After a year at this university, I have come to perceive that very few people around me show any excitement about the LSE. Despite its incredible offer of academic prowess, impactful and innovative research and a campus in the centre of London, our collective lived experience at LSE translates to low satisfaction and a general disengaged mood.
Whilst there is a risk that this is just a relatively normal attitude towards institutions, it saddens me to see that studying at the LSE could be so much better than it currently is. The students I talk to frequently mention feeling like clients, and there’s a creeping sense throughout my conversations that LSE’s corporatism and careerism has turned the school into a dull place.
After covering several LSE Director forums for the Beaver, I have come to see our new LSE Director, Dame Minouche Shafik, as one of the few people here that can make me feel that the school can change, that it can be better. The upcoming 2030 strategy excites me, as it should excite all students currently feeling disappointed about what the school has to offer.
Whilst it is unclear how these planned changes will affect my personal experience as a student, I take hearing that there are plans to modernise the educational experience, to invest more heavily on research, to improve the student experience by ensuring minimum standards across departments, as good omens.
There are already signs that the school is aiming for change; many departments have been attempting to diversify assessment practices. This allows LSE to work for everyone, not just those comfortable with final exams.
At the latest forum, there was mention of the need to stop thinking of students as customers and start treating us as the leaders of tomorrow. Whilst I am reticent to accept the vacuous “leaders of tomorrow” platitude, I am happy to see that school authorities seem to understand where the problem lies, and how we feel as students.
Upcoming changes within the strategic framework aim to provide students with more study abroad opportunities, increase available scholarships, modernise the way students are assessed and taught, and tackle the lack of engagement between students and academics. The strategy will launch in 2019 and the implementation of these aims will become clearer, along with what else is on the menu. Current students will also learn which of these changes will affect their experience, and those grovelling because their best option is to do postgraduate study at the university, may cheer up.
My point: these are good signs. For those of us who care about the university beyond our degree, who care about the university as a community, this is an excellent opportunity to be a part of these changes. The director’s seemingly open disposition to implement change is something we should capitalise on.
The student community should take this opportunity to speak up as loudly as possible about the changes we demand. The strategy’s formulation is in its early days, and its ambitious rhetoric contrasts heavily with a lack of practical shape.
The school authorities have shown that they are open to hear us out, and our concerns may yet materialise into change, only time will tell. If we are to be proud of our university as a home, rather than a soulless institution, we should try to engage with these efforts to redesign our experience, engaging with the proposed changes, voicing our concerns and recommendations.
This is a challenge that The Beaver will gladly undertake. Our editorial board is committed to provide a platform for the student voice, and as such we will aim to increase our efforts to communicate upcoming changes and debates about them.