Category Archives: College

How Birkbeck is widening access to education

This term Birkbeck’s Access and Engagement team held a series of online and in-person events designed to empower prospective students and learners on their journey to university education. In this blog, Isabelle Habib, Access Manager, reflects on the inspiring events.  

Campus visit in March

Birkbeck’s Access and Engagement team have held a number of events this year for prospective students and learners who are interested in finding out more about university study. The first cross-department event was held on campus and it was fantastic to welcome learners to Birkbeck’s home in Bloomsbury; we are already looking forward to hosting further events on campus in the summer term.  

All the activities were shared with our partners who were encouraged to invite their members to register to attend. We were so pleased to be joined by individuals from community groups in Camden and Newham London Boroughs, Further Education Colleges, Trade Unions and Forced Migrant Charities. The aim of these events is to introduce attendees to what they can expect from university and from studying at Birkbeck, in order to build individuals’ knowledge and confidence around the application process. 

Is university for me? 

Our first event of this term was held in February, entitled ‘Is Uni For Me?’, and was a workshop delivered online. We were pleased to be joined by Birkbeck academic Dr Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij, from the Department of Philosophy, who shared a video about ‘Political Knowledge and Preference’, with the group of prospective students. Kristoffer led a lively discussion with the group following the video, giving participants the chance to ask questions about the discipline and how courses are taught at Birkbeck. 

The event also included an introduction to the benefits of university, and participants had the opportunity to hear from two current students about their own experiences of studying at Birkbeck. The workshop was attended by people at different stages in their journey to university and many of the participants went on to join us at further workshops hosted this term.  

Money workshop 

In March, attendees were invited to attend a ‘Money and Student Finance’ event, which was led by Daniel Becker, one of Birkbeck’s Student Advice advisors. Daniel spoke to the group about the process of applying for student finance and we discussed other funding opportunities, such as grants and scholarships. Attendees went away with a better understanding of how the student loan system works and what they need to bear in mind when they apply. Sharing knowledge around financing studies with prospective learners is a key area Birkbeck is improving on.

Team Birkbeck Ambassadors Aditya and Showbi talking to prospective students at the campus visit in March

Campus visit   

The final event in the series, and the most exciting for our team this year, was a ‘Campus Visit and Application Workshop’. This event was held in March on a beautiful sunny day, that really showed off Bloomsbury at its best! The first official cross-department event delivered in person since the start of the pandemic, it felt fantastic to be able to offer advice on campus again and show off our facilities to prospective students. As part of the day, we hosted an application workshop in one of the Birkbeck IT suites, and it was brilliant to speak with individuals about their educational aspirations.  

In addition to our Get Started activities this term, our Access Officers have been hosting specialized events for partners. We ran our second Taster Series of the academic year with the Department of Law, and launched the activities in the lead up to applications opening for the Compass Project Scholarship, that provides a stepping stone into higher education for people from a forced migrant background. We are now really looking forward to the Summer term and to meeting even more prospective learners at activities on campus.   

Further information 

Share

How free taster courses at Birkbeck are inspiring people to enter higher education

For those who have never studied at a UK university, knowing where to start can be daunting. In this blog, Birkbeck Access Officer Ali Sheldrick discusses the taster courses available at Birkbeck and demonstrates how the courses are run by explaining the recent Management taster course.  

Applying to university can be a confusing and unsettling process. Deciding which course to take, which university to study at, whether to study part-time or full-time, or in-person or online, can easily overwhelm students. And this is especially true for those who are thinking about going to university for the first time. To help with this, Birkbeck’s Access and Engagement department have created a series of free taster courses to provide a way for potential students to try out a university level course in an easily accessible way.  

Our ‘Get Started’ taster courses are a free programme of classes which aim to give people without experience of studying at a UK university an opportunity to sample evening study at Birkbeck. We run each course in collaboration with Birkbeck lecturers, with a two-hour evening class running once a week over four or five weeks.  The courses also include access to a series of pre-recorded lectures and a Birkbeck site packed with free resources and readings which students can access in their own time. 

“The pre work was amazing and very insightful… it was a useful taster for what studying Management will be like at university”
Management taster course attendee

 Management taster course 

Our Management taster course ran for the first time between November and December 2021, and followed the success of courses in Law, Psychology for Education, History and Archaeology, and Community Leadership in the 2020-21 academic year.  

The pre-recorded lectures and first four classes were delivered by Dr Ian Harrison and Dr Mary Otiotio, both lecturers in the Department of Management at Birkbeck. The classes were delivered online using Microsoft Teams to a cohort of around 30 learners, many of whom were engaging with a university and online study for the first time.  

The course content revolved around some of the foundational questions in Management studies; asking attendees to consider ‘What is management?’, ‘What role does management play in organisations?’, ‘Who are managers?’ and ‘What do managers do?’. These broad questions were brought to life through case studies featuring Apple, Tesco and the NHS, and attendees contributed to classes by discussing experiences from their own places of work. Discussions even included thought experiments involving broccoli and Marmite! Here’s what we covered each week:  

Week 1: Managing in organisations  

In the first session we considered the role of management in organisations, what management is and what it involves, who managers are and what they do. 

Week 2: Models of management  

We introduced theories and models of management and how they have shaped management thinking and influenced approaches to managing in organisations. 

Week 3: Leadership and motivation  

We considered a specific but integral aspect of management: leadership. We looked into what leadership means, what it involves and how it influences other workers in organisations.  

Week 4: People management and diversity  

We focussed on the key resource of any organisation: its people. How we manage, inspire and empower a diverse workforce to achieve individual and organisational goals.  

Week 5: Emotional intelligence for managers and continuing your learning 

In the first part of this class, we explored the importance of emotional intelligence to managers, what it involves and what we can do to increase our own emotional intelligence. The second part of the session provided attendees with an opportunity to talk with current students and reflect on what they learned during the course. We finished the course by exploring potential next steps for attendees’ learning journeys. 

“The course exceeded my expectations. I came with no knowledge prior to the sessions and I feel enlightened.”
Management taster course attendee

The Access and Engagement department will be running a second free taster course in Law starting on Monday 28 February 2022 – sign up here to register your place! 

We will also be delivering a taster course in Psychology in Education in May 2022 (date tbc) and a wider programme of outreach activity with both current and prospective students across the academic year, including ‘Is University for Me?’ events in February and May 2022, plus much more!  

For more information about our work and how to get involved, please email getstarted@bbk.ac.uk or explore our webpage 

Share

Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic

International students across Birkbeck came together last week to catch up and discuss the responses of their home countries to the pandemic. Professor Sanjib Bhakta, Assistant Dean (Internationalisation and Partnership), writes about the successful event in this blog. 

Professor Sanjib Professor introduces Professor Ulrike Hahn. Photo credit: Harish Patel

An afternoon tea at Birkbeck on Thursday 25 November was attended by international students from a variety of Schools, including ScienceArts, and Business, Economics and InformaticsProfessor Nick KeepExecutive Dean of the School of Science, inaugurated the session by welcoming the students and sharing how the School has nurtured a long-standing international culture. He explained how the school has created many fruitful cooperatives through building international alumni networks over the years.  

Professor Sanjib Bhakta, Assistant Dean (Internationalisation and Partnership), highlighted the importance of sustaining cultural roots while studying at Birkbeck. He also spoke on how the planned international students’ experience events throughout this academic year aim to enrich further diversity in Birkbeck’s life-long learning environment.  

Students shared their personal experience of the COVID-19 period in relation to their home countries; how economies, administration and politics have continued to play a crucial role in policy making and implementation of these policies towards tackling the ongoing pandemic differently in various parts of the world. This discussion was prompted by the question – ‘What lessons have we learned from this pandemic so far?’ Everyone enthusiastically participated in the active conversation which was followed by watching an interview with Professor Ulrike Hahn, Professor of Psychology, on the COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Handbook and Wiki. The handbook was published with the aim to demystify the myth of COVID vaccinations and solve the challenge of vaccine hesitancy. We re-enforced how the world is still in the midst of a pandemic and vaccine uptake in London particularly is lower than many other cities in the UK. Everyone appreciated the significance of such an outreach initiative.  

On a lighter note, everyone also shared their hobbies outside their own curriculum and continued chatting while taking sips of tea. Harish Patel, Technical Services Manager in the School of Science, demonstrated his passion for photography and shared his knack with students. All participants were appreciative of such event that created the opportunity for them to interact with other peers in-person.  

Professor Nick Keep said of the event: “It was nice to hear the diverse experiences of students coming from different countries and regions.  Sanjib did a great job of opening up friendly and insightful discussion.” 

 Further information 

Share