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
Covid has seriously impacted this year. Online lectures have not been worth the money we’ve paid as well as the limited access to facilities. Speaking to tutors and lecturers over Zoom isn’t the same and the assessed work being made harder was unfair.
I have spent over a year working from home and doing online study. There have challenges in terms of workload and assignment deadlines occasionally but I have managed to organise my time efficiently. Although, it has been difficult socially as I have not been able to go to society events and take part and therefore it’s been difficult to make new friends.
There are a number of work experiance opportunities, internships and other career support for students in every year which is helpful for long term career plans.
My course is taught online with daily lectures and seminars uploaded. I have regular meetings with my lectures to discuss thoughts on various issues, upcoming assignment ideas and receive further support throughout my course. Although it was difficult at the beginning of the year as I had to adapt to a new routine and educational changes, I am now confident when delivering my assignments as I have received a lot of support. My university has acknowledged the inconvenience the pandemic has brought and thus I have received maximum support where needed.
The accessibility of services is up to a good standard. I mainly use the library and other shared study spaces to complete assignments and other work. There are also a range of study and research materials available for majority of the courses which is helpful.
The well being support is helpful as each school has their own well-being officer who can provide practical and emotional support. You can also book appointments with the mental health support services who can guide and support you if you are having a difficult time.
My overall experience has been very good, managed to meet and make a lot of friends despite lockdown restrictions making it very hard to socialise. Academically the university has provided all the resources I have currently needed such as the library both physical and online.
Not been on campus this year so not had the best experience , but online uni has been okay and manageable . Teaching online has been okay but in person teaching allows you to confidently speak and engage with lectures as online it can be intimidating. Online learning can be hindered with network issues which is a real problem in exam time. overall the academic year has been manageable but would have preferred some face to face sessions.
Career webinars are given , resources are provided to give ideas for future jobs.
Due to covid teaching online has been great, allows you to get through work at your own pace . Tutors support has been okay overall a decent experience of learning this year due to the current situation .
Not really used any this year as no face to face teaching however the uni has great research facilities very modern.
I'm transferring for a number of reasons but I wouldn't necessarily tell someone not to go here - just not for me. If you need somewhere with good student support, and a course that is consistently engaging then maybe look elsewhere
Career service send a lot of emails for talks and events etc.
Depends on the subject how enjoyable the lectures are. Philosophy department for example really brilliant, but have only really enjoyed one of my English modules so far. Personal tutor really great.
SU nights expensive, and the guild makes a lot of processes difficult for societies. The officers have generally been good at voicing issues though.
Tiny kitchen that was always overtaken by flatmates and their friends so found myself eating at strange times lol. Very old fashioned, sometimes damp smelling. Wouldn't recommend even for price
Good facilities but difficult to book with lots of societies wanting to use them (dance studio in particular)
Close to city centre but quite a long walk from guild where student union nights happen. Haven't explored city outside of Bullring really but know there's a lot on offer, generally good
The only thing that has made uni bareable, so many societies to choose from. Made most od my friends this way.
Took about 6 weeks for wellbeing to schedule me a counselling session, by that point I was so ill I went via a charity for help. Wellbeing lady I spoke to in the end was lovely but said if I was seeing another counsellor (who I only had one session left at the time anyways) they had to give my sessions to someone else. Very short on staff.
The management have repeatedly demonstrated their sheer disregard for students and their well-being. Mental health wait times are 2-3 months. Student demands are ignored. Staff are underpaid. Do not study here.
Course is fine. Do not study at this university as management have no regard for students.
Selly is overpriced and landlords are vultures. Uni do nothing to help with this, don’t study here.
They’re one of the largest student populations in the country and they reportedly hire 2 mental health councillors. Do not study here.
I was really looking forward to this uni. I had read some good reviews and heard some excellent experiences from former students and friends. however, my experience was awful. I would never recommend a Russell group university to anyone.
tutor support was non existent. was told by the Dyslexia Specialist Support Tutor as a graduate from a metropolitan university my standard was below there's. I was also told by a tutor who specialised in mental health, that as I am dyslexic I cannot read. I was told that I had more support from another tutor than any other student including a phone call, upon informing that we had never spoken on the phone I went to meet with them to be told that my e-mail address that I had initially e-mailed her on was unprofessional when It was the first and last initial of my name. During my law lecture upon informing I had to leave 30 mins early for a screen test and where / how could I catch up on the missing work, I was told that I would miss out on what was taught. I was told and had informed ALL staff that I was using a recording device for lectures / seminars to support my studying, however upon meeting with a teacher and this being agreed, I was made to turn it off. I was told that she would not speak to me until I turned the recording off and deleted it. or I was to leave the meeting. ( this was for support for an assignment). whilst obtaining my placement, I was told off for sending the co-ordinator a thank you e-mail for their help, as I hadn't copied in the placement. I was informed that all communication must be transparent and honest between parties or I would not receive any further responses from the co-ordinator again. However, my placement was changed and I had not been informed until last minute, upon complaining I was told that it was not professional and if I was to do that in work, I would not be in a job. I was also informed that if I make a complaint again against the member of staff in question, they would not find me a placement and would make my life incredibly difficult during my time at university. However, again, I informed by a placement that I was no longer to attend their due to my assignment failure, however, I had not been informed my of results, but the new placement had....I was also told that I MUST ACT INTERESTED in the placement as they had worked extra hard to find this placement, baring in mind it was outside b'ham / soulihill area and I was able to source it myself due to known contacts. again, I asked if I could take my recorder, this was agreed and then upon arriving I was told I couldn't. thus struggling to remember everything. My Practice Tutor had changed several times during my placement and I was constantly in the firing line. once I sent an e-mail to a PT starting with Hi, can I asked another quick question, to my dismay I received a very prompt response informing who I must address them as Mrs ,,,,, I was then, who met with me and my PE, told my PE that I had been failing in other subjects and that I struggled and this should reflect my final placement / portfolio grade. even though, prior to this meeting the PE informed me that she didn't understand the grading system, upon explaining them, she was due to provide a higher grade that I received. Even though I was commended by the head of service for my work with 2 families and re-engaging them with the service. Since leaving this university ,I've worked in Children's and Adults Social Services with no issues and offer of social work MA again. however, this awful awful awful study experience has put me off. I have had a look at the HCPC and cannot see that this course is approved by them.
poor wifi and lack of study facilities
awful, if a mental health social worker, who has published books around mental health even consider let alone say out loud that someone with dyslexia cannot read...
I have no words, a complete waste of time and money. Useless staff from the admin office to the finance and tutors. Tutors do not respond to student's concerns and when they do is very shallow and defensive. Students' voice are not taken into consideration. They didn't have lecturers to teach whole modules and we were sent home to do self-directed learning. This basically means that you go home and look on google if you want to learn something. Lectures recorder online (before Covid19!) The quality of teaching was below any standard. No support from personal tutors, who take the maximum time that they are allowed to respond to emails. Very defensive and arrogant members of staff in the Social Work department. Tutors have very minimal qualifications, very few with PhDs. Overall, I'm glad that I managed to get a qualification but I would never go back there!!!
There were no teachers available and the one who teach there are under-qualified
I have really enjoyed my course and met some amazing people, but difficulty in my personal life, coupled with a university that doesn't seem to care has led to an overall experience that is not great. It has been a difficult few years that I don't expect to look back on fondly.
There are a number of careers events, but these are often during lectures which makes them difficult to attend. I found a distinct lack of resources to find specific advice on particular career paths, as it was all very vague and general. Lots of posting stuff with no real meaning, so it looks like you have loads of resources, when in reality, they are not helpful at all.
We are taught by interesting people who are top researchers in their field. However, being a research-based university means that some of the teaching leaves a lot to be desired. It can feel like you as a student are very much an afterthought in the busy lives of important researchers who sometimes lecture a bit on the side.
I found that I wasn't always aware of how the Students' Union was working to help us. There wasn't much advertisment of what they were doing at a given time. During COVID, they did push for fairer treatment of all students, but nothing ever came of it. It seems the university said no to their demands and that was it. Case closed. "Sorry guys, we tried".
Selly Oak is not a very safe area at all. Students report that they have been broken in to on an almost daily basis. There are also regular reports of individuals or groups being followed by men exposing/pleasuring themselves in public. Despite a number of complaints and constantly asking the university to help, they have done next to nothing to rectify this. There is a free shuttle bus that runs from campus into Selly Oak, which has been helpful to a number of students, but this is simply not enough to make people feel safe in their own homes. Condition of most houses is not great. Landlords claim all houses are professionally cleaned between tenants. If I was a professional cleaner and left houses in the state that a lot of them are left in, I wouldn't expect to have a job for much longer. Student landlords truly are a terrible bunch of scammy people. Even the nice ones still massively overcharge (expect anywhere between £80 - £140 per week, dependingon how recently the house has been decorated and proximity to uni) for what is well below average housing. I'm not sure this is specific to Birmingham, however. It is very likely a national issue. Housing is mostly very close to campus. 20 minutes is considered a long walk by most standards at Birmingham.
Facilities are very good. New research facilities were a great addition to the uni. The Green Heart, however, £1 million (I think) to put in a bit of grass and some flowers. Many students were angry about this.
Very helpful to be so close to the centre of Birmingham. Getting to and from university from most of the country is relatively easy. Even international travel is doable, as there is an airport a short train ride away.
There are a lot of great sports and societies, although you have to go looking for some of them. Advertising is not always obvious, although there is a sports and societies fair every freshers week.
Absolutely diabolical. Mental health and personal support is seriously inadequate. It is near impossible to see anyone from the college welfare team, as they run drop-in sessions for very short periods in the day that are often during lectures. Once you do get to see anyone, they are woefully unequipped to deal with anything other than "I'm stressed about my workload". Counselling services are few and far between, with a HUGE waiting list. If you do finally get to see someone, you are offered 6 sessions with a counsellor, who you may or may not get on with and then you must rejoin the waiting list if you wish to have more sessions. The extenuating circumstances (mitigations for things that may have affected your grades) procedure is so invasive that it is enough to put anyone going through a difficult time off reaching out for help. The mitigations offered are very much limited to retaking exams or extending deadlines, which is entirely unhelpful if you are dealing with longer-term problems. Reasonable adjustment plans (RAPs) do exist for longer-term issues, but require a formal diagnosis from a doctor for 11 months or longer. There is also a real lack of impartial advice on what the best course of action is. You are left to make many big decisions that may affect your future completely alone. If you miss the deadline to apply for something that may really help you in your studies because of a lack of helpful advice, then that's just hard luck. In terms of academic feedback, it is very dependent on the member of staff. Some offer helpful feedback on marked work and are always available to email/meet for additional support. Others only ever offer generic feedback, only some of which that actually applies to you, and never answer emails with specific questions etc.
Daunting. It's a very scary place at the beginning - homesickness is a real issue. However, once you settle down, it becomes so much easier than you'd ever believe. Regarding the social aspect of it though it's not as amazing as it's made out to be, in all honesty. It's very stressful and you may feel like you can't go on at times, but you definitely can and just need to push through.
At my University, they offer a placement year which is extraordinary helpful in increasing employability chances. They also have numerous advisors you can speak to if struggling with this aspect.
I like that they're varied - I have lectures, seminars, and workshops to keep my brain stimulated. What I like the least is the really early starts where everyone is tired and it's hard to concentrate.
Not bad, however not overly popular and people prefer to go elsewhere to socialise. Facilities are basic, and not what you'd really expect.
Regarding safety, I always felt safe. I felt safe because the building was fob access only, and therefore only students could get in. I also felt safe as there was security available all night. Regarding condition - it was perfect. I had an en-suite room, kitchen and a hallway. The decor was simplistic but nice and well done. The room gave me everything i could possibly need, and more. Although small, it was comfortable. Location was excellent - normally they are right by campus so you don't have to walk far to get to university. However, some accommodations are not near town, so transport is required and should be taken into account when booking. Cost is half and half really, it is quite expensive for what it is, but it includes all bills which is fantastic. However, it usually does not cover laundry costs and they usually total about £5 a wash.
Not bad, however it's a small campus and therefore does not have as much as some other universities. We have a reasonably sized library, but not much else.
My university was in an excellent location. My accommodation was right on campus and took only 5 minutes to walk to lectures. Regarding local amenities (such as the city centre) it was only a 10 minute walk, which was a huge bonus.
Not that great. They're very niche, so can be confusing sometimes. Not a huge variety either.
Academic support is very good - the lecturers are always there to speak to you and reply to any emails that you have. They also have designated time slots to book an appointment with them. Regarding personal issues, it's a little lacklustre and we're not really informed about the services