Tell us about your overall university experience so far.
My overall experience has been challenging, life changing, and fun. I will say that, during this MA, I have enjoyed the extracurricular...
OVERALL UNIVERSITY RATING
Tell us about your overall university experience so far.
My overall experience has been challenging, life changing, and fun. I will say that, during this MA, I have enjoyed the extracurricular experiences more than the academic and course related ones. However, this time has been great for discovering what I don't what to do. I have learned more about my strengths, got involved with some great activities, and gained confidence.
I made a few good friends and met my current partner. I have had triumphs and fun times, as well as more testing times. But I'm so glad I chose my uni. I would have wanted to go anywhere else but Leeds. I wouldn't change anything about my experience.
How does your uni make efforts to increase your employability (careers department, work placements, transferable skills)?
Not that well. After finishing my undergraduate degree in Sociology at Leeds, I felt worried about my ability to find a job, and low in self confidence, even though I had been to events at the careers centre for people on my course. However, I made an effort to get experience which would help, and decided to stay at university to do an MA, hoping it would improve my job prospects.
I feel that my time at university while doing my MA has allowed me to become more job ready. It's been a bit easier and clearer to know what the university and university union offers students in terms of career guidance, getting work experience, and funding for starting businesses, because I have been there long enough to find out. I have been lucky enough to gain experience in a voluntary role, working as a BME Student Campaigns Coordinator in my first year, and, now in my second year of the MA, I am a paid sports engagement officer, and I now feel confident and able to compete in the job market.
I would say, however, that more support from lecturers about jobs directly related to my degree would have been appreciated; I don't feel that I got this. It can be hard to get advice if you study a very specific subject (recently, I was given useless and generic advice when I went to the career centre - sometimes it feels like they, and the events they put on like fairs and workshops, are aimed at people going into business, law and other corporate areas only).
You need to be smart and self motivated to use the resources available, as often they are not signposted. The university can be good at preparing you, depending on what degree you chose, and how much research you do into what services are there.
Course and Lecturers
What do you like most and least about the way your course(s) are taught?
The fact that many lecturers are world leaders in their field, and many do so much interesting research of their own. You really feel that you are in the presence of creative, intelligent people who are coming up with new, cutting edge ideas. Also, they put on so many interesting events and conferences, inviting inspiring speakers.
What do you think of your Students' Union in terms of student representation and facilities?
I love the student union! I have got extremely involved with it and feel like I am part of it. I have volunteered there, and now work there and have an office in the union, so I feel like I really know how things are there, where the offices are, who works there, and what the unions values are (thanks to the training I have had). I even got involved with tasting the food the union serves and making decisions about what the new menus should look like! The union feels like a safe place. It is warm, spacious, well decorated, and the shops and services they provide are great. The people working there are informal, friendly and approachable. The amount of clubs and societies is amazing, and that's what first made me interested in how the union runs, and what it does.
Its so easy to get involved because they offer so many opportunities to work there, or be involved in decision making about societies, or during elections and referendums, for example. The union feel independent from the university, and like it is led by us. They are very supportive of change, which I like.
The only downsides are that I don't always like the music played and the artists invited to perform; I feel like there could be more music options. However, this would be my only criticism. The union has been an important haven for me, and a place to socialise, work, get advice, meet with people, and take art in activities. I feel more connected to the union that the university itself.
What do you think about the safety, condition, location and cost of your accommodation?
I live with 5 other people, all older than me, in a house close to university. The rent is cheap and includes the bills. I really like it!
How good are your university’s facilities?
Really great. I've never had a problem accessing a book. There are several well stocked libraries, and you can choose from older, quieter ones, or the flashy new Laidlaw library (which I avoid because the glass and bright lights remind me of a hospital, and I don't like the fact there is a cafe nero in there).
The gym is incredible and I love working out there; however, I hate the booking system and how quickly classes get filled up.
There are so many computer clusters to choose from. I have my favourites that I always go to! They are so up to date and comfortable.
The university really offers a lot. The only things I dislike are the prices at the on-site cafes and restaurants.
Is your university in a good location in terms of distance to accommodation and local amenities?
I really enjoy living in Leeds. I love the people, the feel of it, the city centre, the amount of things to do, and how cheap everything is! I have branched out of the typical student areas and met so many amazing people, and experienced so much. Leeds feels like home; I even support their rugby league team now.
I like that it isn't too big; it's easy to get around, and I know it so well that showing my friends around the best places when they visit isn't stressful or a mad rush, not like how it would be back in London, where I come from.
The only thing I don't like is the weather! Its way too cold and windy here. Also, I don't like the divide between the student bubble and local people, which I feel is quite a big problem, although less of an issue than some other student cities I have seen when visiting uni mates. There is a lot of gentrification that goes on to attract students; a lot of land used to build fancy private halls, a lot of themed, hipstery, expensive restaurants, segregation in the nightlife. It would be great if there was more interaction between students and locals.
Societies and Sports
How would you rate the variety of societies/sports?
Over the years, I have been a member of Street Dance Society, Scribe (creative writing), Hip Hop society, Afro-Caribbean Society, Volleyball, and I was also involved in the setting up of a new society; I was treasurer of the Black Feminist Society.
I have also often been to classes, give-it-a-go sessions and events held by Sociology society, Bellydance society, freestyle dance, ballroom and latin (aka dancesport), re-thinkers, lippy magazine, breakdance soc, trampolining, ballet, Spanish Latin American and Portuguese society, vertical fitness, fem soc, revolutionary socialists, and I have written for the Gryphon (student paper).
I tried to explore all my interests while I could!
How good is the support offered by the uni? Think both academic (tutors/feedback) and personal (counselling, etc).
Academic support is awful. I felt quite alone during this MA. I often felt that lecturers are only interested in MA students who are planning to go on to do a PHD (I am not). Not enough contact hours, staff are never available, and they are often unapproachable or intimidating when it comes to talking about failure, or doubts. I suffered from depression in the first year of my MA, which threw me off track. It was hard to come to uni, to study, to communicate with other students or the teachers. I didn't get any emails about my absences, even though I basically missed a whole module. They didn't notice I wasn't there. or was turning up looking unwell or acting unengaged.
The counselling centre was great, but you are only allowed up to 5 sessions, and I needed more. Also, a lot of my worries and issues were academic or career related; I considered dropping out. I wish I had had someone to talk to who knew something about my course, about the merits of an MA, about how to get on in my subject. That kind of targeted counselling advice would have been so helpful, would have sped up my decision making processes and recovery. As it stands, the process of me finding out what options I had for continuing, trying to rediscover my academic passion, searching for advice, trying to drop out, and attempting to switch to a PGD, was a long, lonely, and completely bewildering and nonsensical one.
In terms of strictly academic support as opposed to personal, the university is quite good, although I wish the library offered even more skills workshops, particularly in subject specific skills like using SPSS.
Having said what you have said would you recommend your uni?