Our dynamic, unique and, above all, effective, student support system
We recognise that important relationships are forged whist at university. These relationships are between students themselves, of course (friendships made at university are often lifelong) but there are also opportunities for personal enrichment, development and growth by way of engagement with academic members of staff. The first few weeks or months at university can often be an anxious time for new students as they often have to deal with, at the same time, being away from home, living somewhere new, making new friends and setting in to what is a new learning environment. University is not just a ‘big school’; university is, by its very nature, an intellectually demanding environment. Whether a new student or one with longer experience of being at university, life can throw at us all, student or other, both ‘local’ and ‘background’ challenges as the literature terms them.
We, in the School, fully understand and take account of this, and in addition to university-wide support we have in place internal mechanisms such as personal tutors as part of the Tutoring@Brunel scheme and our BBS Student Support Service which demonstrates that what we provide to students goes well beyond the standard/norm in the higher education sector. We, as academics, are as interested in supporting our students in their ‘personal journeys’ as much as we are in their ‘academic journeys’; and the two are interlinked.
We have a bespoke, transition-focused programme. It is novel and ground breaking in the sector.
Active Learning Opportunities
We have, for many years, ‘designed in’ active learning opportunities.
We do not assign a personal tutor to a student at random, as is the case in all other universities with which we are familiar. Instead, in the Business School, we carefully select those academic members of staff who are ideally suited to the role of being a personal tutor.
At other universities, the engagement with a personal tutor is usually by way of one-to-one, student-initiated, meetings in a personal tutor’s office. Whilst such meetings have some merit (and we offer them), during the first term of the first year, students in the Business School have opportunities for engagement with fellow students and their personal tutor in timetabled seminars that are part and parcel of the normal, standard ‘diet’ of lectures and seminars, that is, it is part of a ‘normal’ module forming part of the ‘normal’ degree programme.
Students have specific, targeted activities designed to assist them in taking greater responsibility for organising their own work than was the case before they came into higher education.
The motivation behind our first term, first year module is to help students improve some of the interpersonal skills which employers, and others in the community more widely, so value. This ‘support at the ‘point of delivery’ has many advantages. The Business School’s approach to the curriculum is novel, ground breaking.
This ‘personal tutoring’ continues throughout a student’s studies, that is, until they graduate. In addition to a personal tutor, Brunel Business School has a unique, dynamic and dedicated team of academic members of staff known as ‘BBS Student Support’, who are able to offer support and guidance on every single aspect of a student’s study, including:
- Personal development, social and non academic matters
- Academic matters independent of that provided by module leaders
- Academic-related matters
- Progression and concerns with their programme
- Their future career and plans
- When things go wrong (personal problems or illness affecting their studies, difficulties with student life)
- Information on where to get qualified advice and help within the university
And, rather than wait for days (or perhaps weeks) for a response, as can be the case in other universities with which we are familiar, BBS Student Support provides a guaranteed response within 1 working day. If it is a matter of great urgency, often within a matter of hours, or, as we have done on occasion, even minutes. BBS student Support also offers dedicated weekly drop-in sessions, no appointment needed, to meet a personal tutor on a one-to-one basis.
The School has a large, specially trained team of highly supportive and approachable administrative staff in what is known as the ‘Academic Programmes Office’ (APO). Available five days a week, all day every day except for public holidays when the University is closed, they are well placed to offer both excellent advice and support.
To conclude, we, in the Business School, understand the symbiotic relationship between ‘academic learning’ and ‘personal learning’ within the ‘academic process’. We have in place robust, tried-and-tested teaching and support systems which attest to our excellence in helping students develop their ‘capacity for success’.