THE National Student Survey (NSS) 2021 is now live at the University of Chester. If you’re studying on a course leading to undergraduate credits and are in your final year, you may be eligible for the NSS. Keep an eye out for your invitation email being sent on January 14, or visit www.thestudentsurvey.com to find out more now.

What is the NSS?

The NSS is a nationally recognised annual survey of mainly final year undergraduates in the UK. The survey provides students with an opportunity to give their honest opinions on what they liked about their course at the University of Chester as well as things that they feel could be improved. The survey is administered by Ipsos MORI, an independent market research agency on behalf of the Office for Students (OfS), so responses remain completely anonymous at all times.

Who can complete the NSS?

Most students in their final year of study on courses leading to undergraduate credits or qualifications (such as Bachelor’s Degrees and Foundation Degrees) will be surveyed. Any undergraduate students who were eligible in the NSS 2020, or are not yet eligible for the NSS, will get their chance to complete the UK Engagement Survey (UKES) later this term. Postgraduate students also get the chance to use their voice later this term, with those studying a taught course able to complete the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) and research students offered the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES).

Why should you take part?

The NSS provides you with the opportunity to provide feedback on your student experience from across the whole of your time with us at the University of Chester. Your feedback will be used to identify areas of excellence and also improve the student experience by helping us enhance our teaching and resources for future students. For example, the NSS feedback from previous students has been used to enhance the PAT system, help shape a university-wide assessment review, and support the introduction of Student Race Advocates.

The survey only takes around 10 minutes to complete, and eligible students who complete the survey will have the opportunity to be entered into a prize draw with the chance to win a 13” MacBook Air, one of four iPad 10.2” or one of twenty £50 Amazon vouchers.

What happens with the results?

The NSS results are made publicly available on the Discover Uni website to help prospective students, their families and advisors make informed decisions of where and what to study. Providers and supporting Students’ Unions also use the data to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses to bring about change and enhancements to improve the learning experience for future generations of students.

Need more information?

If you need any further details, advice or support regarding NSS 2021 at the University of Chester then please visit the dedicated Portal page, or contact the Academic Experience Enhancement team, AQS (studentengagement@chester.ac.uk). 

Sophie Downes
Sophie Downes, University of Chester Interior Design student and winner of an Interior Educators Progressing Student Award

Final year undergraduate, Sophie Downes, has scooped a national award after the judges recognised the winning style in her fashion-forward interior design project.

Sophie’s eye-catching design for a temporary exhibition displaying bags by Japanese designer Issey Miyake, has been chosen as a winner of an Interior Educators Progressing Student Award.

Completed when she was in the second year of her Interior Design degree, Sophie’s project took the prize in the Best Material Innovation category of the 2020 Awards.

Sophie, from Chester, said: “The brief for the project was to design a temporary exhibition displaying items by Japanese designer Issey Miyake, located in Chester’s Grosvenor Shopping Centre.

“The exhibition features bags on display from Miyake’s 132 5. collection. These bags transform from flat shapes to three dimensional bags, which has inspired the construction of the structures in the exhibition design.

“Materiality was key to this project, so I was over the moon to win an award for Best Material Innovation.”

Lynne Bell, Programme Lead for the BA (Bachelor of Arts) Honours in Interior Design at the University of Chester said: “This was the first time any of our students have entered these strongly-contested Awards and we’re delighted for Sophie.

“It’s a well-deserved win for an innovative, striking and carefully-considered design.”

Interior Educators (IE) is a not-for-profit organisation established by academics representing well-established Interior Design and Interior Architecture programmes from across the UK. Founded by Graeme Brooker at Manchester School of Art in 2006, IE now represents more than 50 Higher Education Institutions, teaching almost 3,000 students.

For further information about the Awards and IE, please visit: https://interioreducators.co.uk/progressing-student-awards-2020.

Sophie’s winning design
Sophie’s winning design.

STUDENT News needs you!

We’re always keen to expand our team of contributors, writers, and photographers. If you fancy practising your writing skills and building up a portfolio of work, or simply sharing a passion, then get in touch.

Contact communications@chester.ac.uk to find out more about contributing to Student News.

Student volunteers with a passion for food and nutrition have adapted their project, which promotes healthy eating to disadvantaged adults in Chester, to enable it to continue during the pandemic.

Chester Healthy Eating Workshops (CHEW) is a University of Chester student-led volunteering project, supported by the University’s Volunteering team and working in collaboration with Chester Aid to the Homeless (CATH) and the Spider Project Number 71, Chester.

The project had provided interactive cooking workshops at the Harold Tomlins Day Centre in Chester to service users supported by CATH. CHEW has now also partnered with the Spider Project Number 71, Chester, which offers a calm, supportive and supportive social and creative space for people in crisis and emotional distress.

Student volunteer Jack Gwyther who films the videos.
Student volunteer Jack Gwyther who films the videos.

The Harold Tomlins Day Centre, run by CATH, aims to transform the life chances and opportunities of their homeless clients in the most effective way possible, through advice, guidance and other opportunities. According to CATH, when service-users are moved to supported or independent accommodation, they often have difficulty cooking for themselves in a healthy and budget-friendly way – which is where the idea for CHEW began.

As COVID-restrictions have prevented the sessions taking place physically, the CHEW team has developed a series of tutorial videos to make sure that its healthy eating messages are still promoted at a time when healthy living has never been more important. Each video demonstrates a nutritious two-course meal on a budget, with the videos and recipes shared with CATH for them to distribute to their service users and No. 71 with their members.

The Project Leaders, Kabale Oke, who is a second year BSc Human Nutrition student, and Alice Murrill, who is in her second year studying BSc Nutrition and Dietetics, select a recipe from a bank of meal ideas provided by student volunteers then demonstrate how to make it in a video filmed at the University’s food laboratory.

Alice Murrill and Kabale Oke
Alice Murrill and Kabale Oke

Kabale said: “I become involved with CHEW as I love all things Nutrition and helping in the community.

“What I enjoy most about doing it is the variety of tasks that are involved – from liaising with CATH and Spider Project Number 71, Chester and engaging with student volunteers and the Food Lab to completing a task.”

Alice said: “We pick the recipes from a bank that our volunteers have developed – we all play a part in contributing ideas of different foods that could work together and how to make it healthier, so it’s a very collaborative process.

“Being a massive “foodie”, I think the recipe development part is a lot of fun, but I also enjoy being able to encourage the volunteers as they’re all doing a great job. It is of course incredibly rewarding too to think we might be making a difference to people’s lives.”

Jo Morison, from the Volunteering and Mentoring team at the University, said: “The videos are a real team effort – the volunteers collaborate on the recipes, they are filmed in the food labs in the Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition on the Parkgate Road Campus by a volunteer who then edits the videos.

“I’m so proud of our students for adapting the project in this way to enable it to continue. I’d also like to thank Jan Kresnyak in the Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition for offering this space and supporting the filming taking place.”

Georgina Ludgate, Support Worker at CATH, said: “This is a great resource that we will be able to take around our houses in a COVID-secure manner and help our guys to get involved in learning new skills and gaining a further step to living independently.’’

Eleanor Hughes, Crisis Response Worker and Volunteer Coordinator at Spider Project Number 71, Chester, said: “We have been really pleased to work with the University’s CHEW project during the lockdown period. The CHEW online videos have proved to be an invaluable resource for people in our community, which due to the lockdown restrictions has been unable to access services like ours for face-to-face sessions. Many of our members experience social isolation and mental health difficulties and these cooking videos have offered an activity outlet, helping to provide structure to people’s day. The online resources are informative, professional and easy to follow, as well as promoting the message of healthy eating.

“The CHEW team is highly skilled, approachable and passionate about the importance of nutrition and the positive impact that this has on individual’s overall wellbeing.”

If you’d like more information email volunteering@chester.ac.uk

When student Anna Jackson arrived at a Chester basketball court for a BBC interview, little did she know that she would be going home with a very special award.

Anna Jackson
Anna Jackson

Anna, who has just started a Master’s of Arts in Clinical Counselling and is Head Coach of Cheshire Phoenix Wheelchair Basketball Club, was interviewed by BBC North West at Live! New Scene Youth Centre in Chester, about sport during the pandemic.

Unbeknown to Anna, Vice-Captain of the Club, Stephanie Taylor had nominated her for the BBC North West Tonight Christmas Star Award, in recognition of all her hard work and selflessness throughout the pandemic.

Anna has been working tirelessly to make sure the club meets every week via Zoom, helping club members by getting fitness equipment and making everyone’s mental health and wellbeing a priority.

The team at BBC North West thought that it was a wonderful story and chose Anna as one of just a few to win the award.

After arriving at Live!, the interviews and playing shots were taken, including a sneaky interview with Stephanie and Anna’s partner Karen about the award.  At the end of filming a few more shots were taken as a group, all socially distanced, which is when Stephanie spilled the special secret and Karen presented the award.  

Anna was in complete shock and said she could not believe what had happened.

“I am so honoured to win this award, my aim over lockdown was to keep our club together even though we could not be together,” she explained.

“Not being able to train has been tough for everyone but with a weekly Zoom catch-up and some extra fun sessions online I feel we all know each other so much better and it has been amazing to see everyone supporting each other.”

Anna Jackson
Anna Jackson receiving her award

The award was presented on November 17 and the filming was aired on BBC North West on December 14. To watch the interview and presentation, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFSavAJW76Q&feature=emb_logo.

Anna is a former wheelchair basketball international who represented Great Britain for 10 years and competed at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. As well as currently studying at the University of Chester, she is an alumna having previously gained a PE and Sports Science degree in 1996.

Stephanie, who nominated Anna, is a class of 2020 University of Chester graduate and was recognised by the University for her own volunteering efforts earlier this year.

The first ever virtual careers festival has been held at the University of Chester featuring a graduate and motivational speaker who has worked for some of the UK’s biggest banks and telecoms companies.

Gina Buckney

The Careers and Employability team at took its annual careers fair, Careers Fest, online, to enable all students and graduates to access expert advice on how to achieve their career goals.

The ‘Headline Act’ this year was Gina Buckney. Gina graduated from the University of Chester in 2002 with a BSc (Hons) in Business Information Systems and achieved a 2:1. Gina has since gone on to work for some of the biggest UK banks and telecoms companies, has managed budgets of over £500m as well as teams of more than 450 people across the globe.

COVID-19 restrictions meant that Careers Fest could not take place in its traditional home on the Parkgate Road Campus. Instead, Careers Fest took place using Microsoft Teams enabling students from all University of Chester sites and graduates from all over the country to access the event from their own homes.

Rather than speaking in person to employer exhibitors, students and graduates could visit employers in the ‘Employer Gallery’, where key information and resources from a number of organisations was presented, as well as a variety of North West based jobs which students and graduates could apply for.  Attendees could also interact with employers via the chat function during live, themed panel sessions by asking questions and posting comments. The event also included a number of fun activities including a treasure hunt, a celebrity jobs quiz and competitions giving participants the opportunity to win online shopping vouchers and other prizes.

Careers Fest has always been an exhibition of employment opportunities, an arena for networking and a celebration of skills development and progression, however this online event had a real festival feel with a fresh, new look, a ‘Headline Act’ and a range of themed zones. These included an Alumni Zone, a Digital Skills Zone, an Enterprise Zone, an Equality and Diversity Zone and a Sustainability Zone.

During Careers Fest alumnus Gina delivered a stimulating, live presentation entitled ‘Becoming the Champion in Your Life’, with the aim of motivating, inspiring and helping people to become the best possible version of themselves. 

Gina is incredibly passionate about helping others and enjoys sharing her knowledge with the next generation. As an entrepreneur she now works as an educational and motivational speaker, she is the author of three self-help journals and is an advocate of meditation and mindfulness. 

Gina also offered a competition to students and graduates that attended Careers Fest, where having attended her talk they were encouraged to connect with her through social media and via her website. Students and graduates were offered a prize of an hour’s one-to-one coaching session with Gina (worth £350), a copy of Gina’s Journal for Life (worth £15.50) and a copy of her Seven Days of Happiness Guide (worth £10).

The lucky winner, selected at random, was Ffion Simpson, who is currently a third-year Events Management student. Ffion said: “I am incredibly excited about winning Gina’s competition because so many things she spoke about at Careers Fest resonated with me. I’m looking forward to my session with Gina as she definitely gave me the boost of motivation that I needed right now!”

Gina said: “I was honored to be the keynote/headline guest speaker for the University of Chester at their Annual Careers and Employability event. The University is doing some incredible work for its students and it was a delight to be able to share my knowledge and experience with them.”

For a pair of English postgraduate students, the COVID-19 pandemic provided an exciting opportunity for them to fulfil their ambition to produce a literary magazine.

Georgia Wetherall and Meg Coates, the literary minds behind Burnt Breakfast magazine.

Georgia Wetherall and Meg Coates, who graduated from the University of Chester’s Creative Writing degree programme, have founded Burnt Breakfast, an online publication showcasing works of flash fiction and poetry, alongside photography and artwork.

The duo, who are now both working towards the Master’s in Creative Writing: Writing and Publishing Fiction with the University’s Department of English, curate four editions a year, one for each season, and each one so good it will make you burn your toast!

Georgia, 22, and originally from Sheffield, writes predominantly short and flash fiction, focusing on dark tales of death and revolution. As well as being featured in the University’s literary magazine Pandora’s Box, she has also been published in the Fortnightly Review.

Meg, 21, and originally from Scarborough, writes a mixture of both forms, but is best known for her poetry which explores themes of childhood, gender and sexuality and has also been published in Pandora’s Box, which is where the two friends came up with the idea for their passion project.

Georgia said: “We absolutely loved the experience of editing that magazine and we both felt it was something we would like to do ourselves. When the pandemic took hold, it gave us the opportunity to focus on creating Burnt Breakfast.”

Meg added: “Lockdown gave us that bit more time to concentrate on designing and building the website, curating submissions and then linking that in with social media to raise the profile.”

With two editions already published, which each attracted more than 100 submissions, the magazine has been received well, and the pair will shortly be looking for other submissions in the New Year.

Explaining how the submission process works, Georgia said: “Burnt Breakfast is free to submit to and consists of entirely unsolicited submissions, meaning anyone can submit, but you must be at least 16 for us to consider your work.

“​We’ve had some fantastic entries, spanning everything from flash fiction and poetry, to photography and artwork. There are no themes or limitations, so there is plenty of scope to be creative.”

Meg added: “Our aim is to ensure that literary magazines are available for all levels of study and provide an inclusive space for all ages and levels of practice.

“Because Burnt Breakfast works in tandem with social media we have decided to publish a single piece of work per upload day, but we invite entrants to submit up to three pieces of unpublished work with the knowledge that we may only choose one to publish.”

Visit Burnt Breakfast to find out how to make a submission, or follow the magazine’s social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

A Mental Health Nursing student is lacing up her walking shoes to raise money to help the homeless this winter.

Hayley Sheldon
Hayley Sheldon

Hayley Sheldon, is in her first year studying for a Bachelor of Nursing (BN) in Mental Health. She is fundraising for homeless charity Shelter’s The Big Walk, which takes place later this month.

Shelter has invited people across the country to walk 3km, 5km or 10km, either alone or in a team, with all the money raised going towards helping the charity campaign against rough sleeping, build more social homes and protect renters who face discrimination and eviction.

Hayley said: “I returned to the UK from living abroad last year and was struck by how many homeless people are on the streets and how many people walk past them. We are often scared to help because we don’t know what to say and we don’t know how they will spend any cash we give to them. 

“I saw an advert on social media for the walk and thought why not sign up? A friend of mine in Birmingham worked for Shelter, and I used to volunteer at FoodCycle in the Midlands, where we would use leftover supermarket food to create meals for the homeless and sit to eat together. I loved doing that last year and prior to lockdown, I was also volunteering at the Cancer Research shop in Chester.” 

Hayley, who studies at the Riverside Campus, plans to raise money by walking 10km around Chester later this month – come rain or shine. She said: “It never gets boring walking down to the Campus and taking a breather from online learning or face-to-face (with social distancing) lectures by the water.

“Chester looks great with the Christmas lights too at the moment; 10km will take a couple of hours and I may still be walking at dusk! I will be walking with my fellow student Molly, and we’ll be cheering each other on all the way.”

To make a donation to Hayley’s appeal visit here

A group of kind-hearted students, known as The Education Elves, has launched a new scheme to spread some festive magic to families in need.

Megan Potter
Megan Potter

Education Elves has been set up by PGCE Primary student Megan Potter, who was inspired to help families struggling this Christmas after hearing a talk on the effects of poverty as part of her studies. She is being supported by other student volunteers in various elements of the project.

The 21-year-old has set up a Facebook page and an Amazon wish-list (as a COVID-safe approach) for people to make donations. There are also Education Elves pin badges for sale, with the money raised going towards supermarket vouchers for disadvantaged households.

She said: “I’m very conscious of how difficult this year has been for everyone, with more people being needing help with less in a position to give. Education Elves cannot solve an issue such as poverty, nor provide support to everyone who needs it, but it can bring some Christmas cheer to families who need it the most!

“I think the challenges of 2020 have been a real motivation for me to make the project become a reality. I myself has really struggled this year because of the restrictions, missing out on moments such as graduation, losing a job, really missing friends and I know everyone is struggling in their individual ways. If Education Elves can bring some Christmas joy to even one family then I’ll be happy!”

Education Elves pin badges
Education Elves pin badges

Megan and her fellow students have selected the gifts on the wish-list which they hope will engage children and encourage them to learn too.

She added: “The items on the list were picked for a few reasons. We wanted some of the gifts to be educational, but also things for children to do, as with all the lockdown restrictions they are spending more time at home than ever before, so we thought crafts, games etc would be great! And other things are popular bits in supermarkets that children may typically wish for, or see their peers have.”

They have already received some amazing donations from companies. Megan said: “I’ve loved seeing the support we have been able to generate for the project. From big brands like Dr Pawpaw and Top Trumps to small businesses on Etsy and from complete strangers through the Amazon Wishlist, despite the struggles of 2020 so many people are helping us make Christmas that extra bit special this year!”

Megan previously graduated from the University with a degree in Events Management, through which she was involved with numerous fundraising and volunteering opportunities and was the winner of the University Volunteering Charity Choice Award.

Jo Morison, Mentoring Project Officer, in the University’s Student Futures Department, said: “Megan was a dedicated volunteer during her undergraduate studies, demonstrated by her winning the Charities Choice Award at our Volunteer Celebration Event this year. I am thrilled to see that Megan continues her charitable initiatives in her further studies, demonstrating the real positive impact our citizen students can have on the local community.” To make a donation visit https://www.facebook.com/educationelves/

A Nursing student at the University has won a prestigious national award recognising her work in empowering the student voice.

Rose with her award
Rose with her award

Rose James won the category of Outstanding Contribution to Student Affairs in this year’s Student Nursing Times Awards.

The Awards bring together the nursing community to shine a light on the brightest talent making their way into the profession.

Rose, who is studying for a degree in Adult Nursing, received the Award for her role as Co-Chair of the Faculty’s Student Empowerment Group (SEG), which was set up to give students a platform to be heard and an even better experience during their studies. Rose played an active role in working in partnership with the University to help co-write a new curriculum.

Along with fellow student Daniel Branch and Peg Murphy, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Health and Social Care, the group has championed the student experience through different activities and events.

During her first year of study, Rose was invited to become the Student Representative for the Programme Planning Team (PPT). The team was set up by the University’s Director of Nursing, Julie Dulson, to write the new curriculum under the new Nursing and Midwifery Council Guidelines for pre-registration nurses, which required the inclusion of the student voice in order for it to become validated.

In this role, Rose attended meetings to provide feedback and assist in co-writing the new curriculum. She took the points back to the SEG and the team contacted students from across all sites, years and programmes for their feedback on modules and decisions on the new curriculum. Rose then collated this information for the PPT. All decisions relating to a module or the curriculum were made with Rose’s involvement to liaise with fellow students to gain their insight and feedback.

The Co-Chair role also gave Rose the opportunity to learn much more about student empowerment in Health and Social Care more widely. She has presented at numerous RAISE (Researching, Advancing and Inspiring Student Engagement) Conferences, including one hosted by the University of Chester, discussing how student empowerment has been increased through the work of the SEG. Rose also attended the Chief Nurse Summit in March to connect with other nurses across the UK and was part of a group of students from the University who met with Chief Nurse Ruth May and her team in 2019 in London.

Rose has also devised a new project currently being developed by the SEG called Your First of Everything, an interactive tool for students and staff to share reflections and experiences.

She said: “I feel that this new project highlights the importance of mental health and well-being for students and gives support. It will share the first experiences of different scenarios in practice and theory and how others dealt with it with the aim that others can relate to this and learn from it.

“Since being a part of the SEG, I have learnt that having a platform where you can voice your opinions and implement change, is very empowering. I have been able to achieve things I couldn’t have without this group. I have connected with students, staff and other people I never thought I could by being a part of this group. The opportunities I have had and how I have grown as an individual has shaped who I am now and the nurse I will be.

“Hearing that I had won felt amazing! I felt that all my hard work paid off but also that our collaboration as a SEG was recognised. I personally have worked very hard to get to the point of where I am now, and I know the SEG has as well. They have supported me 100% of the way and I couldn’t have won the award without them. I am humbled, grateful, and very, very proud.”

Professor Angela Simpson, Executive Dean of the University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care, said: “We’re so proud of Rose and everyone, both students and staff, who have been involved in the Student Empowerment Group. It is really exciting to see our students feeding directly into the curriculum and being inspired to give feedback.

“Rose has worked so hard and it is a pleasure to see her dedication rewarded in such a way.”