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Since early in the year Student Services has been working day in and day out to help students with their queries, concerns and questions regarding the pandemic, and everything else. It's been a hectic time balancing student's understandable need for clear information, against a continually changing landscape. Here Deputy Head of Student Services, Jim Valentine describes the trials and tribulations of moving the essential service almost entirely online, and taking up the temporary role of food package delivery man.
Over the summer we worked hard to ensure students had access to equipment and resources and tried to enable learning to continue as best as possible. This included supplying new equipment for students who could no longer access the Kit Store for emergency laptop loans during the first lockdown.
The return to teaching in September created more challenges, as we balanced the need to deliver online support to many students, whilst looking at what services could be offered safely within the building.
As the number of isolating students continued to grow, I found myself speaking to many students who were facing a few weeks of isolation. Whilst many students stayed motivated and weren't affected by Covid, there were also many calls with students who have been terribly unwell and have faced tragic family circumstances.
For these students we've continued to offer ongoing support to help them cope with changes that they could have never expected, all the while trying to stay connected to their academic work. We've looked at how to deliver free school meals entitlements as direct payments, change travel bursaries to directly support online learning and assess students for additional help in unique circumstances.
Many of our international student's first experience of study in the UK has been living for two weeks in isolation, unable to attend their lessons. We've helped them settle in by providing basic supplies on arrival and where needed taxi travel from the airport to where they will be isolating. We've then helped, where needed, to get them used to Ravensbourne and their online studying.
And it's not just been international students we've been getting basic supplies out to. As students were asked to isolate, we've had many suddenly left without food and unable to immediately access deliveries. So I'm now pretty familiar with how to shop for four households at a time and ignore criticism from supermarket staff that I'm hoarding Baked Beans!
Essential food drop for isolating students.
We've now got a more considered approach in the event of upcoming lockdowns to offer limited supplies ahead of time, but it was nice to hear how appreciated these supermarket runs were in the first few months of term. The suspension on my car is a little less thankful - six hours of speed bumps to make round trips across London have convinced me that taxi driving isn't my fall back career!
But overall I think that these exceptional times, despite the difficulties we've seen for many students and their families, have taught us a great deal about how we can work better and reach more students for support than we ever thought possible. More than anything, we're grateful the team has been able to help lift some of the burden students have found themselves with.
And as always, if any students reading this do continue to need help or support then please drop us an email on [email protected]
Ravensbourne University London
6 Penrose Way
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