University of Kent receive Outstanding Support for Students Award

Kent wins national award for student support for second year running

The University has been recognised for the second year running for its outstanding support for students at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards.

Kent’s project, known as OPERA, to improve access to learning for all by implementing a range of accessibility initiatives, was recognised at the UK higher education sector’s top awards ceremony on 29 November.

A further endorsement for Kent’s inclusive student experience, this award for ‘Outstanding Support for Students’ at the 2018 THE Awards comes one year after Kent won the same award for its acclaimed Student Success Project.

Launched in 2016, OPERA (Opportunity, Productivity, Engagement, Reducing barriers, Achievement) challenges the need for students declaring a disability to request a ‘ladder’ to overcome obstacles in the form of individual adjustments for each of the barriers they encounter.

In collaboration with students, staff from a range of departments identified 2,600 individual adjustments, and, by offering a proactive type of support that aims to remove obstacles from the outset, have transformed the culture of the University into one where a disability is no longer viewed as a ‘problem’ but as an opportunity to make things better for everyone.

Providing a high-quality inclusive student experience is at the heart of Kent. The OPERA project,  part of Student Support and Wellbeing, demonstrates how well staff work with students to identify areas where they can really make a difference in helping them fulfil their potential.

The University was also shortlisted at the 2018 Awards for Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year for the work of Professor Nicola Shaughnessy in its School of Arts.

Professor Shaughnessy has nurtured several generations of neuro-diverse postgraduate students to success through creative and interdisciplinary approaches. This includes offering twice-monthly shorter tutorials and making use of Skype, interactive and open space technologies.