Annual Review 2021: Investing in the campus and student experience

Intercity Place – a new home for the next generation of health professionals

The transformation of an iconic city railway station building into a new facility that will help educate the next generation of health professionals is under way – and ahead of schedule. The University and appointed contractor Kier have carried out enabling works at the 11-storey Intercity House – now renamed Intercity Place – including the removal of fixtures and fittings, to be replaced with specialist equipment for the training of nurses, midwives, paramedics, physiotherapists and other allied health professionals. Refurbishment and reuse of the existing building will reduce the carbon impact and is highly sustainable, and facade enhancement will support a sustainable heating, cooling and ventilation strategy. The project will be finished well in advance of the 2023–24 academic year. Therefore, new students arriving in 2022 will train in its facilities during their studies.

<p>Intercity Place progress - August 2021</p>
<p>Judith Petts</p>

This is an important development for both the University and the city, and it is exciting to see it really taking shape. The University is already the largest provider of healthcare training in the South West, and this will dramatically enhance the education and experience we can offer students across the Faculty of Health. It will ensure we can continue to meet the demand for frontline hospital and healthcare workers in Plymouth, the wider South West and beyond.

Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor.

Careers Service offers new curriculum support

The Careers Service has embarked on a major programme of curriculum support with a number of subjects, ensuring careers education is now fully and systematically embedded across programmes and that it complements ‘on-demand’ central services. This curriculum support included a new one-day ‘Enhance Your Future’ development programme for first years, with overwhelmingly positive feedback from students. The programme was designed to ensure students engage with career thinking and action planning from an early stage of their University experience, allowing sufficient time for them to acquire the relevant skills, experience and networks to ensure they are competitively placed to compete for the best graduate jobs.

<p>Student walking past the student services/student hub reception desk.</p>

Remote patient consultations: a first in South-West medical teaching

In a first for medical teaching in the South West, the University has begun to use new technology that enables students to see patient consultations remotely. The Microsoft HoloLens involves a consultant wearing a headlight-like device while conducting a consultation at the University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHPNHST), with students watching and interacting from screens in the University’s new expanded teaching space in Plymouth Science Park. Professor Hisham Khalil was the first to trial the technology. Students were able to interact with Hisham and the patient in real time and benefit from the additional features of the HoloLens such as graphics and data being shown simultaneously onscreen.

At Plymouth, we’re known for the amount and quality of clinical exposure we give to our students, and COVID-19 has posed significant challenges. But thanks to this new technology, students can talk to the patient and me, and can see everything we’re doing throughout the appointment. It’s a fantastic piece of equipment and enables us to deliver excellent experiences while ensuring everyone remains safe.

Professor Hisham Khalil, Ear, Nose and Throat Consultant at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, and Head of the Peninsula Medical School

School of Society and Culture

A commitment to hands-on learning and the flexibility for students to swap modules from across 17 disciplines are two of the defining characteristics of the new School of Society and Culture, which launched in October. Bringing together the former Schools of Humanities and Performing Arts, and Law, Criminology and Government, the new school is using partnerships with major organisations such as The Box, Theatre Royal Plymouth and HM Prison Exeter to create practical learning opportunities for its students. And from their second year onwards, students will have the option to swap in modules from across law, performing arts, social science, and history and the humanities, enabling them to personalise their degrees.

<p>People in the School of Society and Cultre working in an open plan arts space/studio</p>

By focusing on the impact our disciplines can have in the real world – and giving students genuine experience of putting this into practice – we are supporting the next generation of change-makers and showing the value of these critical subjects to society.

Professor Annika Bautz, Head of the School of Society and Culture

Technology enhanced learning

The University has unveiled its digital vision for 2030 and some of the guiding principles surrounding the provision of ‘blended learning’. The Digital Strategic Plan (2021–25) sets out a goal for the University to be recognised for its digital provision on a global stage, offering solutions that are ‘high performing, flexible and scalable to enable the institution to adapt quickly and thrive in a constantly changing landscape’, and which ‘empower its students and staff to make a difference’. Education and the Student Experience are significant foci, from the implementation of edgeless learning spaces, to improving accessibility and inclusion to overcome barriers, to engaging with digital services.

Alongside this, the University also released its Blended Learning Principles 2021–22, which were developed in consultation with staff and students. The principles are designed to harness the key positive experiences across areas including curriculum design, independent learning, assessment, academic community, and digital literacy and support, while mitigating the challenges. It also establishes some overarching principles, such as the need to develop activities designed to stimulate, engage and support students, in an inclusive academic community, regardless of whether they are delivered in person or online.

Leading innovation in education for sustainable development

The University’s Centre for Sustainable Futures (CSF) has an international reputation for leading and facilitating innovative approaches to curriculum development. This year, CSF made a significant contribution to the writing of revised guidance on Education for Sustainable Development by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education and Advance HE. Published in March 2021, the guidance made particular reference to the University’s approach to developing ‘future fit’ students who can be civic change leaders through engagement with an active, participatory and interdisciplinary pedagogy. This applied learning approach uses the campus and the Sustainability Hub as a space for student innovation, co-creation and research. At the same time, community partnership working across the city of Plymouth and the local area offers place-based learning opportunities where our students are engaged with education as sustainability. This can be seen, for example, through the development of the Low Carbon Devon Internship Programme, funded through the European Regional Development Fund, which offers short-term paid internship opportunities to students and recent graduates to work on carbon reduction projects with locally-based enterprises.

<p>Sustainability Hub</p>

Integrated health and social care education

A new centre has been launched to enable students on health and social care courses to learn with and from each other. The Plymouth Integrative Health and Social Care Education Centre (PIHC) brings together courses, staff and students from every school in the Faculty of Health – Nursing and Midwifery, Health Professions, Biomedical Sciences, Dentistry, Medicine and Psychology. Students will have the opportunity to undertake interprofessional learning with a focus upon instilling strong teamworking ethic.

The best health and social care happens when doctors, dentists, nurses, health professionals, social workers, psychologists and more all work well together. PIHC will make that more likely by giving students greater opportunities to learn with and from each other.

Dr Phil Gee, Director of PIHC

New postgraduate programme

A new postgraduate programme has been launched to better train dentists in treating tooth pain. The MSc Endodontics will focus on the causes, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries associated with tooth dental pulp. MSc Endodontics joins the four existing postgraduate programmes run in the University’s Peninsula Dental School: MSc Restorative Dentistry, MSc Oral Surgery, MSc Periodontology and the Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP) Articulation Route.