Professor Janice Kay with Imogen Sanders. Photo by Jim Wileman.

A day in the life: student and Deputy Vice-Chancellor change places

University of Exeter Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Janice Kay has had a taste of student life, while third-year English student Imogen Sanders has experienced what it is like to run the university.

Janice and Imogen took part in a new shadowing scheme, which is helping ensure the University puts students at the heart of its strategic decision-making.

Over two days, Imogen attended meetings with Janice where she contributed to discussions on key issues such as the University’s education strategy and graduate employability. Janice attended an English workshop, where she debated themes for dissertation topics, and chatted to Imogen’s friends and fellow students over coffee about their courses and student life.

Speaking of what she gained from the experience, student Imogen Sanders said: “I realised that there is coherence between what the senior management are working towards and what the students want. It really broke that barrier between everyday student life and the University as a business and part of the community. It’s very easy to get caught up in what you’re doing as a student, but this gave me perspective of the bigger picture and what I’m part of.”

Janice Kay said: “Shadowing Imogen was a great experience and a privilege – I learned so much. There is a lot we can achieve through working together and there is nothing to beat actually going and talking with students. We’re here fundamentally for students so this shadowing scheme is invaluable.”

As staff-student liaison committee (SSLC) representative, Imogen Sanders has already been involved in working with the University to ensure students’ views are heard. When she finishes her degree this summer, she hopes to pursue an academic career.

Janice Kay is a Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychology. As Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Education, she has overall responsibility for the University’s education strategy and its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. She is also leading the University’s science strategy, which involves a £230 million investment in science, medicine and engineering.

The Student-Staff Shadowing Scheme aims to build on the Students as Change Agents initiative that has brought students and staff together as partners in improving experiences of higher education at Exeter. Over the past six months thirteen University managers have been involved, including Michele Shoebridge (Director of Academic Services), James Hutchinson (Chief Executive, Guild of Students) and Tash Khan-Davis (Head of Staff Learning and Development).

Through the scheme, senior managers and students have had the opportunity to experience a day in each others’ lives. By gaining a direct insight into a leadership role, students are better informed about the skills, competencies and attitudes required as well as developing a better understanding of the running of a large organisation – their University.  The University hopes that in turn senior managers gain valuable and current insights into matters related to a student's daily experience which will enable better-informed decision-making, organisation and improved resources.


Date: 2 February 2012