I have been working on changes to the student handbook now for several months. During this time I have researched into what students are currently given on arrival to the University, how that compares with other Universities and how we can make things better at Birmingham City University.
From staff and student focus groups, it was reported that the current Student Handbook was bulky, inaccessible and unappealing. To combat this, some faculties and schools had created a bridged versions of the handbook called ‘Survival Guides’ but these were not formally approved and would have to complement the handbook with a risk or reiteration.
Therefore it was decided that there should be two levels to the information that students receive. This would be University level, the generic information that all students need to know and then the Course level information which would also include Faculty or School level information. It was agreed that it would be appropriate to house the University level information on the University website and students would be issued with a ‘Course Guide’ during induction which would have all the information that students need to know about their course, with links to where more information could be found.
The Course Guide was created and has been piloted on 6 courses across 2 faculties. Feedback so far has been positive from staff and students, although staff were keen that the guide must remain concise and student focused, it was felt that it should not be made verbose and cumbersome by items needed for approval which students could be directed to elsewhere. Students have described the guide as being much more visually appealing and easy to use.
The Course Guide will go to Senate on 11th May 2011 with a view to it being approved to be rolled out University wide for the 2011/2012 intake.