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
With Covid restrictions, most of my year was spent online and over half of my time spent living at home. I do think the teaching couldn’t have been delivered in a more suitable way but online learning was not easy. Not only was the academic side difficult but it was also tricky to meet people outside of your hall or those with similar interests as many extra curricular events were not able to happen.
The school had tried to create a hybrid experience during the last year. It has been more successful foe certain modules that do not require lots of face to face contact but has not been equal as that in past years. Hybrid teaching can only be successful if the university itself provides the resources for staff and students to succeed. The school’s expectations on students to produce a similar quality of academic work is not possibles within the environment of a global pandemic. I am hopeful that will change in the coming years.
I think that St Andrews has done well during COVID but it has been difficult as I don’t know what I am missing. It has been somewhat difficult to engage but many professors have tried very hard.
I think a lot of it being bad is due to covid. Study spaces weren't open. Lectures were all online and (even worse) labs were almost exclusively online for first years. Overall meant limited contact with lecturers so felt quite cut off from the department. Don't feel the teaching has been of an equal quality to what it would have been if we had been in person. Limited feedback on submitted work- areas for improvement often vague and unhelpful.
Lots of career/intership talks etc
All lectures are precorded and practicals have mostly been online. Staff can be unwillingly to want to change how the course is run after recieving feedback. But overall ok.
Clean shared spaces, can get rented laptop for free if yours is broken, lots of computer rooms across the site.
No experience myself but haven't heard much bad
This year has obviously had its challenges but the university has done its best to provide for those on campus. They had in person small classes when possible and opened as many study spaces as they could for our exams as they recognised that studying in our flats everyday wasn’t optimal. Whenever there was a spike in cases everyone was encouraged to get tested which really helped keep the spread under control especially when my university is in such a small town. Adapting to online learning has been hard but the lecturers always done their best to accommodate everyone. Online lectures are less than ideal but having a mixture of live lectures and recorded really helped. As much as this year had its struggles I think the university done the most they could to support us through such a difficult time.
Overall, I would recommend St. Andrews for my course. I would like there to be more contact hours at honours, especially given we have missed so many at sub honours.
The community feel of the University is amazing! It really helps you integrate and be welcomed, especially when you come from a different institution as you moved from undergrad to postgraduate studies.
My PhD programme includes an industrial placement of three months that has to be outside academia and also in a completely different topic, and ideally field to your PhD project. This really helps you expand your skill set and explore your transferable skills!
The amount of effort being put in by the lecturers to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible is evident. However, the University keeps asking the lectures to do more and more, and it's obvious the lecturers are stressed and far too over worked and it can leach into the rest of the their work. The higher ups in the University should not place the full burden on organising the blended learning on the lecturers shoulders.
At my undergraduate uni (the University of Surrey) I really appreciated a 24 he library, it's annoying having come to St Andrews and no facilities are accessible 24/7. Sometimes I need to working at awkward times because of experiments and access to equipment, and during breaks I'd rather go a library to be near other people rather than in an empty office.
When I first contacted the mental health services they were quick to respond, which was amazing! I was then given a face to face meeting soon after (this was all pre-covid), but I was then signed up to online courses and left on my own to work through them. I really needed someone to push me to really interact with, reflect upon and get the most out of the online courses but I was really left out on my own.
Overall very good. Although I would have hoped for better and closer relationships to staff members like my tutors, as I feel like classes were often times impersonal and staff seemed uninterested in us
Ok tutorials, lectures are usually very big sub-honours
Few buildings are disabled friendly in town
Despite the challenges this year, my university had quickly adapted to online learning. Where possible they have made sure that students are kept safe and have provided testing which has helped many students return safely to campus.
The careers centre had really helped me with CV and interview preparation which was a huge help in securing my graduate role! They also have lots of information on their website about different career options and how to make a start.
Really great support especially through the pandemic! The school is always keeping in touch and my personal supervisor has been fantastic at helping me through the year! Regular emails are sent to update us about any changes and they were very quick to adapt to the pandemic and it’s challenges! All of our lectures are recorded and live sessions are run so there is a mix on offer.
Facilities like the union and libraries are up to date and always clean and tidy! Then only issue sometimes is that these spaces can get very busy and it’s sometimes difficult to find a space!
Well-being services are in place and have been really helpful for myself and many friends! The only issue is that the wait is sometimes too long.
This is just due to the circumstances given by covid, it has been a struggle to keep up with work and get myself into a routine of teaching myself as it is very much independent study. This academic year has been very mentally draining and difficult as it is so isolating. I know next year will be much better if everything is back to normal
Every week there is a bulletin for opportunities, companies and work experience, there is a lot of encouragement.
There is a clear contact for communication with tutors. However, some pre-recorded lectures lack enough notes or visual stimuli when teaching difficult concepts. As we are learning alone with no support, this is difficult to just listen and learn.
Due to Covid I have not experienced many of the facilities, however classrooms I have visited have been very clean and adhere to social distancing. The library is also very accessible.
There is a lot of awareness for mental health and 24 hour hotlines for support.