How we have provided Value for Money to Students
The national lockdown arising from Covid-19 meant that teaching and assessment had to shift to online delivery towards the end of 2019/20. However, from the start of 2020/21, we prioritised practical skills teaching for face-to-face learning, having introduced a range of measures to make the on-campus experience as Covid-secure as possible. This included teaching in small groups, providing PPE and social distancing requirements. In December 2020, when it became apparent that the majority of students at UK higher education institutions would not be permitted to return to campus, we successfully lobbied for our chiropractic courses to be added to the list of healthcare courses that were allowed to resume face to face teaching. As a result, we were able to re-open our campus in January 2021 and we continued to provide in-person teaching throughout the rest of the 2020/21 academic year.
As a specialist health sciences University College, we are committed to the health and wellbeing of our students and offer complimentary treatment for all students in our 32-room purpose built onsite training clinic. Our clinical facilities also include MRI, digital imaging, quantitative fluoroscopy and diagnostic ultrasound and we are currently constructing a new integrated rehabilitation centre with nine clinic rooms and a multi-zoned rehabilitation space which will be a centre of excellence. Through these on-site clinical services, we offer students the opportunity to experience interprofessional practice, to benefit their future careers.
Student wellbeing and support services are a key priority, the importance of which was highlighted during the pandemic, when the national lockdowns and other constraints inevitably had a detrimental impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing. We have embedded student wellbeing and support services within AECC UC and this has had a significant impact on the uptake of our student support services, which has grown in response to student demand. During the 2021/22 academic year, we will be making accommodation changes which will enable our student support services to be located in a ground floor location within our main building. This will mean that our they will have more prominence and the improved physical accessibility is designed to encourage students to seek help when they need it.
Collaboration between our student services and the Students’ Union provides support for international students who had to quarantine and any self-isolating students to provide free food support packs and advice and guidance on local services.
A large number of the full-time student population were members of the University College’s gym. Unfortunately, this facility had to be closed throughout the 2020-21 academic year due to Covid restrictions, but the University College worked in partnership with the Students’ Union during this period to invest in new shock absorbent flooring, which has a track of astro-turf alongside, and significant new pieces of gym equipment.
We have a human pro-section laboratory onsite which is used regularly by University College students to support and enhance learning in anatomical sciences. This was recently refurbished and now accommodates more pro-section tables, and is the only such facility in a non-medical education institution in the UK.
The University College hosts an annual Future Pathways’ careers fair to assist students in the transition between study and working life. Over 40 chiropractic clinics attended in 2021 with a keynote speaker from the Art of Brilliance. Final year students from the School of Rehabilitation, Sport and Psychology additionally had an employability and futures session run by their course leader.
All courses are accredited by the relevant PSRB where this is appropriate. AECC University College graduates are highly sought after in the workplace and the latest HESA data indicates that 90% of students are in employment, or continuing education, 15 months after graduation.
Financial Status of the University College
Despite the impact of Covid restrictions, which have hit the whole of the Higher Education sector, the University College remains in good financial health, with an operating surplus of £1.1m in 2020-21 and cash reserves of £6.0m at the end of July 2021. This financial robustness allows the University College to continue to provide services to students even in the event of major unforeseen circumstances. This robustness is underpinned by the lack of any borrowings, which allows cash reserves to be directed to further enhance the student experience rather than servicing outside debt.