Communication and University Student engagement: A call for inspiration

I have said it before and I will say it again, I never thought working with students would be this challenging. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy it and minus some of the sexual health advice points this article pretty much sums up my working life 

I work with Business School students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and I regularly seek feedback from them about the way I communicate with them. I started off my role with my own student experience very much in mind when it came to trying to illicit responses from students but wanted to ensure I remained up to date (read: “down with the kids” if you must) so I have done surveys, focus groups and have spoken to students informally- always encouraging complete honesty about my approach. And I have hit a slight stumbling block.

Students have told me (each year)

We don’t have many social opportunities outside drinking and careers talks.

We don’t hear about things that are going on

We need reminders – don’t just send me 1 email to tell me about something I need at least 1 more email to remind me something is happening

Some emails we get are too long

I have now tried/heard/witnessed

I provide tea and coffee meet ups with free refreshments and sometimes we don’t have many of them attend (despite trying to work around timetables)

They have said to me and to some of my colleagues “you email us too much!” when asked for an alternative approach they have said “Could you put emails into one so we don’t get multiple messages?” but also tell me they don’t read long emails with multiple points buried in them…

The only consistent message I have from them is that if we do contact them it needs to be on email, facebook, twitter – as many channels as possible.

The automatic reaction I will get from some people reading this is that I can’t please everyone and/or I probably try too hard… but I just think it’s a shame when students don’t take up opportunities to help shape their own experience at uni. I know I didn’t make use of everything I should have while at uni and I definitely regret it.

I am very lucky that a colleague of mine has agreed to meet up for lunch next week to try and give me some inspiration and a fresh perspective on things. I know that there is no one size fits all approach   BUT if there is anyone out there who works with students; perhaps you are support staff, working in comms and marketing or in a student’s union team who could shed some light on this, I would be really grateful. Equally if you’re a student please let me know your thoughts as well.

 It’s sad that so close to Christmas I feel a certain lack of motivation…so spread the festive cheer and leave me some comments and share this post 🙂

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Author: eemaa27

Blogging and reflecting to keep my writing skills in tune

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