Students Staff

28 November 2013

Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding Support for Students

Student Frontrunners

Frontrunners have made a real impact at Essex

The University of Essex has won the Outstanding Support for Students Award at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2013.

The award is in recognition of the way Essex integrates innovative schemes such as the unique work placement scheme Frontrunners into effective support services for students.

The glittering award ceremony at Grosvenor House Hotel in London was attended by representatives from Student Support and the Employability and Careers Centre alongside student Frontrunners and Essex graduates who benefited from the support provided at Essex. 

Judge Toni Pearce, President of the National Union of Students, said: “This is an outstanding initiative, not only one that provides students with paid work during study that gains them relevant experience to seeking employment, but actually enables students to shape the services and the experience for the student body at Essex.”

Director of Employability at Essex David Stanbury said: “This is absolutely fantastic news and a real endorsement of the first class support we provide to our students including access to a range of high-quality work experience, which is particularly valued by those students who might not normally have access to those kinds of opportunities." 

Award presented to Essex

Representatives from the Employability and Careers Centre and Student Support receive the award from Sandi Toksvig

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor Jane Wright said: "This award reflects our on-going commitment to doing all we can to give our students the best possible educational experience, while developing their confidence and giving them the creative and critical skills to really make a difference when they graduate."

Frontrunners is the first scheme of its kind in the UK and is transforming the opportunities and support available to students, while also having a positive impact on the culture of the whole University. No other university in the UK has embraced so comprehensively a strategy of this kind.

In 2011-12 Frontrunners became part of the newly established Employability and Careers Centre and received a budget increase of 33 per cent to £600,000 plus a dedicated project officer.

Frontrunners embodies the University's founding ethos of ‘living and learning’ and strengthens the support we offer. It helps students get the most from university by developing their confidence and employability skills.

The University benefits from integrating the ‘student voice’ into its work – including their enthusiasm and insights, while students benefit from challenging paid placements where they receive extensive support and feedback to help their personal development plus training before, during and after placements.

Frontrunners includes some peer support roles and the scheme has helped Student Support focus even more effectively on the needs of students.

Placements have covered everything from feedback and marketing of Student Support services to supporting the Residents’ Support Network. In 2011-12, the period covered by the award, seven Senior Advice Centre Advisers were also appointed through frontrunners.

Frontrunners is just one of the extensive range of services offered to students at Essex which also include the Residents Support Network, Students’ Union Advice Centre, University Skills Centre and Employability and Careers Centre.

Now in their ninth year, the Times Higher Education Awards celebrate the excellence and amazing achievements of UK higher education institutions.

Employability: Jennifer Perry on what she is doing next from University of Essex on Vimeo.

What the Times Higher Education Awards thought of Frontrunners

"The University of Essex’s Frontrunners initiative is a bold, innovative approach to improving campus life that has empowered students to tackle problems themselves.

"Once staff had identified specific projects, students were invited to apply for part-time paid work placements to lead them. More than 200 students were involved in 176 projects across almost every academic and professional department in 2011-12. They addressed particular problems faced by their peers, providing their own insights into campus issues while developing problem-solving and project management skills required by future employers.

"One impressive project involved students undertaking a five-month investigation of why Chinese undergraduates and postgraduates did not access support services. Their work helped to inform a more targeted approach.
Several student Frontrunners praised the scheme for helping to build their CVs and providing work experience that enabled them to secure jobs upon graduation.

"The scheme is well resourced. Essex’s Employability and Careers Centre received a 33 per cent budget increase in 2011-12, and it took on a dedicated officer to run the project."

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