Joint Honours Student Experience: Student Insight Report

VP Education Alissa Chohan introduces the findings and recommendations from our research into the experience of Joint Honours students, as we seek to improve their academic experience at Royal Holloway.

Throughout this academic year, I have been working closely with students, academics, members of professional services of the College and colleagues at the SU to produce a Joint Honours Student Insight Report.

The purpose of this report was to gain a greater understanding of the needs and struggles faced by Joint Honours students and what can be done to improve their academic experience at Royal Holloway.

Read the report

Why has this report been created?

This report was inspired by my personal experience as a Joint Honours student in my first year at Royal Holloway. Due to some challenges that came along with being a Joint Honours student, I switched to a Single Honours programme for the remainder of my degree. In my discussions with others students across different Joint Honours courses, they expressed having experienced similar issues, and some key themes for exploration started to emerge. Better representation for Joint Honours students subsequently became one of my key manifesto points when I campaigned to become VP Education. Once elected, it became my priority to launch a project that would produce a greater understanding of the key issues that Joint Honours students face, as well as what they really value about taking a Joint Honours course, in order to improve their overall experience at Royal Holloway.

Key recommendations

A set of 22 recommendations have been collated from the research and findings, all of which can be found in the report. Below is an outline of some of the key recommendations that will prove to be essential in improving the Joint Honours experience:

  • The University should create a Joint Honours handbook and upload this document to the University website and Royal Holloway app.
  • The University should implement a Joint Honours Lead in every department.
  • The University should provide Joint Honours students with Personal Tutors in all the departments they are studying in.
  • The University should create an individual data marker which identifies Joint Honours students clearly for academic and professional University staff.
  • The University should investigate whether the current timetabling software is fit for purpose and assess whether a better alternative may be available to use.
  • Departments should ensure that Joint Honours students are included in all relevant module selection processes across their degree programme.
  • Departments with Joint Honours students should communicate more regularly in regard to teaching, coursework deadlines and examination dates to avoid deadline stacking and timetable clashes from occurring.
  • The Students’ Union should work with departments to create a new role within their Academic Representation system for a Joint Honours Course Representative for departments which have Joint Honours students.

What’s next?

On Wednesday 2 June, I presented these headline findings and recommendations to the College’s Academic Board committee where it was well-received by all members. Now that the full report is complete, it will be taken to further committees, namely Flexible Education and Joint Executive Committee, where members of senior management and key academics and Directors of Undergraduate Education are present, all of whom will be key in implementing the recommendations outlined in the report. In these committees, I will be requesting a formal set of responses to all of the relevant recommendations from the College which will be shared with students when it is available.

As my time in office as VP Education comes to a close, I shall be passing over the responsibility for the implementation of these recommendations to the permanent staff members of the Student Voice team here at the SU, and your incoming VP Education Maia Jarvis who I have full confidence will continue this great work to increase the representation and experience of Joint Honours students.

I am extremely proud of this piece of work and would like to extend my thanks and gratitude to all of the students who offered such insightful feedback, the numerous academics, Directors of Student Experience, Directors of Undergraduate Education and members of professional services who contributed to this report and, finally, the hard work from members of the Students’ Union in producing the report. I look forward to discussing these recommendations with key University stakeholders and working with them to implement their responses. I believe these recommendations will positively impact the overall Joint Honours experience for students, and that Joint Honours students will regularly be considered in key academic decisions affecting students in the future.

If you have any further questions or comments about this report, please feel free to contact me via email at VPEducation@su.rhul.ac.uk.