Following a discussion that ensued in my group during a class activity on our first experiences in school and what we hoped to change on the course, so many of us had a tonne of things to say and most of these issues needed to be discussed one way or another. I decided to bell this cat by writing an un-mailed letter to the vice-chancellor of Coventry University.
By the way, the Vice-Chancellor and CEO of COV UNI is John Latham (I just discovered many students do not know the name of the Vice-chancellor)
School of Media and Performing Arts
3rd July 2016.
The Vice Chancellor,
Priory Street, Coventry
On behalf of every international student, I would first like to congratulate you and your indefatigable team for putting Coventry University on a global pedestal and introducing the world to the beautiful and multicultural city of Coventry. Coventry university in the last 2 decades has no doubt held on to been a modern university and a school that values student experience not just by the awards she has won but in making intentional efforts to hold on to her core values of strengthening student experience. Secondly, I would like to apologise in advance for the ‘non-academic’ style of writing this letter* but it is one and (probably)* only way I can express my thought without any bias. Forgive my manners. My name is Tolu Akintaro and I am a Masters student in Communication Culture and Media. School of Media and Performing arts.
My decision to come to Coventry University has been one of the best decisions I made. The city is very rich culture, history and opens her hospitable doors to people of various race and background which has made me feel more at home than any other country I have travelled to. Coventry University is an evolving school especially in the area of technology and engineering (I wish every other faculty could enjoy the kind of accolade the engineering faculty have been given over the years).
In lure of the above, I would like to state what I would rather not term as complaints but suggestions to improve the teaching and learning in Coventry University especially as it relates to my course of study- media, communications and culture. First, for most international students from Asia and third world countries who happen to be the majority of students in Coventry University, they face a major issue of writing essays the way and manner that is expected of them either due to the fact that they were not groomed to write in that manner or the writing style from their home country is totally strange to what is acceptable at Coventry University. I understand that it was due to challenges of this sort that the centre for academic writing was created. However, it seems to me that the centre is overwhelmed with the number of students it has to cater to year in- year out. For example, I have to book an appointment a month before just to see an adviser and another month to be sure my essay has been finally read by one of the readers(by this time, the deadline for the essay submission would have come and gone). I also discovered that the essay writing for the engineering department varies from what is accepted at Media and communications. Unfortunately, the staff at the centre for academic writing do not in any way point out these variations. (we are just required to write in a certain way- not regarding if the faculty accepts it). That been said, I would like to propose that all Faculties have a centre for academic writing both for Undergraduate and postgraduate students. That way, the burden on centre for academic writing would reduce to it’s barest minimum and students would be able to have convenient one-on-one sessions with the advisors from their various schools who have an understanding of what applies in every department.
Secondly, the school is known to develop professionals in various fields of endeavours and raise young men and women to embody what the phoenix represents. However, I would like to suggest that mentorship should be given to both undergraduates and post-graduates students while at the university. These mentors would not take the place of counsellors at the mental health and wellness centres but can help their various mentees to understand and develop their learning styles and technique, help them to improve on areas where they feel the student is lacking and in need of help as it relates to the profession, and work with the student on finding more professional opportunities that are relevant to the-the students interest. I believe that this method would help many students to consciously develop their strengths in whatever field they have chosen.
Furthermore, as you know, Coventry university was once a polytechnic which from my understanding of the polytechnic curriculum is 60% practical and 40% theory and I personally expect that it should hold on to those values even though she has become a university. Unfortunately, the school especially my course focuses more on theories than on the practical aspect of the course. Inasmuch as the theories are helpful in our everyday lives, the practical skills are what would get us the jobs we hope to apply for when we leave the four walls of this great ivory tower. I am grateful for the opportunity to intern with the Office of Teaching and Learning on her media project #GuideToCampus. This internship has made me learn a plethora of professional skills I did not have an opportunity to learn while as an undergraduate and even as a postgraduate student. Most of the times I asked my lecturers to put me through some practical knowledge of tools that relate to my course, I am directed to watch videos on YOUtube or read a manual. This method of learning cannot be taken for granted however, I am more of a hands-on learner especially when it comes to using tools and gadgets I find difficult to use.sadly, my tutors hardly find the time to understand that. I fear for my colleagues who are settling for all that is taught in class because they might find it difficult to get media jobs in the near future without any form of professional hands-on skill.
As stated above, the school is filled with students from Asia (especially China) and third world countries. I have discovered that the Chinese students in my class find it rather challenging to understand all that the tutor says in English considering English is not their first language. There is usually a lot of bickering in my class because the students try to translate the jargon said in English to Chinese. While they try to translate, they miss out on other important points the lecturer must have made. These students have been bashed unconsciously by the teachers because they try to understand by asking each other what the teacher meant. I would like to suggest that the courses on module be translated into at least two other languages besides English. That is, Chinese and French. I believe that the language society can work in conjunction with the IT department to make this work well. This would in many ways reduce the noise and bashing that the Chinese students face. With UK leaving the EU, I foresee that many students in the future who would apply and gain admission to Coventry University would be students from China and African countries. I believe this would help future students embrace the school as an institution that looks out for their language problems.
Finally, I thank you and your team for being intentional in meeting the needs of students and making the university conducive for learning, I cannot trade this experience for anything in this world. Indeed the school attaining an award in student experience cannot be overemphasised. I also believe that the aforementioned would also improve the student experience in more ways than we can imagine.
I look forward to your feedback
MA Communication,Culture and Media, Coventry University
*Because I have been penalised for my writing style in most of my essays.
* The brackets express my deep thoughts on the issue