How London Met’s plans for success are bearing fruit
In August 2015, London Metropolitan University published a visionary Strategic Plan that aimed to guide the institution through a period of transition. Its creation was the result of eleven open meetings involving more than 400 members of staff; research carried out with 400 students; and over 130 written submissions.
The Plan outlined two key strategic aims for London Met – to improve student outcomes, and to achieve financial sustainability.
Since its launch, London Met’s student satisfaction score has enjoyed an upward trend, and graduate employment now stands at an all-time high of 95%.
Now, two years in, we reflect on what we’ve done so far to contribute to this success.
Since we launched the Strategic Plan in 2015, we have introduced a myriad of initiatives to help improve the outcomes of our students, brought together under the Programme for Improved Student Outcomes – or ‘PISO’.
The Peer Assisted Student Success (PASS) Scheme has increased student support and engagement, while the Student Led Module Feedback Scheme is making a genuine difference for students and staff.
Cecile Tschirhart, Head Student Experience and Student Outcomes at London Met, leads on the feedback scheme. She said: “In most universities, students review their modules at the end of the course, which means they themselves don’t benefit from the feedback. At London Met, we can make changes in real time. So, if a student tells us something in week five, we can say to them in week six that we’ve heard them, and by week seven there is a positive change made.”
The scheme sees students make suggestions or comments about what they like and don’t like about their course, which is then shared with the lecturers. They in turn involve the students in developing an action plan, before it is implemented.
“There are very few schemes like this,” says Cecile, “and none that ‘close the loop’ like we do. We make sure students know about the changes we’ve made as a consequence of their feedback.”
Last year, the scheme saw 20,000 comments from more than 7,000 students lead to the creation of nearly 800 action plans across the University. The scheme, which is run in collaboration with the Students’ Union, has proved popular with students.
Pathway to Gold
The Strategic Plan also sets out our ambition for all academics to hold recognised teaching qualifications. London Met has made great progress with this aim, smashing an initial target well ahead of schedule. It remains way above the sector average for qualified teachers, a fact the Vice Chancellor made in an opinion piece for The Telegraph in which he called for recognition of universities with high levels of qualified teachers in the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework.
This focus on teaching has seen rises in the teaching related areas of the National Student Survey. London Met now ranks above Russell Group institutions such as UCL, Queen Mary and the LSE for teaching quality.
However, arguably the biggest success so far in our Strategy has been the meteoric rise of London Met’s graduate employment scores. More than 95% of all 2016 London Met graduates are in work or further study six months after graduating, representing a huge improvement, up nearly 10% since 2014.
Again, the Strategic Plan has been integral to this success. The Work Related Learning module – signposted in the Plan - offers opportunities for all undergraduates to gain employment skills and experience through placements, live projects or by taking a special enterprise module in Accelerator.
Some 277 courses at London Met now have 100% graduate employment. This achievement, along with progress in student satisfaction, is key as we plot our pathway to Gold in the TEF.
The second key aim in the Strategic Plan was focused on securing the future of the University by addressing inefficiencies in our estate and structure, as well as innovating in our curriculum to attract more students.
This led to the One Campus | One Community project, which is transforming London Met through a range of projects, from new teaching and learning buildings to a reorganisation of our Schools.
One Campus | One Community has enabled the University to make savings, arrive at much more efficient ways of working to offer a better experience for students, and – for the first time in many years – invest meaningfully in our facilities. It will eventually see all the Schools co-located in Islington on a modern and inspiring campus.
Today, London Met is more financially secure, with reserves in the bank, student outcomes improving, staffing levels heading towards benchmark, and exciting building developments underway, from the brand new home for The Cass at Calcutta House, to the transformation of ‘C Block’ and ‘J Block’ at Holloway into new teaching and learning spaces.
Are we there yet?
Professor John Raftery, Vice Chancellor of London Met, is proud of what we’ve achieved together over the last two years, but isn’t taking his eye off the challenges ahead.
“Two years into our Strategic Plan, my overall message to colleagues is: thank you.
“It has not been easy. We have had to make difficult choices and we’ve implemented radical change, but we are now seeing the emerging benefits.
“Our progress with student satisfaction and graduate employment is extraordinary, but we have much more to do. It’s crucial that we remain focused on retention – on keeping our students motivated and engaged with their studies and guiding them towards successful outcomes. We also need to put considerable energies into helping our students secure the best grades possible through our approach to teaching and feedback.
“Our ambition is to improve outcomes for our students to a point where London Met achieves a Gold in the next Teaching Excellence Framework. I see no reason why this shouldn’t happen. But we need to work effectively together and remain focused on the aims we set out in the Strategic Plan that we created together back in 2015.”