and students alike - and cause for much celebration when the news is good.

Twitter feeds for universities across the UK leaped into life within hours of the 2013 results being made public as institutions trumpeted their achievements to their online communities.

“We are thrilled to have been voted number one for Good Social Life,” announced Newcastle University’s dedicated student account (@StudentsNCL), while Lancaster University (@LancasterUni) expressed its delight at being ranked fifth for sporting facilities and joint second for accommodation.

The University of Bath (@UniofBath) was pleased to have jumped 15 places to sixth overall, while the University of Lincoln (@unilincoln), the University of Hull (@UniOfHull) and York St John University (@YorkStJohn) celebrated having “risen”, “climbed” and “rocketed” up the table, respectively.

Others were keen to claim local bragging rights, such as the University of Central Lancashire (@Uclan), which retweeted a message from Helen Hewerston (@Helen_Kurai), a research assistant in its Centre for Research Informed Teaching, which read: “Uclan beats University of Manchester & University of Liverpool in latest student experience survey.”

Top of the pile was the University of East Anglia, which boasted of its achievement via a series of posters announcing the victory at train stations across the country and a 30ft banner attached to a campus building - a picture of which was promptly tweeted by philosophy lecturer Toby Smith (@TobyOSmith).

Meanwhile, more than 2,400 people visited the university’s Facebook page to “like” a picture depicting about 50 students forming the shape of the figure “1”; comments from some 60 students and staff members offered congratulations, praised the university’s achievement and relished the opportunity to “rub it into Colchester” (home of regional rival the University of Essex).

However, the UEA Student Blog, run by the Union of UEA Students, sounds a more cautious note. “Our Student Experience is number 1. But For How Long?” it asks.

“We’re delighted that UEA has been voted number 1 in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2013, and we like to think the Union’s services and activities have a big role in your UEA life,” the blog states.

But it goes on to express concern about some of the things the union may have to cut because of funding difficulties. “The Union’s funding is steadily disappearing as revenue from our shops and bars is declining,” it warns.

Increased prices in the student shops and bars, reduced funding for travel to university sporting events and cuts to society budgets could be on the cards, it adds.

“There are no longer any other realistic options. We’ve already lost a lot of staff, saved money on utilities, generated more footfall in our shops and bars. We don’t have enough resource in communications or representation to cut back on. We will have to cut the things which we do to make your student experience so good,” it says.

Send links to topical, insightful and quirky online comment by and about academics to chris.parr@tsleducation.com

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