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Working together to ensure student success

In this interview, Professor Adam Fagan, Vice President (Education & Student Success) and Steven Suresh, KCLSU President, discuss the new Student Voice Partnership Agreement and how this collaboration helps you make a success of your time at university. They put into context some recent results of nationwide evaluative exercises – the Teaching Excellence Framework and National Student Survey (NSS), plus the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) - and its impact on you. They also explain how you can make your voice heard about your experiences, and how important this is for King’s and KCLSU in continuing to develop the education and student experience you receive at King’s to the highest quality.

Adam and Steven, can you tell us about the new Student Voice Partnership Agreement and the difference it will make to how students’ voices are heard and acted upon?

Steven Suresh, KCLSU President
Steven Suresh

Steven: KCLSU deeply values the input and perspectives of our students. This Partnership Agreement is a joint initiative between KCLSU - representative of the student body - and King’s. It sets clear expectations of how we’ll work together, ensuring we act on the student voice in meaningful ways. It underpins our joint strategic goals and further reinforces the commitment to put the student voice at the heart of our work. 

Adam Fagan, Vice President (Education & Student Success)
Adam Fagan

Adam: Our Agreement is a framework for working together that we haven’t had before and lays down principles for how we co-operate and co-produce. This shared approach builds on the positive collaboration we’ve had so far, especially during the pandemic, when King’s and KCLSU worked very well together. Using this framework, we’ll be confronting fundamental challenges that have hampered us in the past, like the duplication of initiatives, and failure to communicate effectively or work together cohesively.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national scheme run by the Office for Students to encourage Higher Education providers to improve and deliver excellence in teaching, learning and student outcomes. Could you talk a bit about King’s TEF 2023 outcomes and why they’re important for students and the university?

Adam: They are important in helping us move forward the investment, changes and improvements we have planned. The TEF process acknowledges our successes while highlighting where we need to do more. Our submission was strengthened by working collaboratively with KCLSU. We’re delighted we’ve achieved gold for student outcomes because sending our students into world with excellent outcomes when they graduate is essential.

Steven: TEF outcomes are a clear indicator of what students can expect from an institution and helps them make informed choices about where to study. For universities, TEF outcomes are a benchmark for continuous improvement in teaching standards. High outcomes enhance King’s reputation, attract global talent, and affirm our commitment to deliver outstanding educational experiences. For KCLSU, these outcomes reflect the work of our community leaders, including student and academic representatives, in ensuring students’ insights reach King’s.

TEF 2023 logo, indicating overall outcome of silver, 'student experience' outcome of silver, and 'student outcome' outcome of gold.
Overall rating: Silver; Student experience rating: Silver; Student outcomes: Gold.

As well as the TEF outcomes, why are the NSS and PTES results important and what do they mean for students?

Adam: Accountability. These are all external national measures against which they can judge their university and hold us to account. The real value to students is how it incentivises their university to take their voices seriously and to make sure we act upon what our students tell us. The data we receive through surveys help us identify good practice we can learn from and highlights lower performing areas we need to target and improve. 

Steven: TEF outcomes, NSS, and PTES are vital for our current students at King’s, offering a direct channel to voice experiences and influence positive change. By participating in these surveys, students ensure their university and Student Union remain accountable not complacent at any point. Essentially it acts as a forum for students to take an active role in shaping their educational journey and enhancing King’s' community for everyone, including future students. 

The yearly NSS and PTES tell us what students think about studying at King’s. Could you tell us about areas we need to improve and what we’ve done so far?

Steven: Improving mental health support and a more compassionate mitigating circumstances policy have helped create a supportive and understanding environment. The average appointment wait time in 2022-23 was 14 days, a significant reduction from the previous year when it was over 21 days! We’ve worked with King’s to develop a more empathetic mitigating circumstances process – in the tragic event that someone close to you passes away, a death certificate doesn’t have to be submitted as evidence. 

Adam: The data shows students find their course stimulating and we have strong results in teaching quality, academic support and learning resources. Less positive are areas of assessment and feedback, organisation and management, and student voice. Improvements so far include KCLSU’s successful campaign to Scrap the Cap, removing the immediate cap at the pass mark when submitting coursework (depending on when the assessment is set), our continuing investment in wellbeing services and our Partnership Agreement with KCLSU. 

NSS results 2023

Graph showing King's summary results for the National Student Survey 2023
Results based on 4,009 responses (70% of final year undergraduates): Learning resources 85%; Teaching on my course 83%; Freedom of Expression 83%; Academic Support 81%; Learning Opportunities 78%; Clinical Placement 70%; Mental Wellbeing Services 70%; Student Union 69%; Assessment and Feedback 68%; Organisation and Management 67%; Student Voice 66%.

PTES results 2023 by theme

Graph showing King's results by theme for the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2023.
Results based on 3,672 responses (26% of postgraduate taught students): Resources and Services 89%; Teaching and Learning 84%; Overview 83%; Engagement 80%; Dissertation or Major Project 79%; Skills Development 79%; Support 77%; Organisation and Management 73%; Assessment and Feedback 71%; Community 58%; Students’ Union (KCLSU) 46%.

What change based on student feedback do you think has made the biggest impact on our students’ experience?

Adam: In addition to Scrap the Cap, our swift response to the cost-of-living crisis made a significant difference with support available for a range of circumstances. We launched the King’s Student App in 2022, which is improving how we communicate with students. We’ve listened to concerns from students about timetabling, assessment and feedback and are investing in improving these areas. 

Steven: Recognising the stressors affecting students' mental health. A 2019 UK government report found the number of students in higher education experiencing mental health problems has doubled since 2014/2015. Situations like the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis have exacerbated challenges students can face. King’s’ investment in wellbeing services and reducing counselling wait times significantly impacts their experience and engagement, and need the assurance from their university that support is available to them at the right time. 

Are there other ways you’ll be working closely together?

Adam: One of the main ways is the Student Success Transformation Programme. This is the central investment programme from which all our improvements to the student experience are being made. KCLSU are partnering with us to shape this. Another is our estates master planning work and placing the student voice at the centre of our continued enhancement of both physical and digital space. 

Steven: The cornerstone of our collaboration is the Student Voice Partnership, ensuring students’ voices are central to both King’s and KCLSU’s decisions. We’re planning regular dialogue and projects with teams across the university to keep student perspective at the front and centre of every decision that is taken. Together, we aim to shape an environment that truly aligns with student needs and lets them exercise their voice through refined representation practices. 

Will students see a difference in their experience during their time at King’s and what might that look like?

Adam: Absolutely! During their time with us, students can expect their timetables to be available more quickly and with greater accuracy, more content on our Student App, and improvements in communications between academics and students. While some projects in our Transformation Programme may take time, others should be swift, and we want to share progress with you, so you know we’re listening and acting on the feedback you’re giving us. 

Steven: Certainly. Students will notice the outcomes as we enhance their voice, representation and visibility at King’s. Our student and academic representatives ensure feedback and insights are taken through university governance and prioritised during decision making with the College Council. Our goal is for every student journey at King's to be enriched, responsive, and reflective of their feedback, so they have a high-quality experience at King’s.

How can students make their voices heard now?

Steven: As a membership-led organisation, KCLSU works with the student body and funds them to develop their own campaigns to help support their community. Any student can sign up to our monthly Students for Change: Campaigning Workshop (, which equips them with the resources and tools to make a change. Beyond campaigns, our student voice activities include work and ideas from Elections, Volunteering and widening the participation of the student community. Make Change ( 

Adam: In addition to engaging with KCLSU via Steven and his team of Sabbatical Officers, you can share feedback with your course representatives, through module evaluations or by talking with your tutors and support staff. If you are a final year undergraduate, I hope you will take the time to complete the NSS when it opens in January 2024. 70% of our students responded in 2023, but we’d like to hear from even more of you. Likewise, for our postgraduate taught students – we hope you’ll complete the PTES when it opens in Spring 2024 – as your feedback is truly the most powerful tool for change.

I'll also be holding sessions on campus to hear directly from you about your experiences and share how we’re turning your feedback into action. I hope you’ll be able to join me at one of these events during this academic year. 

Come along to one of Adam's listening sessions

  • Tuesday 28 November 10:00 - 11:30 - Guy’s Campus
  • Monday 4 December 15:00 - 16:30 - Strand Campus
  • Monday 4 March 15:00 - 16:30 - Waterloo Campus

Complete this form to select the session you plan to attend.