Posts Tagged ‘higher education’

Leeds Conservatoire students doing environmental recordings. Credit - Cat McEvoy

Conservatoire students are ‘going wild’ for sustainability

Leeds Conservatoire students have been recording the sounds of nature as part of a sustainability push by Yorkshire’s higher education (HE) institutions.

The Conservatoire initiative is featured in a new Yorkshire Universities (YU) report which describes an array of sustainability projects that are being undertaken by local HE providers.

The Good Practice Guide for Engaging Students with Sustainability through Service Learning also highlights how the regional HE sector’s collaboration efforts with external partners are helping students obtain real-world opportunities to use their skills to address local sustainability issues.

The guide is designed as a blueprint that can be used by other institutions wishing to drive student engagement with sustainability. It is the culmination of a 15-month, £20,000 pilot project funded by the UPP Foundation which included an audit of the extent to which the 12 YU member institutions embedded sustainability in their curricula.

Learning from the great outdoors

As part of the pilot, all 12 YU member institutions were given £1,000 to use towards boosting Sustainability Service Learning activity and providing experiential learning opportunities. Leeds Conservatoire enabled its students to carry out environmental field recordings and the feedback was very positive.

One said: “I really enjoyed exploring Leeds through a new lens and perspective, as well as having the opportunity to take field recordings through a variety of types of microphones which included zoom, shotgun, hydrophone and contact.

“I found exploring the way the natural world changed as we drew closer to the centre of the city especially interesting, and the discussions that it provoked were highly useful in creating a greater understanding of our relationship with nature.”

A further £3,000 was assigned as prize money to a Multi-University Challenge Day, organised in December 2023, which brought together 36 students – with a diverse set of skills and backgrounds – from across the 12 regional institutions.

The students were asked to form groups and develop ideas on how to engage more learners with sustainability – a topic that directly aligns with the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission Regional Climate Action Plan. The winners were then invited to give a presentation at the annual Student Sustainability Research Conference.

An inspirational pilot to engage more students

Monika Antal, Assistant Director at Yorkshire Universities, said: “YU is proud to have led this pilot and we hope this guide will inspire other institutions to learn from what works in our experiences across the region.

“The project demonstrated there is significant value for universities working in partnership to address sustainability challenges through Service Learning, which benefits communities as well as offering students valuable real-world opportunities and experiential learning.

“We also discovered that community partners benefit from a diverse range of student perspectives and small amounts of funding can help to engage a wider range of students who would otherwise not have got involved.”

Richard Brabner, Executive Chair at the UPP Foundation, added: “Embedding local sustainability projects within the curriculum is great news for the towns and cities universities are from, great news for students who learn vital skills for the workplace, and great news for universities as it improves their reputation. We were proud to fund this project and warmly welcome the report. We hope it inspires more student sustainability initiatives across the higher education sector.”

Students at University Centre Leeds

Scoring high on student satisfaction

Student satisfaction rates at University Centre Leeds (UC Leeds) and Leeds Conservatoire have once again been ranked as some of the best in the country.

UC Leeds outscored other local higher education providers – including Leeds Arts University, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Trinity University and the University of Leeds – in six of the seven categories in the 2023 National Student Survey (NSS).

Those included quality of course teaching (93%), learning opportunities (88%), academic support (92%) and assessment and feedback (just under 92%).

UC Leeds was ranked above the national average in most areas of the survey too, including on a newly introduced question about mental wellbeing support. Over 88% of its students, compared to 81.6% nationally, said they were happy with the information that was provided about such services.

Glowing feedback ‘a credit to our teams’

Dean of Higher Education at UC Leeds, Dr Sarah Marquez, said: “We are really pleased with this fantastic feedback, which is a testament to the hard work of our teaching and support teams. It is wonderful to hear that so many of our students have been pleased with the quality of our courses and instruction.

“It is particularly pleasing to see improved ratings in several areas where we were already scoring highly, including teaching and academic support. Satisfaction in learning resources, meanwhile, jumped by nine percent – from 72.5% to 81.6% – which reflects our recent investment in facilities like our fantastic new digital hub.

“Our goal is always to deliver high calibre education along with outstanding experiences, including talks from inspiring speakers and visits to outstanding workplaces, to our students.

“These wonderful survey results show how much such initiatives are valued and will spur us on to even greater things.”

Leeds Conservatoire students performing Macbeth at Leeds Playhouse. Photo credit – Abby Swain

Hitting the high notes

Leeds Conservatoire, meanwhile, achieved the highest scores of any UK conservatoire in two of the survey’s categories – for assessment and feedback, and organisation and management. The specialist provider of higher music and performing arts education also scored above the national average for conservatoires in all seven areas.

Those results were music to the ears of Leeds Conservatoire Principal, Professor Joe Wilson. He said: “We’re so proud of this year’s NSS results and are thankful to our staff for their continued commitment, and to our students for recognising the conservatoire with this fantastic feedback.

“Leeds Conservatoire has a national and international reputation for creativity and innovation, and for being a truly contemporary specialist teaching institution.

“Our staff and industry partners are at the cutting edge of their creative disciplines, and our students are encouraged and supported to explore their individual artistic identities.”

More than 339,000 students took part in the 2023 NSS to rate their experiences of higher education.

The Office for Students, which manages the survey, updated the format this year following a public consultation.

Website designed and built by Web Phizix