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The pandemic may have meant unprecedented times, but staff at the University have been working hard to ensure that the student experience will not only be safe, but a highly valuable one, which is memorable for the right reasons.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chester, Professor Eunice Simmons, said: “It’s understandable that in this exceptional year some prospective students all over the world are approaching university with enthusiasm and some may be apprehensive. We can reassure the latter that initially coming to our University may look a little different, but we’re taking as much as we can from the traditional experience they can expect and adding some new and exciting elements.

“Through our innovative ways of playing sport (using safe, social distancing rules which are unique to the University) or the offer of learning a new language alongside studying for their chosen programme, through to the help and support to make friends and feel at home before they even arrive, we want new students to know we are here to support them both personally and academically as they start the next chapter of their lives. And the same applies to our returning students!”

Student safety is the highest priority, with hand and respiratory hygiene practices promoted throughout and social distancing measures in place across the University’s sites and partnership accommodation. Students will also receive important information about the University’s expectations for their responsibilities as ‘Citizen Students’ within their local communities.

The University scored well above the average satisfaction rating in every aspect of the 2020 undergraduate National Student Survey (NSS) - with a particularly strong performance in listening to its student body.

It achieved an impressive 86.4% for overall satisfaction – 3.7% above the sector average of 82.6% and earned above average scores in all areas of this year’s Survey. These results were achieved with an impressive response rate of 72% (4% higher than the sector average of 68%). The University is also the highest performing higher education institution in the North West for listening to the Student Voice.

The University is working closely with Chester Students’ Union to create new and innovative ways for students to get to know each other. Students can join a ‘preparing for University’ live chat here in August; there’s a Facebook Offer Holders Group and most departments are holding pre-arrival socials to introduce the friendly faces of fellow classmates and lecturers before term starts. New students can also be matched with a Peer Mentor who will give a warm welcome and answer any questions about University life.

The pre-induction programme will start earlier than usual this year and the University will be in touch with all new students to make sure they know about any activities that they might be interested in, including Welcome Week.

The University of Chester has been recognised as one of the country’s top 10 universities for student support in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2020 and every student will be allocated a Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) to help with personal development. The Mental Health and Wellbeing team is also on hand to help students settle in and offer support with any issues.

Teaching will be delivered through ‘The Chester Blend’ which will place an emphasis on socially distanced teaching face-to-face as well as on online lectures. From speaking to students, the University understands the value placed on face-to-face teaching and is planning as much social learning in small groups for seminars and practicals as is safely possible.

Also in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2020, the University was voted in the top 10 universities for job prospects. Its volunteering, internships and work-based learning are all offering virtual alternatives, ensuring that students will still benefit from developing new skills and confidence as well as building an e-portfolio of all their new skills and achievements. 

Across the world, sport and physical activity are already looking different and the University has come up with ‘Chester Rules’ - customised games that can be enjoyed without the worry of close contact. There will be personal training sessions and Couch to 5K on offer too.

The Chester and Shrewsbury campuses are ideally located for getting about – students can easily walk or cycle into the city centre or to campus from their accommodation without using public transport. The Warrington Campus is easy to commute to. All first years will be guaranteed accommodation with different types to choose from including self-catered through to fully-catered. From this year, local students to the Chester and Warrington Campuses will be able to stay overnight in University accommodation on a ‘pay as you go’ basis. Campus-based catering outlets are going cashless and will also be offering click and collect to take food out.

An exciting development is the option for new students to learn a new language. Part-time courses will be on offer for £100 (reimbursed after completing 80% of the course).

Adam Bodger, Deputy Director of Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions at the University of Chester, said: “If you are interested in going to university this September but have not yet applied, it’s not too late - Clearing applications can now be made through UCAS. Even if you have already applied but are now reconsidering where you would like to study, Clearing provides students with the opportunity to decline their Firm choice place and refer their application to another university. However, it is always recommended that you speak to your preferred university before doing this and, at Chester, there is plenty of help at hand to ensure you are able to get September sorted. Staff and students of the University are available to  answer any questions you may have; everything from what courses are available in Clearing to how to secure your place at Chester.

“You can also message academic staff online to find out more about a course you are interested in or chat to a student online about what it is really like to study at Chester. The University is also running a live chat event from 2pm to 4pm on August 7 to help prospective students with Preparing for Clearing.”

The University has also put together a series of blog posts about Clearing: Student Story: Applying to Chester through Clearing

Clearing up your burning questions – Let’s get September sorted.

Clearing 2020 at Chester: What You Need to Know

To find out more about the University’s plan for September visit www.chester.ac.uk/september

For more information about Clearing visit www.chester.ac.uk/clearing

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