Students from across De Montfort University (DMU) gathered on Wednesday to ask questions about their university experience and what's happening to improve their time here, supported by De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU).
Course Reps, School Rep Coordinators (SRCs) and other interested students headed to The Venue@DMU on Wednesday afternoon for the first ‘Ask the Expert’ event, moderated by Professor Jackie Labbe, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at DMU.
Thom Chapman is a second-year Business and Globalisation student, and also the Course Rep for his programme. He said: “I think it was a really good event.
“The experts spoke really frankly about the issues that the university is facing, but it was also great to hear that they are actually listening to us, taking things on board and are there to support us.
“I think it’s really important for Course Reps to interact with the university, and I’d just like to thank both DSU and the uni for putting it on and for giving Course Reps a voice and making sure that we are heard and listened to. It feels really good.”
Ahtesham Mahmood, President of DSU, also took time to speak to students at the event, including Thom Chapman (left).
The panel consisted of 11 further experts from across the university, including;
- Ahtesham Mahmood, President of DSU;
- Jon Lees, Deputy Director of Student and Academic Services;
- Umesh Desai, Director of Estates;
- David Parkes, Director of Library and Learning Services;
- Tina Sharpe, Disability Services Manager;
- Adele Browne, Head of Careers and Employability;
- Pete Norman, Interim Director of Information Technology and Media Services (ITMS);
- Nicola Brooks, Associate Dean (Academic) for Health and Life Sciences;
- Christine White, Associate Dean (Academic for Art, Design and Humanities;
- Julia Cooke, Associate Professor for Business and Law;
- and Zoe Allman, Associate Professor (Student Experience) for Technology.
They answered questions on subjects ranging from buildings and facilities at DMU, to the time it takes for students to receive feedback on assignments and more.
The event was the brainchild of Professor Jackie Labbe. “This is the first time that we have put on an Ask the Expert panel for our student body,” she explained.
“This is to make sure that students can come and ask the questions that are important to them, and get absolute expertise in terms of the answers.
“In my own experience, I have found that it’s best to get people together in a room where you can actually talk to each other, bounce ideas off one another, and see where it can take you.
“As we saw in the room, one question led to another, which led to another, and we started to build up that bigger picture.”
Students were offered the chance to ask questions in person to the panel, and also submit anonymous issues to be answered more widely to the room. Some subjects cropped up more than others.
“Students clearly have certain areas that they are concerned about,” Jackie continued.
“They are concerned about facilities, equipment, and about support. They are concerned about assessment and whether or not it is working to help them with their learning, and we needed to hear that, because we need to know what student concerns are.
“But I think that [my] colleagues on the platform were able to give students assurances about what the university wants to do to make their learning as effective as possible.
“I am really grateful to DSU for helping us with this, to get students interesting in coming, and to work really productively with us on this.”
The expert panel was comprised of staff from areas of the university including ITMS, Student and Academic Services and Library and Learning Services, plus many more.
Ahtesham was one of the experts who formed the panel and faced questions regarding student representation at DMU.
He said: “I think this event was a step in the right direction for student feedback and also closing off that feedback loop.
“Sometimes issues are solved straight away, and it’s not necessarily fed back, or other times there are one or two reasons why that resolution might take extra time. That communication directly with students is something that has been lacking in the past, so I think this was a fantastic way to take active steps towards that.
“The questions were absolutely amazing. They were coming from a wide spectrum of students, and not just about ‘what can you do to help me?’ but addressing things that help other students.
“That’s the strength of our Course Reps and SRCs; they’re actively representing the academic interests of students across the board.”
Students also grilled an expert panel on the future of higher education at DSU Question Time last Friday. You can read more about that here.
Ahtesham was also part of the panel for the first ever Ask an Expert event.