Student Communications Internship – Remember to speak to your students!

So here I am, coming towards the end of my fourth week of my Student Communications Internship.  Last time I blogged I spoke about having a lot of questions to answer and, if anything, I now have even more!

Alongside the various meetings mentioned in my last blog, I have now had time to study other universities’ Student Communication Strategies and speak to Student Communication Officers from across the country. While I don’t think it is necessarily right to group all students in together, it is really interesting to hear what is (and isn’t) working for other universities.  I’ve even had a few people contact me who are working on similar projects themselves which suggests that the area of Student Communications is becoming more important for universities to think about.

Apart from speaking to members of staff, it has been really crucial for me to get the opinions of students. Working “behind the scenes” in this internship at university has allowed me to see that a lot of decisions are made for students without getting their opinion first. Obviously students can’t be consulted on every matter, and I don’t doubt that many members of staff have a lot of experience to back up their decisions, but in an environment that is usually full of students it has been surprising to see how many things are decided upon without their input. We are quite an easy lot to bribe and I’m sure it wouldn’t take much to get a few students in to voice their opinions or test out certain ideas before they are put into practice!

For me, getting the students’ opinions was another matter. With no students on campus I turned to the internet for help by posting my online survey on the official Facebook groups of each subject area I had met with. Yet this didn’t yield a particularly big response. There’s nothing cool, it seems, about filling in university related surveys from university related pages in the summer holidays!  By approaching students as a fellow student and posting the link on my personal Facebook and Twitter I had a much better success rate, with friends “sharing” and “retweeting” for others to see.

And so I am now at a stage where I am trying to pull together all of my research from the past month. It’s a daunting task but I’m really looking forward to joining up all of my findings, writing up my report and being able to make some recommendations for Student Communications at Reading.

If you have any ideas that you think can help me out or opinions on my project so far I would love to hear from you. I can be emailed at zf014520@reading.ac.uk

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