Students give feedback to the University in multiple ways – informally; through course reps and RUSU; through the National Student Survey; and through smaller surveys and questionnaires.
We’ve listened. Below are some examples of how we have acted or are acting on feedback from you to improve the student experience.
24/7 Library opening
You told us you wanted to be able to use the Library, whatever the time. From April 2014 – or sooner if possible – the Library will be open 24/7 in term time.
24/7 study space
As a further response to your need for study space at any hour, we created The Study in RUSU, open 24 hours most days – a facility with study space, wifi, outdoor seating and a kitchen for those all-important cups of tea. It was created thanks to a £240,000 investment from the University.
Spectacular Library makeover
A £2m+ ‘Grand Design’ project in the Library now provides stunning space for quiet and collaborative work, with striking furniture, modern interior design, and – because you asked for them – lots and lots of plug sockets.
You told us you needed space for collaborative work, not just quiet study. So the second floor is now a mixture of quiet study areas and collaborative space. The area is filled with a variety of modern furniture especially designed to minimise sound. Collaborative space includes glass group study pods, diner-style group seating, one-to-one tables, and alcove padded seating for small groups. Quiet study space includes long tables, individual swivel armchairs, and bright white tables with innovative chair designs.
The fifth floor has been refurbished for silent study. It has an open, soft-seating area for reading; two long, silent study rooms, bounded by glass walls (one a traditional-style room, with some of the chairs and study tables original to the 1960s building; the other with contemporary furniture); and a second relaxed study area, furnished with self-contained, felt armchairs, overlooking the 4th floor through a new glass screen.
Throughout both floors, there is striking interior decoration, eco-friendly lighting, and many more plug sockets for laptop use.
Meanwhile, the third and fourth floors have benefitted from the installation of glass walls, letting in more light and views, and newer study furniture (long desks, study carrels, chairs) brought in from the refurbished floors.
The refurbishment project is ongoing, giving you more and more truly inspiring places to work.
More course materials
You told us you wanted more study resources. We’re spending £700,000 extra this year on new materials, from books to databases, in print and online. They will add to the Library’s already large collection, with over 1m printed items and access to over 24,000 e-journals.
Reduced postgraduate fees and £10k+scholarships
Many of you told us you would like to carry on and do postgraduate study, but were concerned about the costs. We’ve made it more affordable for you to stay on at Reading for your studies. If you have already studied at the University of Reading you will get 10% off the fees of a master’s course or the first year of another postgraduate degree (up to a maximum of £1,000).
For most master’s courses this will mean 10% off the standard £5,500 UK/EU fee, making the fee £4,950 for UK/EU students (and £12,750-£15,500, rather than £13,750-£16,500, for international students).
On top of this discount, we’ve created scholarships to support you. If you are a UK or EU University of Reading final year undergraduate planning to move on to a Master’s programme at Reading in 2014, you are eligible for a Reading Alumni Scholarship worth £10,500. This covers £5,500 in fees (the standard Master’s fee) and £5,000 towards living costs. Five scholarships per year are available and these can be applied for as part of the normal online application for a place.
More sports facilities
A superb new football facility is being created at Bulmershe, with five pitches and changing rooms that meets the FA specification for lower-league games. The facilities will be used by University football teams on Wednesday afternoons; for inter-university matches; and by the local community at weekends. The new pavilion will also have a meeting room and kitchenette.
Another sports pavilion is going up right on Whiteknights campus, subject to planning permission. The pavilion will include a multi-sport changing facility and club room to be used by everyone booking outdoor pitches: rugby, football, cricket, hockey, lacrosse, American football etc. The club room can be used for team meetings and coaching talks or to provide refreshments.
Extra staff supporting your wellbeing
You’ve told us that support through your time at university really matters. Four additional staff in the Student Wellbeing Service have been added within the last year (2013/14) as part of extra University investment in on-course support, including a Disability Officer, a Counsellor, and an Educational Psychologist.
This adds to a wide range of support services there for you when you need them.
Better wifi access across campus
You’ve made it clear that comprehensive wifi access really matters. The University is undertaking a c.£1m project to extend wifi coverage to all buildings on the Whiteknights campus and to extend coverage at London Road. Wifi is already available in the Library, Palmer, Carrington, HumSS, Park House Lodge, Maths, and Meteorology. By July all buildings on Whiteknights campus will be covered. You can track progress at http://wifi.reading.ac.uk/zones/extension.html
New sports pavilion
A new sports pavilion on the Whiteknights campus will be constructed, subject to planning permission. The pavilion will include a multi-sport changing facility and club room to be used by everyone booking outdoor pitches, including the rugby, football, cricket, hockey, lacrosse and American football teams. The club room can be used for team meetings and coaching talks or to provide refreshments. For more information about the plans, see http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/student-services-news/2014/01/07/sportspark-pavilion-have-your-say/
Changed term dates
Many of you told us that finishing the academic year later than peers at other universities was potentially a disadvantage in the graduate job market. So for the 2014/15 academic year we’re changing things. The year will finish sooner, on 12 June 2015. But you won’t lose any teaching time as the autumn and spring terms will be longer.
Street food van
Sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference – like tasty food right on the doorstep. Belle the street food van first hit the campus streets on 5 November 2013, and serves up a variety of street food on the Whiteknights and London Road campuses between 11:00 and 14.30 every weekday. Belle is an authentic French Citroen Hy van built approximately 40 years ago. This style of van hasn’t been produced for about 30 years and it was especially sourced and reconditioned for the University. All food served from Belle will, in true street food style, be simple, tasty and high quality. Where possible, ingredients are locally sourced, including burgers from a butcher in Caversham and fresh brioche buns from artisan bakery Jungs in Beaconsfield. So far menu plans include American style mac ‘n’ cheese, burritos, pulled pork, hot dogs and pie and mash – with up to four different choices in any given day.