Priorities:Lancaster University Student Priorities

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After interviewing students and researching the I&E ecosystem of our campus, we found that many students are missing out on events they might be interested in, due to a missing connection between different parts of the university. We came up with a few possible solutions on how we could inform students about events, workshops and people outside of their degree, that they might be interested in.

Watch this video for more information about who we are and what our aims are:

Strategy 1: Guide to ensure that students know where they can get advice and further information about business ideas and innovation

As there are lots of resources on campus but many students are not aware of them, or are confused because of all the different websites, emails and contact points, a small flyer with the most important information could help: an easy and condensed guide for students about where they can get advice about business ideas and start-ups, have an overview of the resources available and where they can get further information and ways to develop their skills.

Feedback from students showed that the guide would have to be easy to understand with only the most important information on them, otherwise they might just land in the bin. It would have to be clear that every student can access those resources, no matter what they study or what skills they have. To make it most useful and least intimidating to students, the flyer should be as small and concise as possible.

Strategy 2: Timetable that shows all events on campus

Using a window of the “Work in Progress” space, which is located in the centre of campus, would be perfect to put a big timetable with all the events, workshops, competitions etc. that are related to innovation, entrepreneurship, start-ups and design thinking. Students would walk past it everyday, can have a quick overview of the events and if they´re interested in an event they can scan the QR-code next to the event to get further information about it and book their place. To keep the timetable up-to-date, we would create a template which can be filled out by the people responsible for the event and once a week the timetable would be renewed.

To ensure that it gets students´ attention, the timetable would have to be easy to navigate with a clear structure. By doing this, it would make it easy for students to just have a quick look at it while walking past it and having a look at it for longer when they have spotted an event of interest. As interviewed students have expressed their desire for convenience when getting informed this would be an important aspect as well as the QR-codes.

Strategy 3: To ensure that Innovation and Entrepreneurship opportunities didn’t go amiss by students who either lacked the confidence to get involved or who studied subjects which aren’t traditionally creative

There was a need to develop something that encouraged students who aren’t already involved in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem on campus but have the urge to get involved and don’t know where to start. When prototyping, the strongest idea was an ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship kick-starter.’ 

When testing this idea the main feedback received from first and second-year students were that it needed to be short and straight to the point, they didn’t want the filler that often led to them becoming uninterested in lectures, they wanted something fun and engaging. Other feedback was that it should also be a chance for people to meet one another, and there could be some icebreakers included helping like-minded students build their network and feel part of a community, especially in the first year.

After gathering the feedback some changes were made, the duration these Kickstarter classes should be 30 minutes, the first half being a rapid class on design thinking its value, and the second half is an overview of what is on offer for students and who is there to help them. These sessions will be quick in order to keep students engaged throughout and to maximise their learning in a short space of time. The point of these sessions will be to not only give them some guidance on what is available to them but also the confidence to engage and contribute in these communities, to help them to expand their own skills and experience.

Strategy 4: Provide role models and sources of inspiration and advice from the student body

Providing access to tools and resources to students wouldn't be enough to build a strong environment of I&E at Lancaster. Students would also need to see others who were actively engaging and promoting competitions and workshops that focused on innovation and creativity. This group of students would be called Changers. They would exist to document student innovation and generate projects for students to apply their studies in a real world scenario.

After consulting members of administration who had experience with students doing work on campus for feedback, they explained that students would need to be paid for work done in this role if it were to be rolled out to the general student population. Also, they emphasized that the creation of teams of students from across different faculties was where Changers could have the biggest impact on the university and its reputation.

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