Rise at Manchester Met is a new approach that gives every student a bespoke element to their degree, allowing students to get more out of your university experience by taking advantage of the opportunities available.
Rise is an ambitious institutional offer, taking students beyond their subjects to enhance experience and outcomes. It embeds a commitment to bend the university around the student’s needs and interests – and to a principle that ‘extra-curricular’ activity should be brought within credit infrastructures.
The project is innovative in its embrace of cross-disciplinary, project-based and externally engaged learning; a wide range of placements, international mobilities, live-briefs and intensives characterised by their interdisciplinarity and collaborative project work. These activities enhance career readiness, improving student knowledge of employment pathways and talent pipelines.
It seeks to improve uneven starting points, and the ways in which different student groups are less favourably positioned to access those pipelines. The project has created opportunities to gain experiences and social connections. It has also supported the development of additional skills which connect significant regional employment sectors to disciplines which are not always directly aligned (for instance, around creative digital).
The project supports employability, including developing confidence in working in unfamiliar ways, problem solving and collaboration. It has created safe and controlled ways to offer students a less pre-structured experience, and to exercise their own creativity and autonomy. The impacts of this in enabling students to access the fuller richness and benefit of a university experience have been most pronounced amongst those students from non-traditional backgrounds. It has also delivered a range of additional impacts, notably the integration of ‘less engaged’ students. This group, which was the second largest of our cohort, has told us how useful this project has been in reconnecting them to the university. We are also beginning to note broader impacts on their ability to use social networks and collaborate effectively.
It has also enabled the university to develop a better responsiveness to the needs of key sectors in the city region – and to enable students to deliver social good in the communities in which they are embedded.
The project’s interventions have been coupled with approaches to reach students who might be more strongly associated with underachievement and underemployment in institutional data. Improved use of that data has helped to better prioritise students, through analysis of the relative interactions of demographic, course/sector and behavioural data (e.g. engagement on campus). MMU’s offer has been made available to all students, but marketing has been targeted to reach those priority students.
MMU’s pilot year saw significant ‘overrepresentation’ of BAME, first generation, disabled and commuting students compared to the broader population.
Amongst incentives to engage, the most progressive is the opportunity to earn additional classificatory credit through assessments which focus on communicating value. This has had a profound impact, both in doubling their original engagement targets, and in the extent to which those students have taken risks to step beyond their comfort zones. Rise’s successful pilot year has allowed for an ambitious scaling, to a target of 3000 students from 2020/21.
For more information on Rise, visit here.