Blog: Reflections on Student Satisfaction – Part 2
Last month the Scottish Funding Council published the Student Satisfaction and Engagement Survey report which shows that college student satisfaction levels are at a five year high. Colleges Scotland has invited two voices from Dundee and Angus College to reflect on the figures, and on what the college delivers for them, and with them, around the student experience.
Part 2, by Sarah Rennie, Strategic Communications Officer and previous Students’ Association Team Leader, Dundee and Angus College
I started my learning journey at college, and I’ve worked really closely with students in my previous role as Students’ Association Team Leader at Dundee and Angus College, and now I’m in an operational role as Strategic Communications Officer.
I’d say the first step in delivering success for students and providing a great college experience is recognising the transformative power of education in a college environment.
The college’s commitment to collaborations and putting the students at the heart of everything we do is highlighted through the partnerships with academic departments, support teams, and leadership teams, and of course our students. There’s been a positive cultural shift because collaboration is at the core of what we do.
By promoting collaboration, we have removed barriers and put the student voice at the heart of all college initiatives, fostering a culture of change and inclusivity. This impact has been seen clearly this year with a further increase in (the already high) student satisfaction as measured through the Scottish Funding Council’s Student Satisfaction and Engagement Survey. This satisfaction has increased to 96.7% satisfied in 2022/23 – an increase of almost 5% in two years and satisfaction that is almost 8% above the sector average.
And, maybe uniquely, Dundee and Angus College has embedded Service Design methodology, which I think makes a huge difference.
By embracing the Service Design ethos, the Students’ Association and college have redefined the student voice at Dundee and Angus College with strong and visible representative training and feedback systems. For example, student rep training has been transformed through innovative digital learning – this was improved by focusing on digital literacy and meta-skills and redesigning the training using service design and flipped classroom methodology. This produced a much more a holistic emphasis on leadership development, adaptability, collaboration, and sustainability, from the planning stage to implementation. So this co-designed programme centres on interpersonal and co-operative skills, leading to the enhancement of the overall student experience.
Lastly, and I can say hand on heart that everyone at Dundee and Angus College understands this, is that there is a deep acknowledgement across our organisation that the college has a critical role to play as a gateway to a new life. We recognise that students come from all walks of life, with hugely varying experiences and backgrounds, abilities and talents. Our students are often returning to us as adult learners who have not engaged with the traditional education system or are back into education after a long period away, and these students are learning alongside young people, some of whom might not have engaged well during their school years. Knowing this and acknowledging this is paramount to creating an inclusive and empowering positive environment.
I’d say that college is chance to get into education or back into education and realise your dreams, it can be the start to a new life and a new career and even take you places that you did not know were possible. I know this for myself as I was asked to leave school at the age of 16 and thought that I was not the type of person who would go on to do anything academic, but after returning to education through the college I was able to go on to gain an honours degree and return to work in the place that it all happened for me. It has been a chance to inspire others – that if I can do it, so can they – as well as to give back and change the lives of countless other students just as I had the privilege of doing. College is a choice, and it is a positive choice for so many, and in recognising the impact that we have on individuals we can create and contribute towards the best possible student experiences for so many.
The success of Dundee and Angus College in student satisfaction is not just a statistical achievement but a testament to the efforts of innovative approaches, collaborations and partnerships and embedding a culture of change where the students are at the heart of everything they do for themselves as individuals, and what we do as a college to support them.