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
Given the circumstances, I would say I have had a great experience in my first year. I lived in halls which meant I was able to meet some people and be involved in the Edinburgh community. I think the university’s ability to teach online also increased throughout the year. In semester 1 it was quite disappointing and there were a lot of problems across all 3 of my courses, but by semester 2 this has massively improved and I felt I was benefiting from good quality teaching
I have only had the experience of online learning so cant speak for in person. First semester it was honestly very bad, “tutorials” were non-compulsory discussion boards which no one did, and there was no contact with tutors. Lectures were prerecorded but good quality. In semester two, tutorials were on a call, and part of your grade (1% for every one you attend) and the lectures were live. Tutorials were far far better and I really enjoyed them. I preferred live lectures because it forced me to go to them rather than procrastinating, but that’s just personal preference, as the previous prerecorded lectures were also great quality
I didn’t have much access to them, but the library spaces were all great. They adapted well to COVID and turned a lot of classroom buildings into extra library space which could all be booked through an app
I was very lucky to have a great personal tutor/academic advisor who was super helpful. I worked with the student counselling service in semester one and they were not great, the counsellor made me feel uncomfortable and the wait times were bad. I also caught covid in this time so had to reschedule some appts which was hard to do
Without being able to use facilities in person, and with technical hikups and poor planning especially at the start of the year (the first few weeks of semester one, tutors seemed to be making it up as they whent along, with projects being incredibly poorly planned) - although tutor support improved towards the end of semester one, it boils down to this. Should a student be relatively self motivated - their was nothing that UoE or ECA provided that the student could not have done themselves (on the fine art course). Art History was much better, with pre-recorded lectures and tutorials being easily accessible and effective as learning tools. A mixed experience.
Only in the first year of a five year degree, so No Comment really, we've had guest speakers in and a little info if you ask tutors but that's all do far
Tutors have been largely available by email if I've had any questions, and we had one comprehensive tutorial every week on zoom. Considering the circumstances it could have been worse, although their is certainly room for improvement as far as providing students context for how much work is actually required, or what is valued for marking goes. This comes largely of consiquence of the fact that students might not be able to see other people's work - something especially important in the arts - and without tutors being able to engage physically with students projects, makes it harder for students and tutors to work effectively. Access to in-person facilities was obviously very limited, and understandably so, however this made for an ENOURMOUS disparity in students capacity to create work depending on their living or economic status - something I feel could have been delt with more effectively by the university.
The facilities themselves seemed very adequate, and had plenty of equipment for students to make use of, however accessibility was a huge issue.
I don't feel like I can comment particularly on this. We constantly recurved mental health check-up emails, and acsess to disability services was pretty easy - although I'm aware that some people where not made aware of what support was actually available to them.
Due to the limitations of covid being the only experience of university, I don’t doubt that my answers are effected drastically. In all honesty, I’ve managed to scrape passes and do the bare minimum. The support systems from the university , or lack thereof, have been few and far between. The course content has been good and I’ve enjoyed the writing. Practical bits and bobs have obviously been almost impossible
I started in second year so have not had the opportunity to fully utilise the resources due to covid
I am still glad I started studying this year regardless of it being online. I have still met some great people through staying at university accomodation and would not trade tha.
Fully online. 1 hour tutor session per week, per subject run online along with pre recorded lectures for subject
Didn't love COVID but love my uni. My professors were excellent and passionate, always there to help. They have been really supportive this year during the pandemic.
Loads of careers fairs so far and I'm only in year one
My lecturers and personal tutor etc have all been really helpful during the pandemic and very compassionate towards struggling students. I haven't enjoyed the blended learning as a while although some aspects of it are beneficial (recording the lectures etc and having the resources online)
Good gym and library and good access to online resources
During lockdown I feel the standard of learning has dropped significantly. It is difficult to get good marks as nearly no classes are attendance based therefore you don’t even need to show up. If more classes were more interactive then my learning experience would have been a lot better.
Currently fully online
Facilities are great, just wish there was more spaces for individual study
Mental health support is alright but it’s difficult during the pandemic as there isn’t much help available that isn’t through zoom
Fantastic . I loved almost every second of it. No regrets . If come back here time and time again. I pinch myself at how lucky I am to have had this incredible opportunity to learn on this course in this university. We are taught to a remarkably high standard. Very grateful
I could walk into 500 hundred jobs. It’s amazing. And there are good career services
Lots of contact hours. Lots of really incredible practical classes. Clinicians really want to teach and are very kind. You are very anonymous up until final year (even then...) there is mostly very bog group teaching, so it really isn’t until clinical rotations in the hospital that you get one on one time with clinicians
Unbelievable facilities. The models used for us to practice clinical skills on are seriously pricey. No expense is spared. And there are so many kind owners who donate their deceased pets’ bodies for our clinica teaching. There are amazing resources at our disposal throughout the degree
It’s alright. I think mental health support could be better. And it has gotten better since I started out. Luckily I have never had to use such facilities but I really don’t think they really understand or fully respect young people’s problems
Considering the circumstances I have enjoyed my year at University. It has caused my curiosity for science to grow and we have covered a large range of topics, many of which were informative and interesting. There are many enthusiastic lecturers who make learning fun. I have become good friends with my flatmates and also managed to meet a few people from my course too through group work and personal tutor. I look forward to a more conventional university experience in years to come and am excited to learn more about biomedical science.
We have been contacted regularly by the careers service and hopefully this is something that will be easier to be involved in once in-person sessions can resume. We had a couple of guest speakers and interesting debates that were outwith the course requirements but related to the current science world.
The biomedical course has been fully online this year due to Covid-19, however the staff have been extremely understanding of the circumstances. Most lectures were delivered through prerecorded videos, followed up by Q&A sessions with lecturers. More live classes could have been beneficial as it would allow for a more personal and 'normal' approach to teaching, although I understand that this isn't always possible. Labs were also provided online to aid in the understanding of practical work which although not ideal, will prepare us for lab sessions when in-person teaching can resume. The small group online tutorials with our tutors were really useful as it gave us the opportunity to go over any materials we didn't understand or had questions about. These sessions also gave us the opportunity to receive/ask about feedback from pieces of coursework and clarify marks. Although this hasn't been the ideal first year the course has been of great value. I have felt supported throughout the year and can't wait to learn more about biomedical science in the years to come. (For the following question I was unsure of the timeframe for the contact hours. It was around 3 hours per week, so 30 over the semester)
Although I only lived in halls for 3 months, I had a positive experience. The room I was assigned to was spacious and had all the furniture I needed. The communal kitchen was on the small side for 5 people and we ran into some difficulties as we only had one small fridge freezer between us and no couch, so any socialising had to be done around the kitchen table. The cleaning service was good and if we needed repairs in the flat, someone would be sent quickly.
The tutorial groups were great as they allowed us to create a bond with the tutor, which was nice as we had no in-person teaching. Some course organisers were better than others at providing mental health support, although on a university level I am unsure of the services available to me. I think this is something that could be advertised more within the university as it could help more people if it was made more accessible. I can't comment on the disability support as this does not apply to me.
Although content given is of a very high standard, the overall mental health support is very poor. Students are left to fend for themselves with counselling waitlists often 2 months long.
My overall experience: UofE has provided excellent mental health support, but they could be doing so much more to ensure classes are face to face. Accommodation prices should have been slashed long ago, as well as tuition fees for most people. Instead of spending money on useless outdoor temporary buildings they should be supporting their students in their educational journey.
Online teaching is not fantastic, it can be the opposite of motivating and disappointing. But I am very appreciative of the amazing tutors and my personal tutor who have provided the best mental health and course support. Covid has rendered university entirely different to normal, so I don’t feel like a student but I have been able to get through the year due to the support available.