Supporting our staff and students in Trinity term

Dr Saira Shaikh

Ahead of students arriving for the final term of the academic year, I have been reflecting on how much work has taken place across the collegiate University to support students this year, and the difference this is making to the student experience at Oxford. 

Improving students’ digital experience

One of the key differences that students will see this term is in their digital experience. We have invested in a range of new systems and platforms in recent years, and Oxford’s Digital Transformation programme is furthering our work in this area. 

Thanks to Digital Transformation investment, we will see the first in-person typed exams at the Exam Schools in Trinity term as well as a range of further enhancements to the Canvas virtual learning environment. This is just the start of our transformation, and I have high hopes for further improvements as the programme develops.

Inclusive education

Another area where we have made great strides is making our education more inclusive, and I am pleased that a suite of new resources is now available on the IncludED pages of the Centre for Teaching and Learning – helping staff maximise all students’ academic potential through inclusive practices in teaching, supervision and assessment.

Streamlined degree ceremony planning

Once students get to the end of term, they will no doubt look forward to their long-awaited degree ceremonies at the Sheldonian.

Over the past year, the Student Registry, together with many colleagues across central services and the colleges, has been working with Focus using continuous improvement approaches to review the current year-long planning process that lies behind each degree ceremony at Oxford. This mapping exercise has identified opportunities to streamline operational activities and thereby deliver ceremonies in a simplified way.  All teams involved in degree ceremonies remain committed to delivering what is an important celebratory moment for our students, whilst achieving a more efficient preparation approach for everyone involved. 

Supporting our academic administrators

While it is our world-class academics who are key to delivering the excellent Oxford educational experience, they are supported day in day out by our talented team of academic administrators, who I know also work tirelessly to support our students. The range of academic administrative teams nominated for and named as winners in the recent Vice-Chancellors' Professional Services Awards pay testament to the huge contribution they make and value they add. 

I am proud, therefore, to have taken up the role of sponsor for a new Community of Practice for academic administrators. This new community is being rolled out this term, helping academic administrators to share knowledge and work together to address common challenges. I am confident it will help support our professional and career development, and, in turn, further enhance the student experience. 

Professional support for our academics

Many of the activities outlined above adopt the tools and approaches of Professional Services Together, focusing on our people, quality and collaboration, and demonstrating how much progress is being made by our talented professional services community in support of our educational mission.

In close, I would like to express my appreciation for the work undertaken by so many of you in key student-supporting roles, which you continue to committedly deliver – and to wish all colleagues well for the term ahead.