Student Support Strategy: Where are we now?

Deputy President (Welfare)
Friday 21 December 2018

Last year towards the end of the year the words “Student Support Strategy” started being thrown around. You may have heard of it, you may not have, but I’m going to explain what on earth it’s all about!

The Student Support Strategy is the first of its kind in the UK. It’s a collaborative piece of work between the College and the Union to improve the student support offering.

It may seem like a waste of time making a strategy but it’s really important because writing it down means we have a clear view of what we want to achieve over the coming 5 years, we can focus our energy, resources and efforts into key areas that will have an impact. Secondly, it’s for funding purposes. These plans will be factored into budgeting rounds and resources will be allocated to this purpose. Without the strategy this wouldn’t happen. 

A draft of the strategy was produced at the end of last term and it was sent out for students and staff to give their feedback. A huge shout out to all the students that filled in the survey and to everyone that came to a pop-up stall, it was massively useful. Special mention to the PhD students that got involved, this strategy is for you as well so thank you!

The consultation showed that students were happy with the actions in the strategy and felt the actions highlighted were areas that needed work to improve the support for students.

The Union will be playing a key role throughout the strategy ensuring that the students are at the centre of it. The Union promises that:

  • Students will be listened to.
  • Students will not be judged by the Union.
  • We will keep working and lobbying until it works for every student.

The strategy mentions that “Gaining a degree from Imperial will not be a painful rite of passage and we will work to remove unnecessary stressors where they are in our control”. This was perhaps the most controversial statement in the entire strategy. While all students agreed that unnecessary stressors should be removed, the student opinion was split equally about whether the experience should be a painful rite of passage. Some students agreed that it should not be painful, students should enjoy it and not reach crisis point. Others thought that their degree would not be worth the same amount if it was not a painful experience and that they should experience difficulties for their degree to be of value.

Based on this feedback and the strategy, I think it’s important to address that the quality of the teaching will not be affected. The quality of your education will remain the same and College will still challenge you to think, innovate and question your field. Your experience will be challenging, and the value of your degree will not decrease, but it will not be painful and there will be support options so that being a student at Imperial doesn’t cause you to reach crisis point.

The strategy is still getting approved by College, but it is looking to be live in 2019. Watch this space for further updates!