Did you know that as part of their business planning – and with the endorsement of a Senior Management team member – colleagues have the opportunity to gather student input for projects by proposing a discussion topic for the Royal Holloway 100 panel (RH100)?
The RH100 panel is a large focus group made up of 100 student panellists from across Royal Holloway. The panel help to ensure that a range of views are considered in relation to developments at the College and on campus. RH100 is operationally delivered by the Student Engagement & Sport Department within the Academic Services Directorate, who work closely with the five elected Sabbatical Officers from the Students’ Union.
Campus Engagement Manager, Sandro Gunther, outlines the background to the panel, and explains how colleagues can submit topics for discussion by the RH100 to gather student input for their projects.
1. Why was the project initiated?
The ‘Student First’ project launched in 2016 with the aim to work in partnership with our students and make them co-creators of their own education and university experience. Following this, a student voice work stream was formed to investigate possible mechanisms that would help achieve those goals.
Focus groups are frequently used for student feedback and input, but these are often small and tend to attractstudents who are already engaged in university life. The Royal Holloway 100 panel was conceived as a large focus group reflective of our diverse student body. The panel is distinct from the work of the Students’ Union; it does not represent the students but seeks to gather multiple different voices that reflect the university’s diverse student body.
2. Why would your project benefit from student input?
Student voice is an aspect of higher education that is of increasing importance with the recent establishment of the Office for Students and the emphasis on third-level institutions to demonstrate value for money. With NSS results being a crucial indicator of student experience at an institution as a whole and a key factor for recruitment, gathering student voice both in terms of feedback and input at all levels and for all services provided is critical.
At Royal Holloway, gaining student feedback and input is important to ensure the continuous development and improvement of services, resources and initiatives. Feedback can be used to improve all services, both academic and professional, to ensure the highest standard, holistic experience for all students no matter their background.
Gaining student input via the RH100 panel for your project can:
- foster a sense of belonging and engagement within the department, service and institution
- ensure any changes made to projects/initiatives reflect the needs of the current student body – we should not assume that we know the needs/requirements of students
- enable staff to educate students on restrictions and reasons why issues may not be able to be resolved, or put forward alternatives to the issue. For example, through the RH100 panel discussion topic ‘Spaces on campus’ facilitators were able to educate students on alternative spaces to study on campus when the Davison Building was at capacity.
3. At what stage should I look for student input in my project?
Ideally, student input would be gathered for your project once a project plan and direction is put in place. Student voice/input should be gathered sooner rather than later however there should always be a purpose to the input and a clear direction as to where the project is headed. The RH100 panel asks for topics that require student input rather than feedback so students can make an actual change to the project itself or the direction it’s headed and can shape College life to benefit the student body.
4. What is the structure of the RH100 panel?
For each discussion topic, RH100 panel input is gathered in three ways:
- Pre-work: Topic leads are asked to give the panellists reading and tasks prior to the panel itself. This enables the panellists to familiarise themselves with the subject beforehand and allows them to put thought into their opinions and do research where required. This enables topic leads to have 100 separate opinions on their subject as each pre-work (or agenda) is collected at end of the panel
- Group discussions: At the panels, panellists are separated into smaller groups to discuss a task related to their pre-work. The input given by the smaller groups is collected at the end of the panel and collated by the RH100 team
- Presentations and open discussions: Each group is asked to present back their key points in a clear and succinct manner. If there is capacity following the presentations, panellists are encouraged to discuss the topic openly and raise any points that may not have been shared. This contribution is video/audio recorded for the topic lead.
5. What is the most enjoyable aspect of the RH100?
It’s rewarding to provide another platform for students to voice their opinions on topics that impact the student experience at Royal Holloway now and in the future. Seeing skills such as critical thinking, presentation and influencing develop in the panellists over such a short space of time is an additional benefit of being on the panel. Additionally receiving comments such as ‘I love the RH100 and feel proud to be part of it…’ and ‘For the first time I have felt as though I am making a difference at the university thanks to the RH100’ makes running the project so worthwhile!
6. How do I propose a topic?
If you’re interesting in gathering input from the RH100 for your project, please review our FAQs on the RH100 staff web pages and complete this topic proposal form. We do ask that you consider the strategic direction of your project and how the panellists can provide actual input and make change. Topic discussions also require a Senior Management team member sponsor. If you have any questions about the RH100 panel process or whether your project would benefit from student input, please contact the RH100 team.