Nottingham Business School
“We're making big feel smaller here”: Your voice is building the Nottingham Business School community.
Dean Baback Yazdani and Deputy Dean Melanie Currie explain how the voice of Nottingham Business School students has helped the School to craft its own sense of identity and community.
Melanie: The feedback culture’s very strong here. We have a fantastic group of course and module leaders who are totally committed to supporting our students – and the students themselves are really engaged.
The Business School is one entity, and we work hard to build that overall sense of community, but each of the subject areas also has its own little sub-culture too. So it’s about balance – listening to our different student groups, and learning what works for them. What economists want can obviously be very different to what marketing students want, and we strive to create opportunities that are purposeful and positive. That’s where their ideas and feedback really help.
Baback: We’re very strong on experiential learning. It’s what makes us so distinct as a School. That, and the sense of an ongoing dialogue, which you’ll only get when people feel they’re cared for and that they belong. Colleagues have joined us from many other universities and schools, and they’re all struck by how student-centred we are at NBS. It’s about building that powerful sense of community and harmony – not just in this faculty, but across the University.
Melanie: We’re making big feel smaller here, and you can see that in our NSS results. Our students want to be part of a community. The Business School hoodies were a small step in developing that idea – we were the first School to do that at NTU, and you see them everywhere now. And it’s not just students – it’s our staff, too. There’s a sense of pride. It’s a collective “We Are NBS” identity.
Baback: Personalisation is so important to the quality of our students’ learning experience, and that’s why we work so hard to stay flexible. This year, for example, we’ve approved over 150 requests for changes to people’s timetables. I’m proud of our support culture; when students ask, we answer. And if changes in their personal circumstances means changing their study schedule, we make sure we’re as responsive to that as possible.
That’s why personalisation is such a key part of that “making big feel smaller” philosophy – it’s our commitment to helping each individual person. It’s a combination of support, infrastructure, the ambience of the School – plus a lot of sincere, responsive care. You can have a beautiful building, but it’s nothing without that care.
Melanie: There’s a lot of intangibles tied up in the idea of “a home” – but put the right people at the core of it, listen to feedback, and you’ve made a great start. Just look at how we’ve developed our trading room – the NBS Business Lab – to give our students access to the types of software, tools and techniques they’ll be using professionally. It’s used so widely now, and not just by the students – economists, accountants – you’d expect. We’re responding to the needs of other disciplines like marketing, HR and management, making it available to the Investment Society, and really embedding it in the curriculum – all based on demand.
Baback: And it’s important to remember that it is live. It’s the same data the stock markets are getting – there’s a five second delay, but it’s still quicker than what the Financial Times sees! We’ve invested in more Bloomberg terminals to meet demand, plus a whole series of other software and data sets that the students can access, for teaching and research purposes. It’s a great thing for their CVs and LinkedIn profiles – very few business schools have live trading rooms, and it gives our students a real advantage.
Melanie: NBS Discover is another good example of how we’ve incorporated new ideas – in this case, by changing our introductory sessions for new first years from Induction 101 to something that really builds that sense of familiarity and community, and has an applied academic value down the line. We split the city into zones, and they tackle a project as teams – this year, it was fast fashion. The work gets drawn into the curriculum to analyse what the economic, accounting, HR imperatives of these things; essentially, looking through the context of their own subjects.
Baback: Like everything we do, it’s about experiential learning – adding value to their journey, even at the induction stage.