Your feedback, through the Student Opinion Survey (SOS), Academic Council and Ideas to Action helps us identify ten key issues affecting students at the University.

We are now into the 8th year of the SU Bath Top Ten and following on from key wins last year such as securing a physical expansion of the gym, establishment of the Waste Reduction Task and Finish group, reviewing the personal tutor system and collaborative working with the CLT to look at assessment and feedback, we are looking to work again with the University to enhance the student experience here in Bath. Over the summer we've worked to establish our Top Ten list for this year, based on a whole host of student feedback and consulting staff members across the University. It's clear that as the years go on, the expectations of students are increasing and all stakeholders need to be continually working hard to provide an excellent student experience.

Top Ten Background

Our Top Ten for 17/18 is a broad and ambitious list but one that we feel very much reflects the needs of the student body at Bath. Should you have any questions, feedback or advice on how we might move forward with any of these issues, please contact us at suofficers@bath.ac.uk

This year we will work with the University on the following issues:

Improve the quality and quantity of study spaces

Space has been a hot topic with students for a number of years and was again highlighted as an area of improvement within the most recent iteration of the NSS. With the rise of student numbers and the capacity of the Library being at maximum during peak times such as exams, students are wanting more accessible learning commons that meet their needs and expectations. We want to look at the existing study spaces available to see where space can be opened up and to ensure that these study spaces meet the quality expectations of students. We are hoping for investment within study spaces to ensure that they have a pleasant environment to work in and so that students can maximise their learning within those spaces. We will also work on a departmental level to look the study spaces available to their students and to identify areas to improve study spaces on a departmental and faculty level.

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Reassess the requirement for students to submit hard copies for printed coursework and dissertations

With students now being the main contributor to university finances they are looking to get the most value out of their money. Students have raised issues with the cost of printing mandatory coursework and dissertations on top of the fees they already pay. Some courses in particular have a high printing requirement that the students have to pay for and the perception on “double submission” exacerbates the perception of cost and “waste” of money. Alongside this, student have raised environmental concerns of excessive printing and the added stress of ensuring that physical copies are printed, bound and submitted on time.

We aim to look at each department alongside the Academic Reps to identify key areas of improvement with submission. Advocating for a paperless submission if possible or look at areas where costs can be reduced, removed or covered.

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Ensure the quality of supervision is consistently high for all doctoral students

Supervision is key to the research, experience and satisfaction of our doctoral students. Through a variety of feedback mechanisms, such as PRES, PG student experience research, PG forums and through our Postgraduate Academic Reps, doctoral students have raised concerns around the quality and consistency of supervision across the University.

We want to identify what the issues are, and how our doctoral students want to see supervision strategies and practices going towards. Ensuring that supervision remains at a consistently high standard across the University and that training and oversight practices exist to reduce and eliminate problematic incidences before they occur.

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Embed sustainability within the formal curriculum and wider university environmental practices

Students are increasingly becoming concerned with the environmental impacts of their activities but also from the practices of the University. When students graduate they want to be ethically concerned citizens alongside their academic achievements. Research conducted by NUS has found that over 80% of students believe that Sustainable Development should be incorporated and promoted by universities and over two thirds of students believe that Sustainable Development should be taught in their university courses.

We hope to work to a more sustainable University by examining our environmental practices and finding key initiatives that can be adopted to make a more green university, with a focus on the investment priorities of the University and work towards a complete divestment of fossil fuels. We also want to ensure that the curriculum incorporates sustainability issues and to engage students within the topic of sustainability.

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Secure commitment to a location and timeframe of building full sized 3G sports facilities on campus

Having been on a previous Top Ten (2013/14) students are again calling out for a 3G pitch. With the reputation of the sporting activity being so high for the University of Bath, a lack of a 3G pitch is harming the developmental and training opportunities of our sports clubs and students.

We are aiming for a commitment to building a 3G pitch, obtaining planning permission and to secure a timeframe for when this will be created. Alongside this, to work with the University and Sports Department in constructing a 3G Pitch training area and when the 3G pitch is created that students are prioritised to use that space.

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Enhance the conditions, training, and development opportunities for postgraduates who teach

In PRES 2017, only 57% of GTA’s felt they had been adequately trained which placed us lowest in GW4 and near the bottom of the sector. Supporting out GTA’s is imperative so those postgraduates feel valued by the University. The ability of our GTA’s to effectively carry out their role has an impact on the students they teach as well.

We want to see an implementation of a full training programme and comprehensive induction training in place for these students. We also want to look at their working conditions and to ensure parity across departments where gaps come to light.

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Provide focused mental health support across the student community

There has been a 20% year on year increase in the amount of students accessing the counselling and wellbeing service within the University. Through previous research, we also know there are significant steps to be taken to ensure that we are actively supporting the improvement of the mental health of our students, especially postgraduates and International students.

We want to build on the work that has been conducted in previous years on mental health, and to create a consistent and actioned strategy to actively improve the mental health of our students. We also want to look at the support that is given to students who experience particular devastating events, such as sexual assault, and look at the steps to support postgraduate and international students.

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Improve space provision for students in the Edge

With students actively looking to enhance their development and social aspects of university life alongside their academic careers, the opportunities for students to get involved with recreational activities is of high importance. Societies provide an excellent avenue to students to involve themselves in the arts and much more, and looking at how space in the Edge is used is a high priority for these students, especially when students are not prioritised over commercial bookings and conferences.

We want to ensure that the space within the Edge building meets the needs of students and student groups. We also want to see students prioritised in the usage of existing space on campus, as well as looking at how the space can be adapted or expanded to better student recreational activities.

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Ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the university infrastructure

The University remains a very inaccessible institution for our disabled students. With the physical campus remaining inaccessible in parts, some students have difficulty in utilising space as opposed to the wider student body. Student have also highlighted other aspects of the university, such as the website, as being inaccessible for students with disabilities.

We want to ensure a campus and University that is accessible for all, from the physical buildings to the Universities activities and practices. We want to have a disabled representative on all new build approval committees to ensure that accessibility is in at the beginning rather than implemented retrospectively. We also want to ensure DDA compliance with all university webpages and to find solutions together on other issues highlighted by the disabled student body.

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Review current processes to ensure students have an effective understanding of plagiarism

The Academic Integrity test is “Past its sell-by-date” and students are running afoul of plagiarism rules due to a coherent lack of understanding or training. In addition certain student demographics, such as postgraduate and international students, have a particular high number of incidences.

We want a complete review and overhaul of the academic integrity test, ensuring it meets with the needs and aims of the University and Students on plagiarism. We also want to disseminate and adopt good practice from departments, such as allowing students to run their work through Turnitin before submission.

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