Despite the exciting move of UCL to Stratford, it is not the first expansion of the campus, with UCL School of Management making their move last year to Canary Wharf. Therefore, we felt they were uniquely placed to offer us some insight into the challenges and exciting opportunities with having a split campus.
On Tuesday 31st we met with Jackie Loveland, the School Manager, and Zaiba Badrudin, the student experience co-ordinator to pick their brains on the last year. As we exited Canary Wharf station to approach the Central Tower where the school was based, what struck me was how unlike a university campus the area felt… is this the new, dynamic future of education in London?
It turns out this concern, or perhaps observation was noted by the SoM students prior to their move East, however these initial worries have apparently paled away once the students have come to realise the unique opportunities that being among businesses can offer them. Just above on Level 39 is Europe’s largest technology accelerator which they have been able to collaborate with as part of their Entrepreneurs course. Such connections are invaluable, and as part of this project we are hoping to establish workshops with fellow tenants in the UCL Here East site to understand how we can build similar relationships across the education, cultural and technology establishments.
As part of our visit we toured around the site; designed by Levitt Bernstein architects it is a case study of modernity, collaborative learning, and breath-taking views (although I’d avoid visiting on a winter’s foggy day if you can). Now it has come into use though, students have pointed out that the quiet study spaces are limited. Alternatives have been offered such as local library membership, but remaining close to one site is a priority for students. With the inside spaces still not designed for UCL East this is definitely a recommendation we could give the management team. To take this further, we’re hoping to take a tour with the Library service at Bloomsbury to learn about the existing services, and survey you to find out what is in demand and where we can improve the experience for the new campus.
Being separated from the main campus and its services, one of the areas we were surprised to learn that has not been developed is the community links; it relied on a student approaching the staff to request that this be looked into or established. UCL Bloomsbury does not stand alone but exists within the wider community of Camden, London, and the UK; with over 36,000 hours volunteered per year it forms a vital part of students’ UCL experience.
If you have had a volunteering experience that you want to tell us about or see established at the UCL East campus reach out to us now!
By Esme Stallard.