The Student Panel: Improving student experiences now and in the future

Photo Credit: Hudson Hintze, Unsplash CC0

In this post, Sarah-Jane Brown, the Student Surveys Operations Lead working in Analytics, Insights and Modelling within Student Systems and Administration, explains the essential work of The University of Edinburgh’s Student Panel in influencing how the University can improve student experience…

The University of Edinburgh Student Panel was created to give students the opportunity to influence decision making and drive change at The University of Edinburgh. This group of engaged students aims to help improve the experiences of both current and future students. It’s an alternative to surveying the whole student population and so minimising the number of large surveys each student receives during their time here.

As a student it’s a great way to really get involved in University wide decision making. Each Student Panel task is completely voluntary, and so being a member of the Student Panel allows you to undertake as many or as few tasks as you choose making it easy to fit it into your University (and social) life. Tasks include looking at existing working practices within the University but also at future plans. The Panel can really help to shape the future here at the University.

It’s also a great way to meet other students and members of staff – academic and professional – that you may not otherwise cross paths with. For taking part, there are some great incentives on offer including Blackwell’s vouchers, Amazon vouchers, lunches, coffee and cake. It’s also a great addition to your CV – that you were part of a team that provided input and influenced decisions at the University. You actually contributed to real change!

So far this academic year, our Panel members have been involved in and fed back on a range of matters. They have tested a new app aimed at helping students access assessment support, reviewed how the University supports the learner journey, and discussed and advised on our proposed new emergency contact procedure. Tasks include workshops, focus groups, completing short questionnaires and reviewing online content.

The Student Panel is not just for campus learners and has many online learners already. We would love to have more online learners to add a different perspective to those experiencing University life on campus. The tasks that take the form of a short questionnaire or reviewing content / materials means our online learners can complete them and be an integral part of the Panel even if they are not able to attend focus groups of workshops.

If you want to make a difference, leave a legacy ,and earn some great incentives you can sign up here: Student Panel 2019/20

For staff the Student Panel allows you to work in partnership with students and provides a broadly representative sample of students who are ready to provide immediate and honest feedback on a wide range of topics. By talking directly with students who are experiencing university life here and now, you can really explore their ideas and thoughts. Focus groups and workshops allow for fresh viewpoints and two way conversations and short questionnaires are a great, simple and quick way to test concepts.

Rebecca Shade, Policy & Projects Officer (Student Experience) recently used the Student Panel and commented:

I used the Student Panel for a focus group on emergency contacts. We had representatives from every College and type of student in the room (apart from online!). The group were engaged, respectful of each other’s opinions, and came up with some great ideas. I’m looking forward to the next focus group! (February 2020)

If you are a member of University of Edinburgh staff and want to hear more about the Student Panel or discuss a possible task please email

Sarah-Jane Brown
Sarah-Jane Brown is the Student Surveys Operations Lead working in Analytics, Insights and Modelling within Student Systems and Administration.

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