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Tell us about your overall university experience so far.
I am thoroughly enjoying my return to academia, and Staffordshire University have made this as seamless a transition as possible....
OVERALL UNIVERSITY RATING
Tell us about your overall university experience so far.
I am thoroughly enjoying my return to academia, and Staffordshire University have made this as seamless a transition as possible. I am confident the way the course is organised and delivered has set me up to be successful in my studies, and that was the single biggest factor in my decision over where to pursue doctoral study.
How does your uni make efforts to increase your employability (careers department, work placements, transferable skills)?
The EdD is a professional doctorate, and so already being employed in an Education setting is a course prerequisite. The course is essentially a chance to submerge your professional practice in academia, and encourages you to consider how you can learn from your work and make improvements to yourself and to organisations and policy. The course has been fantastic in supporting me to up-skill my abilities through establishing strong links between my research and developing professional practice. Since starting the course, I have been appointed to a senior leadership role in a school which values the professional niche the EdD is supporting me to develop. Being a doctoral student on a course so deeply rooted in practice was the critical difference that enabled my to advance my career.
Course and Lecturers
What do you like most and least about the way your course(s) are taught?
My favourite thing about the way the course is taught is that lots of thought is given to how the unique things each member of the cohort bring to the table can be utilised to maximise learning for everybody. Seminars are extremely well thought through, clearly revisited and improved on a continual basis, and student feedback is clearly valued as changes are made in response to suggestions. I also like that students from previous cohorts are invited to talk about their experiences and how we might learn from them, and that we get the same opportunity to be involved with students in the cohorts behind us. All in all, a very cohesive and thoroughly well planned course is delivered to an overall excellent standard which I am sure is a big contributor to the reasons I have performed so well in assessments.
The biggest area for improvement is the way written assessments are regulated. Although there are clear opportunities for tutor feedback on assignment plans, on a course where my original subject specialist involved no academic writing, I found it difficult to gauge the quality of my work and the feedback on the relatively small 500 word sample did not quite feel enough at the time to make me confident in the way I was approaching the assessed elements of the course. I think there needs to be more opportunities for tutors to work through assignments with you at the outset to help with this.
How many contact hours per week do you have?
What do you think of your Students' Union in terms of student representation and facilities?
The union is extremely active, and have stayed in close contact with students remotely during the pandemic. They were very proactive in helping postgraduate research students secure a very good support package from the university when access to on-site facilities was restricted through the campus closure.
How good are your university's facilities?
As a doctoral student, I have to read a lot and am most impressed with the library services both on-site and electronically. Academic literature is easy to access, and more often than not is available in a multitude of formats to support ease of learning. The librarians are extremely helpful, and support you with access to a their university libraries and for requests to the British Library.
The buildings at the Stoke-on-Trent campus look dated, but the teaching rooms are extremely well equipped for delivering 21st century teaching and learning. All materials discussed in seminars appear in advance and are updated with any notes and discussion points through a virtual learning environment.
I can’t comment on the availability of equipment for subjects and research areas requiring specialist gear, but any social science students should feel confident that everything they need to maximise their learning is in place to support them.
Is your university in a good location in terms of distance to accommodation and local amenities?
As a distance learning student, one of the reasons I chose Staffordshire was the accessibility if the Stoke-on-Trent campus by both road and rail. There also appears to be a lot of student housing in the campus’ immediate area.
Societies and Sports
How would you rate the variety of societies/sports?
Although I don’t access these as much as I am sure an on-campus student would have the opportunity to, there seems to be a wide range of different enrichment and sports activities available. This wouldn’t be a factor in choose a university for distance learning.
How good is the support offered by the uni? Think both academic (tutors/feedback) and personal (counselling, etc).
The support is excellent. Tutors are always happy to talk to me about my queries, and the learning support offered by the wider university exceeds my expectations without fail. This includes access arrangements and support detailed in a formal needs assessment, which the university have handled sensitively yet supportively.