Enhancing student skills

The Education Enhancement Fund (EEF) has provided staff with opportunities to develop essential skills support to students across campus.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS)

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) was developed using EEF funding and, in its first year, had 250 undergraduate students from the College of Arts and Law using the services provided by a qualified and experienced academic writing professional.  AWAS helps students develop as proficient academic writers, focusing on areas such as fluency in writing style and use of correct punctuation. Students using the service rate their experience highly, with 100% saying that they would use the service again and recommend it to their peers.  After initial EEF funding the College has continued to invest in this support and the service has grown, with a total of 4,000 students using it during 2018-19. 

The Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS scheme)

PASS in action - photo showing student groups in study sessions

The Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS scheme) also began as an EEF funded project. PASS involves higher-year students leading informal study sessions for lower-year students.  EEF funding supported the set-up of this scheme,  which is now core-funded and embedded across all five colleges, and has run for 10 years, helping over 6000 students to understand their subject better and improve their approaches to learning.  Research findings on the benefits of this peer support across the University have demonstrated the impact of this discipline-owned, student-led scheme on the first year experience.  Student PASS leaders from 2014/15 for example, achieved 91.6% graduate employability in the DLHE stats, compared to the University average of 85.3% (UoB TEF 2017. Section 3.14).

EEF funds have provided proof-of-concept for particular approaches that have then been developed and rolled out across the institution. One example of this has been a pilot to train DR students to deliver study support sessions to undergraduates in the College of Arts and Law (2010). In recognition of the value of this initiative, this approach has since been adopted by the Academic Skills Centre.  Within Library Services, our funds have also enabled existing online skills resources to be brought together and presented in an easy-to-use format through the Academic Skills Gateway. The Gateway currently hosts resources covering 28 different skills areas within the broader topics of Research Skills, Digital Skills and Writing Skills. Over a four year period the Gateway home page has received 87168 views.  Several online skills courses hosted by the Gateway have been adapted for particular degree programmes and have been embedded within the curriculum - for example, Lab Report Writing for students in Biosciences.  

The Birmingham ProjectBirmingham Project logo

The Birmingham Project received EEF funds six years ago to enable around 300 students each year to develop entrepreneurial, innovative, employability and research skills. The Birmingham Project has offered first year undergraduates the opportunity to work with employers on collaborative group projects addressing real-world problems, with the primary aim to make students’ post-exam time a more purposeful part of their first year experience.  With the opportunity to work on projects with external partners such as KPMG, TfWM, and IBM, some students have successfully secured summer internships or placements with these companies. 

Contact us for more information: hefi.projects@contacts.bham.ac.uk.