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Supporting student attendance and engagement – University of Reading

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  • Supporting Student Attendance and Engagement

Supporting student attendance and engagement

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Why do we need to support Student Attendance & Engagement?

The University wants all students to be successful in their chosen programme of study and endeavours to provide the opportunities and support needed to enable success. This includes support for students' wellbeing, academic achievement, and progression through their programme.

Student engagement in every aspect of their studies, is key to academic success and the UoR Student Charter therefore sets an expectation that students engage fully with all academic commitments.

Low engagement may indicate a cause for concern which, if identified and managed quickly, can increase the likelihood of students receiving the support needed to help them to be successful.

Using data to facilitate early identification of students who may be struggling to engage is key to proactively providing support to students. The pages here outline the data sets that are currently available to support attendance and engagement, and how these can be accessed and used.

Attendance Management & Engagement Policy

Details of the University's expectations and the approach to the management of student attendance and engagement are set out in the Attendance Management and Engagement Policy (PDF-334KB), which is effective from Academic Year 2021/22. The policy:

  • Outlines expectations for attendance and engagement.
  • Provides a level of transparency for students in relation to the types of data that might be used to help inform conversations around a student's attendance and engagement.
  • Outlines the approaches that may be used to intervene with a student where attendance and engagement with their programme of study might be a cause for concern.
  • Outlines where attendance and engagement data is used to fulfil externally stipulated requirements placed on the University of Reading.

Responsibilities for Attendance & Engagement

Students at UoR are part of a community that provides many opportunities for learning and development. Attendance at teaching & learning events, either on campus or online, is an important part of integration and contribution to the University community and will enable students to take advantage of the academic support & resources available, as well as developing social networks with others studying the same modules.

The University experience gives students the chance to develop professional as well as academic skills that will provide valuable preparation for future careers and working life. This includes activities such as group work or peer discussions, where engagement, attendance & participation also has a direct impact on other students.

In partnership with the University, students are encouraged to take responsibility for managing their own attendance and engagement. There are many channels of support depending on individual circumstances and Academic Tutors and Student Support Co-ordinators play a key role in ensuring that students are provided with details of the help that is available and are signposted accordingly.

Attendance and engagement data are gathered and used by University staff to help identify clear issues and facilitate the opportunity to make early and positive interventions to support students to get back on track with their studies. Underlying principles governing interventions are supporting the welfare of students, increasing the likelihood of success in their programme, and reducing the risk of a student withdrawing.

However, in cases where students continue to have low engagement in their studies, teaching and/or support centre staff may recommend that formal interventions are initiated, following the Academic Engagement & Fitness to Study policy.

How will Attendance & Engagement be managed in 2021/22?

Many of the tools that have previously been used to help manage attendance will continue to be relevant this academic year and there is information and links on these pages to explain what is available.

It is also recognised that in 2021/22 there will continue to be increased challenges in managing attendance and engagement in a blended environment, with some teaching and learning taking place remotely. The Attendance & Engagement project team has developed reports that aim to bring together a range of data sets that help more easily identify those students who are not engaging with their studies (including Blackboard logins, combined attendance, and non-submission of coursework). Some of these reports are new or enhanced for AY 2021/22.

Proactive interventions with students who have been identified by these reports as potentially at risk is key. Guidance on the role of academic and professional services staff in following up with students to offer support is provided in Use of Attendance and Engagement Data.

Students studying with a Tier 4/Student Route Visa

If a pattern of low attendance or non-engagement becomes a concern, the support offered by staff should not be any different for home, EU or International students.

The Home Office UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) does, however, have requirements for students studying with a Tier 4/Student Route visa, even if they have been permitted to start this academic year at a distance before travelling to the UK. These mean that failure to attend and academically engage satisfactorily may put a student's visa status at risk. It is the responsibility of all students who hold Tier 4/Student Route visas to ensure they are familiar with the Home Office requirements and the University's Immigration Compliance policy for students.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have introduced new concessions for the first two terms of the academic year 2021/22, whereby students holding Tier 4/Student Route visas can continue to be sponsored if they meet the UKVI published concession and specifically cannot travel to the UK due to travel restrictions. Once in the UK, students have to be attending on campus. Currently, the University are only supporting students studying certain programmes at a distance for the Autumn term and expect students to be on campus for the start of the spring term in January. The University can only maintain sponsorship for the Tier 4/Student Route visa, providing the student is enrolled and engaging with their programme either on campus, or at a distance providing they are outside the UK and meet the UKVI concessions. Students must intend to transition to the UK campus for face-to-face learning as soon as it is possible to do so. Students who withdraw from their programme or suspend for the academic year, or fail to re-enrol, will be subject to normal sponsorship rules, whereby Tier 4/Student Route sponsorship will be withdrawn.

The International Student Advisory & Home Office Compliance Team within Student Services are available to provide support and advice to students and academic colleagues in relation to Tier 4/Student Route. They are also the team responsible for oversight of Tier 4/Student Route students' engagement requirements as determined by their visa status, including those studying at a distance in relation to the visa requirements and the concession for the start of the academic year 2021/22. This however should not change the use of engagement data by Teaching & Support Centre/Henley & ISLI programme team staff to help provide support to students from an academic & welfare perspective.

Data Protection and Student Attendance & Engagement data

Any attendance and engagement data held at student level is considered to be 'personal data' and therefore adequate data protection controls must be in place.

Wherever possible, data should be held on central systems that have formal procedures for managing access permissions.

When it is necessary to hold data in spreadsheets or other 'off platform' formats, data must not be held on staff personal drives. Collaborative folders or Teams sites that are used for storing student attendance data must have appropriate access permissions applied, so that members of staff are only granted access to data that they need to use to support students.

Tip: Please remember that Microsoft Teams is designed as collaborative space and not as long-term storage.

Any data held must be in a location and format that is easily accessible, both by staff who need to use it and for the purposes of fulfilling an access request from an individual student. Any student can request a copy of their personal data at any time.

Privacy Notices are available on the IMPS website.

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