Meeting the student experience challenge

By Professor Amanda Coffey, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Student Experience and Academic Standards, Cardiff University

What makes for a great ‘student experience?’ How do we ensure our students make the most of their time at University, and benefit from their experience of higher education throughout their lives? What are the elements we should be focusing on to enable students to consider themselves to be part of the university community? 

Beyond the practicalities of delivering a good teaching and learning experience, universities are also tasked with supporting students to make the most of their degree studies – that includes facilities that are fit for purpose, appropriate attention paid to wellbeing and providing opportunities to widen student experiences and apply their knowledge in real world contexts. 

At Cardiff University, we work are in partnership with our students to create an inspiring journey that prepares students for the world of work, enables them to participate fully in society and enriches their lives.

That means providing the best facilities, and services, alongside excellent teaching, to deliver a consistently high quality student experience. 

We have embarked on a £260m programme to provide students with world-leading facilities as part of an overall additional capital investment of £600m over 10 years. It’s our largest campus upgrade in a generation.

Our students are already experiencing some of the benefits of this investment, through new accommodation and refurbishment of our student residences; new buildings to deliver teaching and support learning; the refurbishment and upgrade of existing learning spaces, and major developments within the Cardiff University Students’ Union facilities.

The £50m Centre for Student Life, delivered in partnership with our Students’ Union and due to open for the 2019/20 academic year, symbolises our commitment to our students. 

The Centre will provide bespoke accommodation for our wellbeing, financial, global opportunities and employability support services, as well as a wide range of study spaces for independent and group work.

There will also be social and exhibition space, and a 550-seat technology rich lecture theatre. Beyond the Centre’s extended opening hours, the Centre development will also mean we can provide improved online access to all our services, meaning we can support our students wherever they are, whenever they need us. 

Across our estate, we’ve successfully completed the latest stage of our £40m project to transform our physical learning spaces. We have an ambitious programme of work to upgrade and refurbish our lecture theatres and teaching rooms, creating light, airy, modern, flexible facilities. This includes making sure we make best use of technology to support teaching delivery and active learning.


Our commitment to innovation firmly establishes enterprise and entrepreneurship at the heart of our student offer. Through increasing enterprise education, work placements, internships and industry-focused degrees, we seek to offer every student the opportunity to undertake work-based learning during their studies. We are also committed to providing opportunities and support for study, work or volunteering overseas. 

We are also investing in a £300m innovation campus as the latest development of our Innovation System. The campus will bring students, entrepreneurs, business leaders, professional advisors, academics and corporates together in a shared and collaborative space.  

Innovation Central, at the heart of the campus, will provide flexible, bespoke space for students to incubate their start-ups and research-led spin-outs, working directly with researchers and industry. 

We want every student to have that chance to innovate. 

We’re designing infrastructure that enables them by embracing emergent techniques and technologies, and ensuring excellence in teaching and student support is consistently recognised and rewarded.

Our students have increasingly high expectations and quite rightly demand the very best. In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, it is essential we meet the challenge. 

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