The annual Whatuni Student Choice Awards (WUSCAs) highlight the incredible work carried out by institutions for their students. Due to Covid restrictions, this year’s awards were not collected on uni campuses as usual, but instead based on submissions from institutions, which were then judged by our special student panel.
2021 WUSCA winners
I have loved university so far and made some great, lifelong friends despite covid restrictions. The university has also been very understanding of the difficulties experienced by students this year and so support has been essential. I always felt like I knew who to contact if I found myself struggling, both academically and with welfare issues, so this was never a worry. My tutors were also great with extending deadlines and giving us extra time if it was needed as a result of the challenging year we have all experienced, meaning that academic work never became a worry and I always knew who to ask for help.
Only a few guest speakers were invited this year due to covid, however zoom panels and Q&A sessions with companies/career professionals were organised and made readily available (mostly for free!) for students which was really helpful!
The professors and tutors were all very helpful (both academically and also with welfare) and ensured that there were plenty of office hours outside of contact hours to get in touch and ask any questions. Tutors were also very understanding with deadlines and personal circumstances, meaning that I felt supported and confident in my studies.
Shared spaces were always regularly cleaned, especially in line with covid measures. Equipment hire/services were also readily available and made easy to use using online booking forms (which were kept up to date via social media channels)
Significance placed on welfare support became even greater this year due to covid creating different personal circumstances. Support groups were set up most days of the week during term, alongside nightline services for urgent welfare throughout the night and email access to counselling/mentoring if we needed.
It has not been the greatest due to lockdown restrictions and staff strikes. I feel like I was only in university for a total of 4 months. Lecturers are not the most interesting and marking can be quite unfair. But the practical are really enjoyable and has very good student life
Constant emails of job opportunities and help
Online, 1 hour per module per week for zoom lecture and then an additional hour pre recorded. Not much detail in lectures.
Super clean and modern. Apart from the science site which is very outdated in comparison.
Constant emails offering support and tips
I really enjoyed my time at Durham before Covid, both socially and academically. Throughout the pandemic I could see the department efforts to switch to online teaching. Whilst online lectures and contact hours were carried out in an acceptable manner, I don’t think students were supported appropriately. Many lecturers failed to understand the individual strains put on student’s mental health/studying abilities and showed little sympathy.
While I’ve had some extremely stressful moments and I did contemplate dropping out especially due to my health and the lack of help or recognition from the university. I believe that it’s still been a good experience as most of the modules I’ve enjoyed if I’ve had questions they have been answered. My accommodation and college have been a great places for me mentally as I’m surrounded by people my own age. The library was relatively always accessible and was a great different four walls.
I’ve heard nothing on this
With the few in person things I had this year for tutorials it’s was nice as we could talk after, however they didn’t always make it clear what needed to be done before these in person thing. All my lectures were recorded this year which is disappointing but covid. Though most was okay and there was discussion boards to ask questions sometimes lectures were as forth coming as I think you could be in person.
The accommodation is lovely, we live on the newly built John snow complex and the rooms are lovely and so the kitchens; which great for socialising with your flat mates though these been some trouble with the internet and the laundry as some people leave there things in the machine for a longgggg time !
I’m actually struggling with some really really bad mental and physical health issues of current and though they have put some concessions in they haven’t really checked on me.
Covid hindered a lot of the social aspects of Durham this year but academically very fulfilling. There was always new content to keep up to date with, however, feedback was inconsistent.
There are multiple career talks and emails over the course of the year
This year, as a result of Covid, all my contact hours were online. The 20 hour week schedule was maintained through the release of content every day for the 6 modules I take.
The science site is very central and makes it easy to get from one lecture to another (before covid). The site has excellent labs and a lot of options for lunch.
The support is there, but the advertising of it is very over the top; to the point it dissuades many people from it.
Teaching experience during term 1 was relatively good but I felt very detached during term 2 while studying at home. I feel that there has been a lack of consideration for how difficult this year has been
Have been career activities but personally have found these uncomfortable as they have been online, definitely could be more support
Blended learning in first term with relatively good teaching, online since which has seen a dramatic drop in quality; contact with tutors was available although I didn’t make use of this so am unsure how quick/useful responses were
Have not had the change to use them due to Covid-19
Clear that these services are available but am unsure of the quality as I have not had to use them
My university experience has been excellent in terms of the people I have met and the college I am at. However, online learning was no substitute for in person teaching and I feel my course could be more practical.
Mostly good but music practice rooms are lacking in some areas
I think the uni could have made more effort to do in person teaching and more in person events, especially in first term when we weren’t in a lockdown. Online teaching is not the same and means you can’t meet anyone from your course.
It has been perfectly okay. Considering the global situation, I think my university has done fairly well. I just wish they had opened some study spaces, even outdoor ones. It also goes without saying that socialising was very difficult this year.
I signed up for two weekly emails about emails and job opportunities in my field.
I only had two in-person sessions this entire academic year. I wouldn't have minded this lack of contact if the online lectures had been better, but almost all of my lecturers took the fact that their lectures were recordings online to do a lecture that was two or three times longer than if it had been in person! Really frustrating. Also, the libraries and study spaces were closed the majority of the year, so I was stuck in my small room trying to study and focus, which was a nightmare because I need to separate my sleep space from my study space.
The one time the library was open it was big and lovely, so I can't wait to use it next year. Sports also resumed halfway through the year which was an appreciated change.
They seem okay but not very approachable. The staff in my department don't appear very friendly either whenever I have a concern.
I enjoy classes in person more, but obviously with the pandemic, we have to do what we have to and take our classes online. Therefore, I don’t think this year has been value for money given that I have still to pay £23100 for this year as an international student. However, lecturers and staff members are really supportive and amazing. I love them!
We have the career service which readily available. Students just have to book an appointment to meet with them if they want to use the service. Due to the pandemic, these appointments are online.
Classes were in person in my first year and first half of second year. Due to the pandemic, since March 2020 (in my second year), all my classes were and have still been online.
Durham Uni has a collegiate system just like Oxford and Cambridge. Not every college has a library, but I was in John’s and we have a library, which was built during my first year so I would say it’s still a relatively new facility but I enjoy using it. Cleanliness, equipment hire, other services and facilities are all amazing. It’s just a lot of walking overall, which is healthy but could be overwhelming at times.
We have welfare officer (usually a student), the welfare team (the group of students who work with the welfare officer), disability representative (usually a student), senior tutors (hired by the college) in each of our college for mental health and/or disability support.