Beaver

On Monday the 6th LSE Director Dame Minouche Shafik held the first student-only forum of the academic year. Held at The Venue, the event was marked by an overall relaxed atmosphere. Attendance was not large – around 80 undergrads and postgrads were scattered around the room – however students who did attend were eager to ask questions.

Dame Minouche started the event with a short presentation followed by a Q&A session. The Director seemed eager to underline that “enhancing student experience” was her first and foremost priority. When asked about other secondary concerns, she was adamant that she does not wish to be sidetracked but that increasing the impact of LSE Research and establishing a long-term strategy are two other objectives that she has in mind.

During her presentation, Dame Minouche said that she read “every feedback form” and pointed out that the four main concerns posed by students are: assessments and teacher feedback, community feeling, academic advisors and timetabling issues. With regards to the future, she established that there must be a review of the structure of the academic year, especially January exams which she promised to try to push back. Other plans include establishing in-year exam re-sits, diversifying assessments and increasing the frequency of meetings with academic advisors.

When asked about the annual fees increase for international students, the answer was focused on the financing needs of the university and not the challenges that fees increases generate. Likewise, concerns were raised by a few students that said that their educational experience had not been “transforming” and that (whilst lecturing was excellent) teaching was “inconsistent”. Widening participation was praised both by the Director and a few students that had actually been part of the programme themselves; a few remarks were made as to how to improve widening participation beyond the bursaries and into support such as improved contact with academic advisors.

Student satisfaction was referred to several times during the talk. The Director implied that many of the challenges regarding the low statistics could potentially be improved when the construction of the new buildings is done. Contrasting with that, a student pointed out that investing on current facilities – such as buying more microwaves to avoid long queues and improving study spaces – would improve the student experience immediately.

During the last half hour, the already low number of attendees started to disperse, leaving a smaller scattered group by the end of the forum. Regardless of the attendance numbers, the event was considered a success by many: there was a high rate of questions, students came prepared and were keen to give feedback to the Director about what they feel should be improved at LSE. Dame Minouche concluded the session by saying that she wanted to “make sure that everyone gets all of the benefits” of being at LSE.

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