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QUEEN’S GRADUATE SCHOOL WINS UK STUDENT EXPERIENCE AWARDKara Bailie, Graduate School Manager, with Best Postgraduate Student Experience Initiative Award

25 August 2020

The Graduate School at Queen’s has won the award for Best Postgraduate Student Experience Initiative in this year’s UK-wide Find a University’s Postgrad Awards.

The award recognised the School’s agile response to the Covid-19 crisis which saw it quickly introduce a new virtual programme of well-being, training and development event for postgraduate students.

Professor Margaret Topping, Dean of the Graduate School, said:

“The Graduate School is a core part of the postgraduate student experience at Queen’s; it’s a community where students from all cultures and all disciplines come together to connect and socialise, to develop their personal, professional and academic skills, and to be supported by one another and by our team. 

“With the challenges of Covid-19, our students needed this community more than ever, so while the pandemic meant that we had to close the physical doors of our beautiful building for a while, the community remained virtually connected and has continued to thrive,” continued Professor Topping.

“We were determined not to allow the virus to stifle our commitment to offering dynamic training, support and social events, so thanks to a fantastic team who are absolutely dedicated to the wellbeing of our students, all of our provision was moved online in record time.”

The Graduate School Manager, Kara Bailie (pictured above) added:

“We were very pleased to receive this award. It not only reflects the enormous efforts of the 26-strong staff team but also the exceptional spirit of our postgraduate students. They willingly adapted to and embraced the changes.

“Our priority is always the wellbeing of the postgraduates and then offering them the chance to add an extra dimension to their university experience.”

Nominated by Students’ Union Postgraduate Officer and former First Trust Bank Student of the Year Gift Sotonye-Frank, Queen’s Graduate School saw off stiff competition from Coventry University, The British Psychological Society, and the Universities of Sheffield and Leicester.

The award recognises the School’s commitment to ensuring an outstanding experience for postgraduates, and the collaborative agility of staff and students to find ways to remain connected during a global pandemic.

In making the Award, the judging panel acknowledged how the Graduate School had adapted teaching and training styles to help deliver interactive, experiential learning remotely as a result of the pandemic. They also developed student-facing services into virtual interactions to ensure students could still get the support they needed.

A spokesperson for the judging panel said:

“The judges were impressed with the way The Graduate School at Queen’s worked quickly and effectively to move its events programme online in response to the Covid19 crisis, whilst successfully ensuring that the quality of student experience was maintained in these extraordinary circumstances.

“They were therefore a worthy winner of this award.”

The Graduate School – located in the former University library dating back to 1868 – welcomes thousands of students each year. It supports the development of postgraduate students and encourages them to become leaders, thinkers, communicators and innovators who are future ready. The School is a dynamic intellectual hub which creates a community based on challenge between disciplines.

The Graduate School building was designed by Irish born architect William Henry Lynn (1829-1915) in a neo-gothic style. It owes much to the influence of John Ruskin (1819-1900) and is arguably the best example of Ruskinian Victorian gothic architecture and is a building of importance and profile on the main site.

Media enquiries should be addressed to the Communications Office at Queen’s University Belfast. 

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