Headlines: January 29th, 2009

Government ministers are to look at ways to interact directly with university students. The idea of ministers going on line to talk to students about the issues that matter most to them is part of a response to a report from the National Student Forum.

Lord Young, the Minister for Students, and Ministers from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills said they would seek ways to develop more innovative and immediate ways of listening and talking to students. The measures are likely to include online discussions and a blog. The idea is to allow students to keep up with what their contemporaries are saying to ministers when they visit campuses around the country and to provide a direct link to issues being discussed at the National Student Forum.

In a report last year the Forum identified issues that affected students and it produced a series of recommendations to help improve their everyday experience. Now, in its response the DIUS has said it will ask the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service to look at the ease of navigation around its system. The Student Loans Company will be required to give reports directly to the Forum on planned improvements to student finance. Lord Young will also write to all universities and colleges and student unions to ask them to look at ways to engage more with students and to improve the information and support provided to them.

Lord Young said, “We want to hear directly what students think about their university experience and how their institutions can help prepare them for the future,” and he added, “Many students are part of the Facebook generation and we need to find new and more immediate ways of talking and listening to them as they talk to each other.”