As the academic year draws to a close, our students have been sharing their experience of their studies over the last term. Though the circumstances have been incredibly unusual, staff and students alike have risen to the challenge, taking on the changes in their stride and continuing to engage and learn. At an undergraduate representative meeting, we spoke to the students about the last term and their overall Harper experiences.
Lauren France, a final year student completing her BSc (Hons) Veterinary Nursing degree, will be staying with Harper as the new Vice President of the Students Union. While university had felt like a distant ambition at school, she is now the first in her family to gain a degree and be part of the university experience.
Lauren’s determination before joining Harper saw her volunteering weekly at a local veterinary practice, working one morning a week for the two years she was at college. After the Harper Adams Experience, she knew campus was the place for her, saying: “The community feel on Harper's campus was unlike anywhere else I'd visited and it just felt like the right place for me.”
However, after Covid-19 disrupted campus life, students had to adapt to a new way of working. Lauren commented: “Changing to online teaching has been strange, but easier to adapt to than I'd originally thought it would be. Our lecturers are still just an email or phone call away and the Veterinary Nursing team have been amazing at supporting us. I think a really successful element is how quickly we've adapted to using online video call facilities like Microsoft Teams - it helps to still get some face to face contact.
“Whilst these are difficult times, I do feel that a lot of students accept that these are unprecedented circumstances and that the university is doing its best in line with guidance. I think the university has adapted as well as they can given the situation and seem open to suggestions from students about how to improve. Majority of my teaching had already been completed by Easter so I haven't had any actual online lectures but I do feel supported through the process of completing my final year exams.
“My tip for working from home would be to separate your working space from your 'rest' space to help give your brain the distinction between time to work and time to rest and relax.”
Likewise, first year FdSc Agri-business student Joe Bramall shares a strong passion for his subject. Having grown up on a Cheshire dairy farm, agriculture is a huge part of Joe’s life. He commented: “Being at Harper has really opened my eyes to the importance of the food supply chain, especially in the world we are living in today. Part of the reason behind choosing Agri-business was seeing the importance of sales and marketing for the UK agriculture sector. We’re seeing competition that we’ve never experienced before as a sector and making sure consumers back British farming is more important than it ever has been.”
Joe was pleased with the easy transition from campus to home working. He said: “Harper being the modern university of the year has embraced technology really well. One example being the library, despite being physically closed, the team is still contactable and have been really helpful when I have written to them. They have made a lot of content available online, such as The John Nix Pocketbook, which has helped me to write parts of my alternative assessments.”
Staff were swift to update means of assessment to meet the requirements while working from home. Joe explained: “One of my assignments used some software only available on campus but as soon as the home learning info was issued the assignment brief was changed, within a few days, so we could complete the work from home.”
When sharing his view, Joe remarked: “Being part of committees has given me an insight into how much work goes on behind the scenes at the university that we as students generally don’t see. I think a lot of people don’t realise the amount of work that goes behind the smooth transition from in class work to remote working that we saw.
“Despite all the changes, everyone I have spoken to from Harper has been really helpful and replied straight away. My placement for next year has been cancelled, due to the pandemic, and I have had some great guidance and support from staff which has really helped me sort what was a bit of a disappointing, unclear time!
“Whilst there is a place for adopting some of the new techniques used since we moved to home learning I cannot wait to get back to Harper to see my pals and have another incredible Harper night out!”
Hannah Scott-Cook is studying BSc (Hons) Agriculture, enjoying the broad range of topics and relevancy of her learning to the wider world. With a love of science and nature, Hannah shared that the high quality facilities and opportunities compared to other educational institutions were the reason she chose to come to Harper.
For Hannah, moving online was simple. She said: “The switch to online learning was relatively easy. The lecturers did well at providing lecture material promptly and I think the university as a whole has adapted well. I’ve already been involved in a few meetings which run smoothly online.
“My top tip for studying at home would be: listen to what your body needs and make to do lists!”
Reflecting on the last meeting, Hannah explained: “Looking to the future, I asked if we could focus on some more “academic” based clubs like a book club or agronomy club to help students develop their learning whilst sharing and learning from older students. Shortly after my request, a book club was formed - the meetings were fun, friendly and I had a chance to meet other people across years and courses.”
As we continue to work online, we hope to maintain the student satisfaction we have achieved so far and help students to do their best while working to achieve a degree that matters.
Adapting to teaching is not all we have been finding an alternative solution to! Our Virtual Open Day brings you to campus from home, inviting you to explore our courses, meet academics, and experience the Harper community for yourself. Our next undergraduate event is on July 22 - you can sign up here to join us!