Nicky Stecker-Doxat, who has been in post since June, talks about the new role and the challenges ahead.
What does the role of Educational Policy Development Officer entail?
I’ll be supporting the implementation of the education strategy through developing detailed policy, including the development of key areas of admissions policy. Working with the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education, the Academic Registrar and Head of Admissions, I’ll be supporting the work of the Education and Student Experience Executive Group (ESEEG), whose role is to lead the implementation of the education strategy.
Working closely with colleagues from Strategy and Planning and the newly formed Institutional Research, I’ll also be monitoring progress against the strategy’s milestones, targets and key performance indicators to make sure we’re doing what we said we’d do.
What prompted you to apply for the job?
I’ve been with the University since 2006 and during that time I’ve worked in Recruitment and Admissions, Student Administration and Assessment, and Exams, Awards and Graduation. This job appealed to me because it doesn’t just focus on one area but covers virtually the whole student life cycle. I’m really excited to be taking on this new role, particularly at a time when there are so many changes taking place in the higher education sector.
What policy areas are you currently focusing on?
We know that the student profile is changing and we want to make sure we are supporting students as individuals, rather than as a homogeneous group. So I’m working with colleagues across the University to recognise this and work out how to personalise the education, the experience and the support we offer to our students.
One of the education strategy’s key priorities is to revolutionise the way we deliver our education. This ties in with this year’s Enhancement Theme (a focus for activity to improve the quality of learning opportunities), which is ‘technology enhanced learning’. I am currently working with colleagues from the Institute for Learning, Innovation and Development (ILIaD) and across the wider University to help implement the activities relating to this theme.
On the admissions side, I’m working on a number of policy development projects. One of the University’s key recruitment and admissions aims is to recruit students from a wide range of backgrounds. With this in mind, I’ll be reviewing the success of the first year of implementation of the contextual admissions policy, which was piloted last year with the aim of widening student access. The policy sets out a number of criteria – for example whether students are from a low-performing school or have been in care – that faculties then take in to consideration when reviewing applications.
I’m also working on an incoming visiting student policy that can be used across the University. This will give faculties clarity on the appropriate application procedures and ensure that our visiting students, such as those on Erasmus programmes or coming to undertake research, are treated in a consistent way. Another project is a review of our English language requirements. There are a number of different requirement levels across the University and my role will be to look at this variation in more detail.
What do you find most satisfying about working for the University?
During my time at Southampton I have worked with many passionate, enthusiastic people who take pride in working at the University and who go out of their way to provide an excellent student experience here. To be part of that is a great privilege.